Dependents (legal spouse and/or unmarried children under age 21) of J-1 visa holders may apply to enter the U.S. in J-2 status. Dependents planning to accompany the J-1 or to join the J-1 later in the U.S. must have their own Form DS-2019 and must have a J-2 entry stamp in their passport.
The J-1 visa holder may apply for a new Form DS-2019 for their dependents by downloading and filling out the Family Member application. It may be necessary to provide additional financial certification in order for the dependent DS-2019 to be issued
It is very important that J-1 Exchange Visitors have sufficient funds to be able to support their families for the remainder of the J-1 program.
All J-2 visa holders are also required to be covered by health insurance.
Employment for J-2 Dependents
Persons in J-2 status may apply for work permission from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) in order to be employed in the U.S. as long as the money earned by the J-2 will not be used to support the J-1 Exchange Visitor. Applications and Instructions on applying for J-2 work permission are available on the USCIS website. Processing times for the Employment Authorization Documents (EADs) vary.
J-2 Dependents taking classes
The current regulations do not prohibit J-2 dependents from attending school either part-time or full-time and pursing a degree program. It should be noted however that a J-2 dependent’s status is connected to the J-1 and therefore if the J-1’s status ends or changes to another immigration status, the J-2’s status also ends or changes. A J-2 student may want to discuss with an advisor at ISSS the options of changing to an F-1 or J-1 student visa to avoid future difficulties.
J-2 Dependent Travel
Before a J-2 dependent travels outside of the US (including Mexico and Canada) they should check to make sure they have all the necessary travel documentation. The travel validation box can be found in the lower right corner of the Form DS-2019. This signature is required for re-entry into the U.S. in J-2 status from abroad. There is no known restriction on the amount of time a J-2 dependent can be abroad. However, if a J-2 dependent leaves the U.S. and has no intention of returning in J-2 status, they should notify ISSS so that their J-2 status can be ended in SEVIS.
J-2 Change of Status
If a J-2 dependent is pursuing a change of status they should be in communication with ISSS. Once their status has been officially changed to another status, they must notify ISSS so that their J-2 status can be ended in SEVIS as per the regulations of the Department of Homeland Security.
For inviting family members that do not qualify for J-2 visa status, please refer to this handout Invite Family Members.