These instructions are provided as a courtesy to the spouses of J-1 scholars at MIT. They do not constitute legal advice.
Permission to work will not be authorized by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) if the employment is for the support of the J-1 exchange visitor. The money earned by a J-2 spouse may be for J-2 travel, recreational, or cultural activities. If the income is needed to support the exchange visitor, USCIS will not authorize employment.
The current processing time for J-2 work authorization applications is up to 90 days or longer. J-2 work authorization is generally granted for one year, or for the period of time you are authorized to stay in the United States, as indicated on the Form DS-2019 (if less than one year). However, if the Form DS-2019 is valid for more than one year, USCIS may, at its discretion, issue an employment authorization document (EAD) that is valid for a longer period of time. Requests for a longer validity period should be made in writing at the time of application. Enclose a cover letter requesting work authorization until the ending date on the Form DS-2019.
If you are preparing to submit a J-2 work permission application (Form I-765 and accompanying documents) to USCIS, please thoroughly review the checklist below:
If you have any questions after preparing the application materials listed above, we are available on Friday afternoons between 2:00 and 3:00 pm to answer general questions about the J-2 work permission application.
MAKE COPIES OF EVERYTHING FOR YOUR OWN RECORDS BEFORE YOU SEND THE APPLICATION. We suggest you mail this application at the post office by "certified mail/return receipt requested" or express mail.
For U.S. Postal Service Deliveries:
PO Box 660867
Dallas, TX 75266
For Express Mail Deliveries:
2501 S. State Hwy. 121 Business
Lewisville, TX 75067
PLEASE NOTE: If you do NOT live in Massachusetts, you may be required to mail your application to a different address. Click here for more information.
Your work permission will not be in effect until USCIS approves it. Once approved, USCIS will send you an Employment Authorization Document (EAD).Make copies of both sides of the EAD when you recieve it, and keep the cardboard slip it is attached to, as you will need it for any extension applications.
You may check the status of your application online, once you receive a receipt notice from USCIS. If you have a problem with your application, call the National Customer Service Center at 1-800-375-5283 or 1-800-767-1833 (TTY).
Social Security Number and Taxes:
After receiving your EAD, you must apply for a Social Security number by going in person to the Social Security Administration. Take your passport; most recent admission stamp in the passport and printout of the electronic I-94 admission record OR photocopies of paper Form I-94 (front and back), if applicable; Form DS-2019, and EAD with you to show work authorization.
Earnings of J-2 visa holders are subject to U.S. Social Security taxes, as well as federal and state income taxes. See IRS Publication 519, "United States Tax Guide for Aliens," available from the IRS website.
Finding a job:
Spouses&partners@mit provides information on finding a job in the Newcomers' Guide.
If you and the J-1 exchange visitor will remain in the United States after the end date of your current EAD, you must obtain an extension of employment authorization in order to continue working.The application procedure is the same as for your original permission. Send a copy of your current EAD [include the cardboard slip that your current EAD was attached to when you received it in the mail] along with the other required documents as outlined on the checklist. Another EAD will be issued with new dates. The J-1's extension of stay must be granted before Form I-765 for extension of work permission for the J-2 is submitted to USCIS. It is important to complete both the extension of stay and the extension of employment authorization procedures before the expiration date of the J-1's current Form DS-2019.
Last Updated: February 2015