Who is eligible?
If you are working and/or studying at UT with J-1 status, your spouse and unmarried children (under age 21) are eligible to apply for J-2 visas. As long as you maintain your J-1 status, your dependents may remain in the United States
What happens next?
During your appointment, an advisor will issue you a new DS-2019 for you and your dependents. Your dependents will then present the DS-2019 when they apply for a J-1 visa in your home country. They should also present copies of your immigration documents (DS-2019, passport, visa, and proof of enrollment) during the visa appointment. In addition to a valid passport and visa, your dependents will need to show their dependent DS-2019 upon entry to the United States. If you are requesting a change of status to J-2 within the United States, speak to an advisor about the change of status procedure.
J-2 dependents are eligible for the following benefits of their status:
If you have a child (under the age of 21) who you wish to bring to the United States in J-2 status, they are eligible to enroll in elementary or secondary school. You can find information on Austin Independent School District here. Look under “Schools” and click on “Find Your Assigned Schools” to see where your child should be attending. Children generally attend school if they are the age 18 or under.
Your spouse is eligible to go to school (college/university) part-time or full-time in J-2 status. They are also eligible to apply for work authorization through USCIS. You must be in the U.S. and your primary must have attended IBC (student) or Orientation (scholar) to apply. You are allowed to work at multiple jobs with no limit on the type of job. If your spouse has work authorization, Workforce Solutions is a good resource, free to the public, which will help in your job search.
Approval length is up to the discretion of the USCIS officer, but is generally a year or the current end date of your primary’s J-1 program. This application can take around 3 months to process, though longer wait times can happen. Follow the steps above in order to apply. After you have gathered the documentation and filled out the forms, make an appointment with an International Advisor, who will review the application and submit it to USCIS.
Apply for a work authorization
J-2 Dependents are eligible to work full or part-time during their stay in the United States.
- Your spouse and/or children may work full or part-time, but they must apply for and receive an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) from U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services before beginning employment.
- Your spouse and/or children may enroll in school and study at the university level.
How to apply?
Make an appointment:
- Go here if your J-1 primary is an international student (DS-2019 category: Student Non-degree, Student Bachelors, Student Masters, Student Doctorate)
- Go here if your J-1 primary is an international scholar (DS-2019 category: Research Scholar, Short-term Scholar, Professor, Specialist, Student Intern)
Bring the following to International Student & Scholar Services:
- Typed and completed Form I-765, signed in black ink;
- Copies of both the J-1's and J-2's Form DS-2019;
- Copies of both the J-1's and J-2's Form I-94;
- Copies of both the J-1's and J-2's visa and passport (identification and expiration date pages);
- Copy of marriage certificate (if J-2 is the spouse of J-1), or a copy of the birth certificate (if J-2 is the child of J-1). The certificate should be accompanied by an official English translation if it is not in English;
- Two recent, passport-style photos on white background. The photos must be 2 x 2 inches; the images must be 1 inch from the hair to the chin and 1.25 inch from eye height to the bottom of the photo. Your name and I-94 number must be printed in pencil on the back of the photos. See an example photo.
- Check or money order for $410 made payable to: Department of Homeland Security (do not write or make corrections in the upper portion of the check);
- J-2 Expenses Letter;
- Copies of any previous EAD's (Employment Authorization Document).
The International Office will review and compile your application. You will then submit the application to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). This application can take around 3 months to process, though longer wait times can happen. You may begin working only after receiving the EAD and are permitted to work only within the specific timeframe that is printed on the EAD. Approval length is up to the discretion of the USCIS officer, but is generally a year or the current end date of your primary’s J-1 program. You are allowed to work at multiple jobs with no limit on the type of job.
You must be in the U.S. and your primary must have attended either International Briefing & Check-In (IBC) if the J-1 is a student or J-1 Scholar Orientation if the J-1 is a scholar to apply.
If your spouse has work authorization, Workforce Solutions is a good resource, free to the public, which will help in your job search.
Renewing your work authorization
If you currently have J-2 work authorization and need to apply for a renewal, you may apply up to 180 days before the expiration of your current EAD. If you plan to remain with the same employer and do not want a break of employment, it is important to apply early.
Be aware that J-2 employees are not eligible for tax treaty benefits and will pay Social Security and Medicare taxes. J-2 dependents are also required to file taxes every year. See our tax page for more information on taxes.
All persons in J-2 status must maintain the same health insurance benefits as their J-1 primary*, per Department of State guidelines. Failure to comply could result in a termination of your visa status.
* It does not have to be the same insurance policy.
J-2 dependents lose J-2 status if the J-1 student/scholar completes or otherwise ends her/his status.
J-2 dependents are required to file taxes if they earned income in the U.S., and are eligible to use the GLACIER Tax Prep (GTP) to prepare their U.S. tax return. In order to access GLACIER Tax Prep, J-2 dependents would use the same access code obtained by their J-1 primaries and follow the instructions to create a GTP account. Once inside GTP, J-2 dependents would follow the instructions to have their U.S. tax return prepared for them to print out, sign, and submit to the IRS.
If the J-1 primary is subject to the two-year home residency requirement, all J-2 dependents are similarly subject.
Keep in mind, if your child turns 21 while you are here, they will lose their J-2 status and need to change to another legal immigration status. Please go to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website for questions about changing status.* You may also make an appointment to discuss change of status options with an ISSS advisor.
* Due to current USCIS backlogs, Change of Status applications are taking around 10 months.
J-2 dependents may travel outside of and re-enter the United States with or separately from the J-1 student/scholar. In all cases, J-2 dependents should carry the following documents in order to request J-2 status upon arriving in the United States:
- An unexpired passport valid at least six months into the future upon arrival;
- A Form DS-2019 issued in the J-2 dependent's name, with a travel signature from ISSS or the J-1 sponsor that is no more than 1 year old on the date of re-entry;
- A copy of the J-1's signed Form DS-2019 (necessary only if traveling separately from the J-1);
- An unexpired J-2 entry visa (exception: Canadian citizens are not required to obtain visas)