For Dependents of J1 Visa Holders
If you are the spouse or child of a J1 visa holder (Exchange visitor), you can join your family member in the United States with a J2 visa.
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What is a J2 visa?
The J2 visa is a non-immigrant visa that is designed for the dependents of a J1 visa holder (Exchange visitor). Under a J2 visa, the J1 holder’s spouse and children under 21 years of age can join them in the U.S. while he or she completes the J1 program.
The J2 visa has certain limitations, including:
- Parents, siblings and other extended family members are not eligible
- The J1 visa sponsoring organization must sponsor the J2 dependents
- Certain J1 categories do not allow J2 dependents to be sponsored, including au pair, camp counsellor, secondary school student, and work and travel participants.
Note that the validity of the J2 visa is determined by the status of the J1 visa. So if the status of the J1 visa changes, the J2 visa will also correspondingly change.
The J2 visa is not subject to a yearly cap so there is no limit to the number of people who can be approved for this visa.
Once in the U.S., J2 visa holders are free to apply for a work permit, obtain a driver’s license, open a bank account, enrol in an academic study, and travel in and out of the U.S. without restriction, as long as their J2 visa remains valid.
How do you apply for a J2 visa?
To be eligible for the J2 visa, the J1 visa holder’s sponsoring employer must be willing to provide J2 visa sponsorship. Each dependent who wishes to enter the U.S. with the J1 visa holder will need to secure J2 visa sponsorship.
Some programs such as camp supervisor or au pair do not allow for J2 dependents to be sponsored.
The J2 visa application process is similar to that of the J1 visa. The J1 sponsor will issue a separate DS-2019 form (Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor Status). This form must be completed for each dependent who will be accompanying the J1 visa holder.
The next step is to apply online by completing form DS-160, uploading a photo and paying the required fee (currently $160). You will need to print the confirmation page after the form is submitted. Then an interview at your nearest U.S. embassy or consulate needs to be scheduled.
You will need to bring supporting documents with you to the interview:
- Your passport – must be valid for at least 6 months after your entry into the U.S.
- The DS-160 confirmation page
- Receipt for fee payment
- Photo (if you were not able to upload it online when you completed the DS-160 form)
- Your completed form DS-2019
- A copy of the J1 visa holder’s DS-2019 form
- Form DS-7002 (Training/Internship Placement Plan) (if applicable)
- Marriage certificate (if applying as a spouse)
- Birth certificate (if applying as a child)
- Supporting financial documents which prove that you have sufficient funds to cover travel expenses
At the embassy / consulate interview, you will be asked questions about your purpose for going to the U.S. and what you plan to do there. You will also be asked about your relationship with the J1 visa holder, and their financial situation.
Children under 13 years of age will not be interviewed.
If your application is deemed satisfactory, you could be issued a J2 visa in your passport straight away, or the decision will be given at a later date. Depending on your nationality, you may be asked to pay an additional visa issuance fee.
After you have received your J2 visa, you may travel to the U.S. either with the J1 visa holder or at a later point. J2 visa holders are not allowed to enter the U.S. before the J1 visa holder.
Who is eligible for a J2 visa?
The J2 visa is designed for the following family members:
- Spouse or same-sex partner of an approved J1 visa holder. Fiancé(e)s and unmarried partners are not eligible.
- Unmarried children under the age of 21 who are not living an independent life
How to get a work permit as a J2 visa holder
One of the advantages of having a J2 visa is that once you’re in the U.S. you can obtain a work permit.
To get a work permit you must submit form 1-765 (Application for Employment Authorization) to USCIS.
If this is approved, you will be granted an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) which will allow you to work for one year. If you would like to continue working after that, as long as your J2 is valid, you can apply each year for further work authorization.
The following documents need to be submitted when applying for a work permit:
- Form I-765
- Copy of form DS-2019
- Copy of form I-94 (arrival/departure record)
- Copy of passport – name and visa pages
- Copy of J1 visa holder’s form DS-2019
- Copy of J1 visa holder’s form I-94 (arrival/departure record)
- Copy of J1 visa holder’s passport – name and visa pages
- 2 American-style passport photos
- Copy of your marriage certificate
- A letter from your future employer, if you are already in receipt of a job offer
When applying for a work permit, it is important to make it clear that your reasons for wishing to work are not out of financial necessity, since you cannot use this money to support the principal J1 visa holder.
Usually, you will receive your work permit in 3-5 months. You’ll also receive a Social Security Number (SSN) and must pay all required taxes from job earnings.
Note that the work permit is valid as long as the J1 visa holder maintains his immigration status. If the J1 holder changes or loses their status, the J2 work permit will become invalid.
Can you study in the U.S. on a J2 Visa?
As well as being able to work in the U.S., J2 visa holders can enroll in academic courses without the need for an F1 student visa. The study programs can be academic, such as for a degree or simply recreational.
You may study as a full-time or part-time student, and you can withdraw from your studies at any time you wish. However, if you haven’t completed your studies at the point the J2 visa expires, you must then adjust your status to an F1 student visa.
Note that adjustment of your immigration status is only possible if your current status is not subject to the 2-year home residence rule.
What is the 2-year home residence requirement?
Some exchange visitors under a J1 visa may be subject to a 2-year home-residence rule. This rule requires the exchange visitor to return to their home country at the end of the program for at least 2 years before they can apply for another U.S. visa.
If the J1 visa holder cannot return home and wishes to change their immigration status so they can remain in the U.S., a waiver must be obtained. The 2-year home-residence rule may be waived if:
- A no-objection statement is issued by your home country’s government (No-objection statement waiver)
- An “Interested Government Agency Waiver” request has been made by a U.S. Federal Government Agency
- The visa holder can show that their departure from the U.S. would cause exceptional hardship to their U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident (LPR) spouse or child (Exceptional hardship waiver)
- The applicant can prove that he or she would be persecuted based on their race, religion, or political opinion if they return to their home country? (Persecution waiver)
- A request has been made by a designated State Public Health Department or its equivalent
More information on waivers can be found here.
How long is the J2 visa valid?
The J2 visa is directly related to the main J1 visa, so the duration of J2 visa will be the same as for the J1 visa.
If a visa extension is approved for a J1 visa, the J2 visa holder can also seek an extension.
If the J1 visa holder (exchange visitor) has to return to their home country to satisfy the 2-year home residency requirement, the J2 visa holder must do the same. If however, the J1 visa holder does not need to satisfy the 2-year home residency requirement, J2 visa holders may adjust their immigration to stay in the U.S. if they find work where the employer will sponsor their new work visa.
What is the processing time for a J2 visa?
The processing time for most U.S. visas depends on the workload and any backlogs at U.S. Embassy or Consulate where you apply. However, usually, J2 visas are processed within 30 days.
How can Total Law help me?
Here at Total Law, our immigration lawyers specialize in helping UK citizens apply for all kinds of U.S. visas, including student (F1 and F2 visas) and exchange program visas (J1 and J2 visas).
We can guide you through the often complex process of applying for the appropriate visa, as well as assisting with visas for any dependents you wish to bring with you to the U.S. Our lawyers will answer any questions you may have about eligibility, the application process, or other queries, and ensure your application is in top form.
Total Law immigration lawyers are well versed in all other matters of U.S. and UK immigration law as well, including family visas, U.S. citizenship for UK citizens and family-based Green Cards.
Get in touch today on 0333 305 9375 to find out more about how our immigration lawyers can help with your visa application.
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Frequently Asked Questions
Parents and siblings do not qualify for certain visas such as F2 or J2 as they are not classed as immediate relatives.
However, you can visit your student child in the U.S. for a maximum of 6 months with a B2 Visitor visa.
Yes, you may return to the United States as a tourist under a B2 Tourist Visitor visa.
No, you do not need to apply for a waiver as well. If a J1 visa holder is granted a waiver, this will apply to J2 visa holders as well.
Unfortunately not. To obtain a J2 visa, you must be married to your J1 partner.