This checklist is provided as a courtesy to the spouses of J-1 scholars at MIT. It does not constitute legal advice.
Permission to work will not be authorized by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) if the employment is for the support of the J-1 exchange visitor. The money earned by a J-2 spouse may be for J-2 travel, recreational, or cultural activities. If the income is needed to support the exchange visitor, USCIS will not authorize employment.
Please note that USCIS processing times can be inconsistent and subject to change. The current estimated processing time for J-2 work authorization applications is 1-5 months. J-2 work authorization is generally granted for one year, or for the period of time you are authorized to stay in the United States, as indicated on the Form DS-2019 (if less than one year). However, if the Form DS-2019 is valid for more than one year, USCIS may, at its discretion, issue an employment authorization document (EAD) that is valid for a longer period of time. Requests for a longer validity period should be made in writing at the time of application. Enclose a cover letter requesting work authorization until the ending date on the Form DS-2019.
If you are preparing to submit a J-2 work permission application (Form I-765 and accompanying documents) to USCIS, please thoroughly review the checklist below. USCIS' instructions can be found at https://www.uscis.gov/i-765.
To Apply for J-2 Work Permission
- $410 application fee.* You may pay the fee with a money order, personal check or cashier’s check payable to Department of Homeland Security. Or, you may pay by credit card using Form G-1450, Authorization for Credit Card Transactions. *Refer to the USCIS website to confirm fee information.
- Form I-765 (Application for Employment Authorization): The J-2 applicant should complete this form. We recommend typing the application using the fillable form to avoid errors on your EAD. In item 25, write "J-2 Dependent." In item 27, write "c" inside the first set of parentheses and "5" inside the second set. Leave the third set blank. In any and all boxes on the application that do not apply to you, write “none” or “N/A” (not applicable).
- Form G-1145 (optional). Use this form to request an e-notification from USCIS when your application is received. Paperclip the form to the front of your application.
- Two passport-style photographs that meet USCIS requirements: Print your name on the back of each photo. Do not cut photos to size; USCIS will cut them to their specifications.
- J-2 statement: On a separate piece of paper, the J-2 applicant should state that the work permission is not necessary to support the J-1 visa holder but is for other purposes (e.g. cultural, recreational, and travel expenses for the J-2 dependent).
- J-2 immigration documents: Photocopies of the J-2's current and any previous Forms DS-2019; J-2 entry visa stamp, and passport identity page(s). [If you are applying for an extension of your current EAD, include a copy of your current EAD (front and back) along with the paper slip it was attached to when you received it in the mail].
- J-2 admission record: Printout of most recent I-94 admission record and photocopy of most recent admission stamp in the passport, if applicable.
- J-1 immigration documents and admission record: Photocopies of the J-1's Form DS-2019; most recent I-94 admission record and admission stamp in the passport; if applicable; J-1 entry visa stamp; and passport identity page(s).
MAKE COPIES OF EVERYTHING FOR YOUR OWN RECORDS BEFORE YOU SEND THE APPLICATION. We suggest you mail this application at the post office by "certified mail/return receipt requested" or express mail.
For U.S. Postal Service Deliveries:
P.O. Box 4115
Carol Stream, IL 60197-4115
For Express Mail Deliveries:
Attn: NFB (Box 4115)
2500 Westfield Drive
Elgin, IL 60124-7836
PLEASE NOTE: If you do NOT live in Massachusetts, you may be required to mail your application to a different address. Click here for more information.
If you and the J-1 exchange visitor will remain in the United States after the end date of your current EAD, you must obtain an extension of employment authorization in order to continue working.The application procedure is the same as for your original permission. Send a copy of your current EAD [include the paper slip that your current EAD was attached to when you received it in the mail] along with the other required documents as outlined on the checklist. Another EAD will be issued with new dates. The J-1's extension of stay must be granted before Form I-765 for extension of work permission for the J-2 is submitted to USCIS. It is important to complete both the extension of stay and the extension of employment authorization procedures before the expiration date of the J-1's current Form DS-2019.
Effective Date and Status
Your work permission will not be in effect until USCIS approves it. Once approved, USCIS will send you an Employment Authorization Document (EAD). Make copies of both sides of the EAD when you receive it, and keep the paper slip it is attached to, as you will need it for any extension applications.
You may check the status of your application online, once you receive a receipt notice from USCIS. If you have a problem with your application, call the National Customer Service Center at 1-800-375-5283 or 1-800-767-1833 (TTY).
Social Security Number and Taxes
If you request a Social Security number (SSN) in item 14, you should receive it a few weeks after you receive the EAD.
If you did not request a SSN on Form I-765, after receiving your EAD, you will need to apply for a Social Security number. You will need to present your passport; most recent I-94 admission record; Form DS-2019; and EAD to show work authorization.
Earnings of J-2 visa holders are subject to U.S. Social Security taxes, as well as federal and state income taxes. See IRS Publication 519, "United States Tax Guide for Aliens," available from the IRS website.
Finding a job
MIT Spouses & Partners Connect's Career Connect provides information on looking for work and professional development.
Page updated July 2023