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Spouses and unmarried children under the age of 21 of J-1 exchange visitors may obtain J-2 visas to accompany their parent or spouse to the United States. Eligibility for a J-1 visa depends on the specific exchange program being offered to the J-1 non-immigrant by their sponsor organization. The exchange categories of au pair, camp counselor, secondary school student and summer work travel do not permit J-2 visas. The J-2 visa holder may remain in the United States as long as the principle J-1 visa holder has valid J-1 status.
The application procedure for a J-2 visa is the same as that for a primary visa applicant. The sponsor must approve the accompaniment of the spouse and/or children who will be each issued their own Form DS-2019.
One of the major benefits of the Exchange Visitor Program is that the J-1 visa is the only non-immigrant visa that allows employment by dependents. J-2 status holders may accept employment with USCIS authorization, provided that their income is not used to support a J-1 holder.
J-2 holders who are applying for employment authorization should complete a Form I-765 (Application for Employment Authorization) along with a $380 filing fee. After obtaining an employment authorization document, the J-2 holder may accept offers from any employer within the authorized period. Current regulations provide that if the USCIS cannot complete the application review within 90 days after the application has been filed, an interim employment authorization period of 240 days must be granted.
For more information about J-2 visas please visit the U.S. Department of State’s J-1 Exchange Visitor Program website.
For more information about J-1 visa, please refer to the following links:
J-1 General Issues
Specific Information on J-1 Waivers