Employment Information

J-1 Employment Authorization

You cannot work for an institution other than the one listed on your DS-2019 unless you have received the required written authorization from the international advisor in advance (consult the international advisor for details). You must always conduct research/teaching only at the institution at which you are authorized to work by the Department of State (DOS) (Usually the institution that issues the DS-2019 form).

J-2 Employment Authorization

Dependents of J-1 scholars and students who are in the U.S. in J-2 status are eligible to apply to the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for work authorization. This authorization is considered a privilege by USCIS and is NOT automatically guaranteed. This handout will explain restrictions and how to apply for J-2 work authorization.


  • J-2 work authorizations are obtained through a mail-in application to the USCIS that takes 3-6 months to process.

  • The J-2 dependent may not begin to work until s/he receives the Employment Authorization Document (EAD) from the USCIS.

  • J-2 work permits allow the holder to work in any job, full-time or part-time, but employment may not extend beyond the end date on the EAD. A pending application for extension of stay or for a new EAD does not authorize you to continue working. Therefore, extensions of work authorization should be applied well in advance of the expiration date of the EAD (4 months in advance).

  • USCIS can authorize J-2 employment for up to one year at a time, as long as the J-1 Exchange Visitor has permission to stay until one year from the date of authorization. If the time remaining on the DS-2019 is less than one year, the EAD will be valid ONLY until the end date on the DS-2019.

  • There is no legal limit to the amount that a J-2 may earn. However, the earnings of J-2 dependents are subject to applicable federal, state, local, and Social Security taxes (FICA) and employers are required by law to withhold those taxes from paychecks. By April 15 you must file federal income tax returns with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), covering the prior calendar year.

  • J-2 work permission is limited to a maximum of four years.

Other Important Information

  • SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBER: To put you on the payroll, your employer will need your Social Security number, which you can obtain by applying for a Social Security card. Take your passport, I-94 Departure/Arrival Card, copy of your and your spouse’s J-1 Form DS-2019, and your EAD to the Social Security office (4300 Cutler NE, Albuquerque, Hours: M-F 9am-4pm).

  • HOME RESIDENCY AND EMPLOYER CONCERNS: If the J-1 student or scholar is subject to the two-year home residency requirement, his or her J-2 dependents are also subject to the requirement and are prevented from switching to an H or other employment visa until the J-1 gets a waiver of the requirement or returns home for two years. Because employers are aware of the two-year home return requirement for J visa holders, some employers MAY be reluctant to hire those on J-2 visas for longer-term positions even if they have work permission. If you have questions about whether or not you are subject to the two–year requirement, please consult an international advisor in GEO.

Assemble the following items-

  • A $410 check payable to “Department of Homeland Security” if your application will be postmarked on or after 07/30/2007. Including the correct fee with your application is important as USCIS may reject applications with an incorrect application fee.

  • Form I-765 available at http://www.uscis.gov/files/form/I-765.pdf Complete form. Don’t forget to sign at the bottom. On item #9, leave blank if you don’t have a social security number. On item #16, put in the code “(c)(5)().” Please note this form was revised on 02/08/2007. The Revision date is located in the bottom right corner of the form. USCIS will only accept the Form I-765 that reflects these revisions.

  • Two passport photos secured in an envelope and attached to the application. Pictures can be taken at a photo shop. In pencil (or lightly in pen), print your name and write your admission number (I-94#) on the back of each photo

  • Financial Statement. See instructions and sample below. The USCIS will not approve an EAD application if the J-2 employment income is needed for support of the J-1.

  • Evidence of Funds. Photocopy of J-1’s funding source documentation.

  • Copies of J-1 and J-2 passports, visas, I-94s, and all DS-2019s.

  • FOR EXTENSION/RENEWAL OF THE EMPLOYMENT AUTHORIZATION DOCUMENT (EAD),which takes 3-6 months, include all of the above items PLUS:

    • Copies of all previous EADs-Photocopies of all previously issued EAD cards from USCIS.

Write a Financial Statement Letter

This is a sample; please modify your letter in order to best describe your situation.

(Your name)
(Your street address), (Your city, state, zip code)
Dear Sir or Madam:

I, (your name), am the J-2 dependent of the J-1 Exchange Visitor (J-1’s name) and I wish to apply for J-2 employment authorization. My (spouse or parent) receives a (salary, grant, or stipend) from (specify source) sufficient to provide for all of our expenses. My income is not necessary to help financially support the family. I would like the opportunity to work for professional development (cultural or educational purposes or language opportunities). Please grant me the permission to be employed.

Enclosed are all required documents for my application (list documents). Thank you very much for your assistance.

(Your signature)
(your name)

Mail Your Application and All Attachments to USCIS

Make copies of all the documents for your records. Mail the application in a large envelope to the USCIS at:

PO Box 660867
Dallas, TX 75266

Mail the application by “certified mail, return receipt” which you request at the Post Office. Write “I-765” in red letters in the lower left corner of the envelope. When the receipt comes back to you, keep it with your application copies. Within 4-6 weeks of mailing your application to the USCIS, you should receive a standard “Notice of Action” letter stating that USCIS has received the application. The Notice of Action is a very important document that can help track the status of your application. The case number in the top left corner of this receipt notice can be used to call USCIS or look on their website at http://uscis.gov to check on your case. If you do not get this letter within 6 weeks of mailing your application, contact an advisor at GEO for more information.

Tax Obligations & Information

WHAT: Mandatory International Scholar Tax Requirements

WHO: All international scholars and dependents

WHEN: Tax Forms for Year 2016 are due by April 18, 2017!

Tax Obligations for International Scholars:

All international students and scholars (and their dependents) must complete at least one tax form for each calendar year in which they are present in the U.S., even if they have no income from a U.S. source. GEO makes available the necessary forms and instruction booklets as well as certain tax services to help students comply with these regulations beginning in mid-February of each year (tax forms must be sent by the student to the U.S. government by April of each year).

GEO also organizes a volunteer assistance program and informational tax workshops. However, the staff of GEO cannot provide tax advice outside of the volunteer program. The tax filing process will be relatively simple for students and scholars who had NO U.S. source income. However, the tax filing process will be complex for those individuals with U.S. source income. These individuals will need to plan on spending many hours and even days trying to complete the necessary tax forms. Therefore, we advise everyone to start completing the forms well in advance of the tax deadline.

Depending on your scholar or student status, please click the links below and read the Tax Messages and Presentations.

Tax Information for International Students & Scholars:

Social Security Administration Information for J-1 Scholars

Click here for more info