Yes, J-2 dependents (spouses and unmarried children under the age of 21) of J-1 visa holders are typically eligible to work in the United States, but they must obtain an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) before they can legally work. Here are some key points to keep in mind:
EAD Application: To work in the U.S. as a J-2 dependent, individuals must apply for an EAD through USCIS. The EAD allows them to work legally and is typically issued for a specific period.
No Need for Employer Sponsorship: Unlike the J-1 primary visa holder, J-2 dependents do not need specific job offers or employer sponsorship to apply for an EAD. They can seek employment once they receive their EAD.
Work Anywhere: With an EAD, J-2 dependents can work for any employer in the United States, including part-time or full-time positions.
EAD Validity: The EAD’s validity period is determined by the USCIS and is typically tied to the J-1 visa holder’s program end date. However, in some cases, it may be limited to the J-2’s status expiration date or for a shorter duration.
EAD Application Process: J-2 dependents should file Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, with the USCIS, along with the required supporting documents and fees.
Employment Limitations: J-2 dependents are not subject to the same employment restrictions as J-1 visa holders, and they are not bound by the “two-year home country physical presence requirement” that can apply to some J-1 participants.
It’s important to note that while J-2 dependents are eligible to work, the income they generate can be an essential source of financial support for the family. However, it’s advisable to consult with an immigration attorney or your program sponsor for guidance on the specific application process and any updates to regulations, as immigration rules can change over time.