U.S. Work Permit For Dependents:

Find Out If You Qualify


Dependents of those with nonimmigrant work visas in the US cannot work in the US unless they qualify for a work visa in their own or are eligible to work by obtaining the employment authorization document (“EAD”)through their dependent status.

Those who obtain the EAD can work part-time or full-time, in any occupation. EAD holders can even start and run their own businesses.  Those in dependent visa status who obtain EAD generally cannot commence working until the EAD is approved and can only work while the EAD is valid (they are not authorized to work while an EAD renewal is pending).

Here, we present a brief overview of the most common dependent nonimmigrant visa categories and whether or not they are eligible for employment authorization.

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Dependants of H Nonimmigrants (H-4 Visa)

Generally, dependents in H-4 status cannot work in the U.S. and are not eligible for employment authorization.

H-4 spouses of those in H-1B status who have an approved I-140 or are in the process of obtaining the green card may be able to obtain the EAD, known as the “H-4 EAD.”

Dependants of L-1 Nonimmigrants (L-2 Visa)

L-2 spouses are eligible to work and can apply for the EAD.  L-2 children cannot apply for EAD.

Dependants of E-1, E-2 And E-3 Nonimmigrants

Dependant spouses of E-1 and E-2 and E-3 visa holders may apply for the EAD.  Dependent children are not eligible for EAD.

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Dependants of J-1 Nonimmigrants (J-2 Visa)

Those in J-2 status may apply for the EAD. However, the J-2 spouse must show that s/he is not going to work in order to support the J-1 holder.

Dependants of F-1 Nonimmigrants (F-2 Visa)

Those in F-2 status cannot work in the U.S. Additionally, an F-2 spouse may not engage in full time study and the F-2 child may only engage in full time elementary or secondary school (kindergarten through twelfth grade). F-2 spouse or child may engage in a study that is vocational or recreational in nature.


It’s important to be aware of your ability to work in the U.S. if you decide to accompany your spouse to the U.S. on a nonimmigrant dependent visa.  While many dependents are authorized to be employed, it is important to remember that in almost all cases, the spouse must first obtain the employment authorization document before commencing employment.  Dependent spouses may also be eligible to seek and obtain their own independent employment based nonimmigrant status.

If you are in the U.S. on a nonimmigrant dependent spouse visa category, contact VisaPro to discuss your options regarding employment.

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