If J-2 dependents are approved for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD), they may work either full-time or part-time. To qualify, applicants must: 1) be in active J status and 2) work only between the dates authorized on the EAD. EAD extensions may be possible if the additional time fits within the DS-2019 program dates. Work is not permitted during gaps between the end of one EAD and the start of another. International travel can impact applications. Discuss your plans with an OISS advisor before applying.
OISS can advise on the application process, but applicants are responsible for authenticity of answers and submission process.
In addition to the guidance on this website, be sure to review https://www.uscis.gov/i-765.
• Applicants must be in active J-2 status as documented on Forms I-94 and DS-2019. [8 CFR 214.2(j)(1)(v)(A)]
• J-2 employment should not support the J-1 in the United States. Rather, it must “support the family's customary recreational and cultural activities and related travel, among other things. Employment will not be authorized if this income is needed to support the J-1 principal alien.“ [8 CFR 214.2(j)(1)(v)(A)]
• Applicants may begin work only after receiving the Employment Authorization Document (EAD) and after the start date on the EAD. The EAD is an identification card laminated in plastic, with the individual’s photograph and the expiration date of the work authorization. [8 CFR 214.2(j)(1)(v)(A)]
- STEP 1: Meet with OISS Advisor
We strongly recommend that applicants meet with an OISS advisor to understand the process of applying for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD). To schedule an appointment, please call 713-348-6095 or email email@example.com.
- STEP 2: Prepare Documents
Collect all the necessary documentation:
• Two U.S. Passport Photos (with name and I-94 number written lightly in pencil on the back of each photo), taken within the past 30 days. Many places in Houston provide U.S. passport style photos including Walgreens and CVS.
• Check or Money Order made payable to the “U.S. Department of Homeland Security” with the SEVIS number in the memo line OR Form G-1450 authorizing a credit card payment (only U.S. credit cards may be used). Money orders can be purchased at banks, post offices, and some local grocery stores. For information the payment cost, please see: Form I-765 Directions under “Filing Fee”.
• Form G-1145, E-Notification of Application/Petition Acceptance to confirm receipt number (optional). If submitted, make sure to place on top of the packet of other required documents.
• Fully completed and signed Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization. Tips for completing this form are available at the bottom of this section.
• J-2 Work Permission Letter. Download an example template here.
• Photocopies (not originals) of J-1 and J-2 immigration information (DS-2019s, passport ID pages, J-1 and J-2 visa stamps, and electronic I-94 Forms
• Financial documentation. Photocopy of the funding documentation dated within the past 6 months (Rice offer letters/pay stubs, bank statements, etc.).
• Proof of marriage. Photocopy of marriage certificate with certified translation if not in English.
• Photocopy of previous EAD card(s), if applicable.
Note: Make sure to make copies of all documents submitted to USCIS for your important records.
Tips for completing the Form I-765
The information below is not intended to be legal advice, but general suggestions for how you might proceed when completing the Form I-765. You also want to read the official USCIS instructions at https://www.uscis.gov/i-765. At this time J-2s are not able to e-file the Form I-765.
Make sure to check the Edition Date of your Form I-765 and verify that it is the currently accepted edition as listed at https://www.uscis.gov/i-765.
We strongly recommend that the form is typed on a computer, and only printed for an original signature. USCIS recommends using the most recent version of Adobe Reader for best functionality of the form. Handwritten responses can lead to misinterpreted characters, etc., but if you wish to still submit a handwritten form, please use black ink and make sure that all responses are strictly within the lines of the answer box.
Part 2. Information About You - Other Information
• Question 8. (Alien Registration Number) – It is likely that you do not know your A-number unless you have previously applied for an EAD. If you have a previous EAD, please include the number titled “USCIS #” on your EAD.
• Question 9. (USCIS Online Account Number) – Unless you have a USCIS Online Account Number, you can leave this field blank.
• Question 14. (Social Security card) – If you do not yet have a Social Security Number in the U.S., you can apply for an SSN concurrently on the Form I-765.
• Question 21. (Form I-94 Arrival-Departure Record Number) – I-94 number can be found under “Get Most Recent I-94” and it must match the I-94 you submit with your EAD application.
• Question 27. (Eligibility Category) – The eligibility category for J-2 applicants should be entered as "(C)(5)( )”.
Part 3. Applicant’s Statement, Contact Information, Declaration, Certification, and Signature
• Question 7. (Applicant's Signature) – Please note that the Form I-765 requires an original, handwritten signature. Electronic signatures are not accepted by USCIS. Make sure your signature fits in the box provided.
Make sure to include all pages of the Form I-765 with your application, even if they don't have information entered. The form should be printed single-sided.
- STEP 3: Submit Application to USCIS
Submit your application to the appropriate Lockbox location. Look under “Foreign students” and then “(c)(5) - Spouse/dependent of J-1 exchange visitor (J-2 nonimmigrant status)” for the address (which can be different based on which state you are filing from). There will most likely be two addresses – one for the United States Postal Service (USPS) and one for courier services like FedEx and UPS.
- STEP 4: Wait for USCIS Processing
Wait for the government to process your application and check your mail.
USCIS may take several months to review and process applications. International travel is not recommended during this time. Once you have your receipt number you may check the status of your application at USCIS’ Case Status Online.
Notices regarding the status of the application may be mailed to the applicant. These include: a receipt notice, an approval notice, and the EAD. Other notices may be sent as well, so it is important to check the mail often.
- STEP 5: Receive your EAD
First, check to make sure the card has a correct spelling of your name and the dates for authorization are accurate. If there is an issue, please contact an OISS advisor for next steps.
Submit a copy to the OISS at http://bit.ly/oissdocs. Use the name of the J-1 on the form, so OISS can find the correct record.
Please note that you may not work without a valid EAD card.
- STEP 6: Start working!
The EAD allows you to work at any job, full-time or part-time.
Apply for a U.S. Social Security Number if you do not have one already and did not apply for one on the Form I-765. https://www.ssa.gov/pubs/EN-05-10096.pdf
You will most likely be taxed for any income earned in the U.S.
You may work part-time or full-time, at any job, for any employer (except that you may not practice medicine, even if you hold a license).
There is no legal limit to the amount that you may earn.
EAD Renewal Process
Applicants can apply for a renewal EAD up to 180 days prior to the end date of the current EAD, as long at the J-1 still has time left in their program.
Additionally, applicants should mark “renewal of my permission to accept employment” instead of “permission to accept employment” on the I-765. All other documents, to our knowledge, are the same.
Frequently Asked Questions
- How do I find out more about taxes in the U.S. if I work?
OISS staff are not tax experts but the following webpage outlines the tax process and timelines as well as upcoming workshops that are aimed to prepare you on how to file: https://oiss.rice.edu/tax
- Can I file for my Social Security Number with my application for an EAD?
Yes! There is a part of the I-765 that focuses on Social Security Numbers.