The spouse and unmarried minor children (under 21 years of age) of the J-1 exchange visitor are granted J-2 derivative status. When completing the J-1 Exchange Visitor Information Form, a prospective J-1 exchange visitor should include information for all dependents accompanying him or her to the United States. Each dependent will be issued a separate Form DS-2019. J-2 dependents can accompany the J-1 principal or enter the U.S. separately.
They are allowed to work, but must apply for and be in receipt of an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services before beginning any type of employment. The EAD is usually valid for only one year, and it is important that J-2 dependents file for an extension of employment authorization well in advance of the expiration date of the current authorization to assure uninterrupted employment.
If a J-2’s EAD expires before the new one is issued, he/she will be required to terminate employment. Since the J-2’s status is tied directly to and dependent upon the J-1 principal’s status, the J-2’s work authorization is only valid as long as the J-1 maintains status.
If a J-1 exchange visitor is subject to the two-year home residence requirement, his/her J-2 dependents are automatically subject to the requirement. Therefore, if the J-1 principal obtains a waiver of the home residence requirement, his/her dependents will be included in the waiver.
J-2 dependents are allowed to remain in the U.S. when it is necessary for the J-1 exchange visitor to travel outside the U.S. A J-1’s travel time should be limited to 30 days under these circumstances.