J2 Visa

Frequently Asked Questions & Answers

1. What is J-2 visa?

The J2 visa is a nonimmigrant visa which allows the dependants (spouses and unmarried children under 21) of J-1 visa holders to enter into the U.S.

2. What privileges do I enjoy on J2 visa?

On J-2 visa, you may:

  1. Enter the U.S. along with your J-1 spouse or parent
  2. Travel in and out of the U.S. or remain in the U.S. continuously as long as you are in status
  3. Study in the U.S.
  4. Work in the U.S with proper authorization from USCIS.
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3. What are the limitations of J-2 visa?

On J-2 visa, you are:

  1. Dependent on the status of the principal J-1 visa holder
  2. Able to apply for a work permit only after your arrival in the U.S.

4. How long can I stay in the U.S. on J-2 visa?

You may in the U.S. as long as the principal J-1 visa holder has valid status. You lose your status once the principal J-1 visa holder loses status.

5. Can I work on J-2 visa?

Yes, you may work in the U.S. on J-2 visa, if you receive permission from the USCIS and the money is not needed to support the principal J-1 holder.

Note: An application for permission to work can only be made after the J-2 visa holder’s arrival in the U.S. and will be considered in light of policies then in effect.

6. How do I obtain Employment Authorization on J-2 visa?

While on J-2 visa, you may apply to the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services (BCIS) for J2 visa Employment Authorization. When granted, this permission is valid for on and off-campus work and may be full or part-time. This permission is obtained by mailing certain documents to the BCIS. It may take 90 days or more for the application to be approved. When approval is granted, you will receive an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) card. You must have the EAD card before you begin work.

7. What are the requirements for work permission on J-2 visa?

To apply for work authorization on J-2 visa, you:

  1. Must hold valid J-2 status, and the Exchange Visitor must hold valid J-1 status, as shown on your Form I-94 Departure Record cards
  2. May not use your income to support your J-1 spouse or parent
  3. May begin working only after you receive your Employment Authorization document from the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services (BCIS). The EAD is an identification card laminated in plastic, with your photograph, signature, and the expiration date of your permission to work
  4. May work part-time or full-time, at any job, for any employer. There is no limit to the amount you may earn

Note: The BCIS can authorize J-2 employment for as long as the J-1 Exchange Visitor has permission to stay or for four years (one at a time), whichever is shorter. Permission to stay expires on the date shown on Form DS-2019 Request Form for Exchange Visitor.

8. Can I study on J-2 visa?

Yes, you may study on J-2 visa. There is no requirement that the spouse and/or children of a J-1 visa holder apply for a student visa if they wish to study in the U.S.

9. How do I apply for J-2 visa?

  1. The application procedure is the same as the J-1. Each family member will receive a Form DS-2019, Certificate of Eligibility, issued in their name, This DS-2019 is provided to the consular officer at the interview.
  2. If the spouse and/or children apply for visas at a later date, Form DS-2019, Certificate of Eligibility, must be obtained from the sponsor and furnished together with a copy of principal applicant’s J-1 visa.

10. Where do I file my J2 visa application?

You may submit your J-2 visa application to:

  1. A USCIS Service Center in the U.S. if you are in lawful status in the U.S.
  2. An American Consulate near your place of residence in your home country if you are outside the U.S.

11. What are the documents required to apply for J-2 visa?

The documents required for J-2 visa are:

  1. If outside the U.S. Form DS-160, Nonimmigrant Visa Application.
  2. If inside the U.S. Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant status.
  3. Check or money order made payable to the USCIS for the filing fee, or receipt from bank for fees paid for consulate.
  4. Photocopy of USCIS Form I-94 (front and back) of applicant, (dependent) if in the U.S.
  5. Photocopy of current Form DS-2019 Certificate of Eligibility
  6. Cover letter
  7. Photocopy of complete in passport (clear copy of passport and/or visa photo required)
  8. Passport style photo with a white background taken no earlier than 30 days before submission to the USCIS

12. What are the specifications for the photograph to be submitted along with my J2 visa application?

The photographs to be submitted with the J2 visa application should be:

  1. Unmounted, printed on thin paper, glossy and unretouched
  2. Showing full face, with no glasses. Your head should be bare unless you are wearing a headdress as required by a religious order to which you belong
  3. Not larger than 1 1/2 x 1 1/2 inches, with the distance from the top of the head to just below the chin about 1 1/4 inches
  4. Having your name lightly printed on the back of each photograph with a pencil

13. What should I communicate through the cover letter for J-2 visa work authorization?

The cover letter addressed USCIS should be brief and clearly state that the money earned by you will be used to support yourself and not be used to support the J-1 student or scholar.

14. What is the processing time for J-2 visa?

While processing time will vary according to case load, The J-2 visa is generally issued within 30 days from the day the application is made.

15. What are the additional processing requirements for J-2 visa applicant?

A J-2 visa applicant who is not submitting the new DS-160 is required to complete:

  1. Form DS-158, Contact Information and Work History for Nonimmigrant Visa Applicant. The form must be completed by all applicants, even babies and children. If a section on the USCIS Form DS-158 does not apply to you, you may enter N/A
  2. Form DS-156, Nonimmigrant Visa Application, and USCIS Form DS-157, Supplemental Nonimmigrant Visa Application

Note: Applications received without a completed USCIS Form DS-158 will be returned to the applicant which will considerably delay the visa processing.

16. Can I extend my stay on J-2 visa?

Yes, you may extend your stay on J-2 visa, however, your extension of stay depends on the principal J-1 visa extension.

Note: Your status depends on the status of principal J-1 visa status. You lose your status once the J-1 loses status.

17. Can I change status while on J-2 visa?

Yes, you may apply for J2 visa change of status, but only if you are not subject to the home residency requirement. If you are changing job, or taking up a job which requires separate status, have your employer file Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker, at the USCIS Regional Service Center with jurisdiction over your case.

18. Are there any travel restrictions on J-2 visa?

The USCIS does not put any limitations on your travel outside the U.S. You can travel outside the U.S. and re-enter as many times while you are on valid J-2 status.

19. Can I apply for a Green Card while on J-2 visa?

Yes, you may apply for an immigrant status in the U.S. if you qualify for any of the following options and if you are not subject to the 2 year home residency requirment:

  1. Family Based Immigration: If you have close relatives who are U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents, the relatives may file an immigration petition for you as the beneficiary
  2. Employment Based Immigration(Labor Certification): You may find an employer who is willing to file a Labor Cert ificate for you with the DOL
  3. EB-1: You may also file an immigration petition based on the classification of ‘Alien of Extraordinary Ability’ – EB-1(A) or ‘Outstanding Professor/Researcher’ – EB-1(B).
  4. National Interest Waiver: You may also file an immigration petition through a National Interest Waiver (NIW). National Interest Waivers are available to foreign nationals who are seeking work in a profession and who have an advanced degree (or equivalent experience) or can prove themselves as ‘aliens of exceptional ability’.

Note: If you are subject to the home residency requirement you must get a waiver before applying for immigrant status.

20. Are there any restrictions on the education of J-2 children?

A J-2 child who attends school in the U.S. while in derivative status must either depart the U.S. at the conclusion of the principal J-1 applicant’s legal stay, or change status while in the U.S. to F-1.

21. I am visiting the U.S. on a J-2 visa. Why are FICA Retirement and FICA Med being deducted from my paycheck?

  1. Nonresident foreign national
  2. Present in the U.S. under an F, J, M, or Q visa
  3. Performing services in accordance with the primary purpose of the visa’s issuance. The spouse and children dependents of the primary visa holder (normally holding an F-2, J-2, M-2, or Q-2 visa) are not eligible for the section 3121(b)(19) exemption because the purpose for their visit to the U.S. is to accompany the primary visa holder, not to work

22. Is insurance requirement mandatory for J-1 and J-2 visa holders?

Pursuant to the U.S. Department of State regulations and the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations governing Exchange Visitor Programs (22 CFR 514.14), all J-1 and accompanying J-2 family members are required to obtain health, accident, medical evacuation and repatriation of remains insurance coverage while in the U.S. The insurance policies must cover the exchange visitor and all accompanying dependents.

23. Am I subject to the two-year home residency requirement on J-2 visa?

Yes, you are subject to the two-year home residency requirement (HRR) on J-2 visa, if the principal J-1 visa holder is subject to the HRR.

24. Can I apply for a waiver of the two-year home residency requirement independently from the J-1 visa holder?

In cases of death or divorce from the J-1, or when a J-2 child reaches the age of 21, the Waiver Review Division may entertain requests for waivers on behalf of the J-2. The Division will need:

  1. Completed data sheet, Form DS-2019 of the J-1, divorce decree or death certificate, whichever is applicable
  2. Copy of birth certificate in the case of a J-2 child

25. If the J-1 obtains a recommendation for waiver of the two-year home residency requirement, will that apply to the J-2 derivative applicants?

Yes, if the J-1 applies for and receives a favorable recommendation, members of the immediate family, if applicable, will be included.

26. Do I have a grace period to legally stay in the U.S. even after my J status expires?

The J status grace period is for 30 days. During this grace period you may legally stay in the U.S. after the expiry of your J status.

27. My J status has expired and I'm in the middle of my 30-day grace period of staying in the U.S. Is it possible for me to apply for a change of status to another nonimmigrant status?

Yes, you may apply for change of status to another nonimmigrant status. However, contact us regarding the current USCIS policy.

28. How long should I wait before applying for work permission on J-2 visa?

It is advisable to wait at least two to three months after arriving into the U.S. to apply for permission to work. This is because you have recently certified to a U.S. consul that the principal J-1 applicant has sufficient funds to support all family members. It is not usually expected that there will be a sudden change in financial resources immediately after arrival.

29. Is my income on J-2 status subject to any taxes?

Income earned by J-2 dependents is subject to Federal, State, local, and Social Security taxes.

30. For further inquiries about J visa program whom do I contact?

Further questions about:

  1. J visa program, Form DS-2019, and the ability to change programs or extend within a program should be made to the Department of State, Education and Cultural Affairs Bureau, Exchange Visitor and Program Designation Staff, Washington D.C.
  2. Qualifications for various classifications and conditions and limitations on employment should be made by the prospective employer or agent in the U.S. to the nearest USCIS office
  3. Visa application procedures at the American Consulate abroad should be made to that consular office by the applicant

31. Is the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) applicable for J-2 visa?

Yes, the SEVIS is applicable to J-2 visa holders. This system monitors the status of persons who enter the U.S. with an F, M or J visa. In order for students/exchange visitors and their dependents to qualify for an F, M or J visa, the school or exchange program in the U.S. must issue a Certificate of Student Status (I-20) or Certificate of Exchange Visitor Status (DS-2019) on a SEVIS-generated form and must register each person on the SEVIS website. Each applicant must submit a SEVIS-generated I-20 or DS-2019 with a unique barcode number and must be listed on the SEVIS website.