- What is a J2 Visa?
- How to apply for a J2 Visa?
- Who is eligible for a Dependents Visa?
- How to get a work permit as a J2 Visa holder
- Can you study in the U.S. on a J2 Visa?
- What is the 2-year home residence requirement?
- How long is the J2 visa valid?
- What is the Processing time for a J2 Visa?
- How can Total Law help me?
What is a J2 Visa?
The J2 visa is a non-immigrant visa for the dependents of a J1 visa holder (Exchange visitor). Under this visa, immediate relatives (spouse and children under 21 years old) are able to join their spouse or parent in the U.S. while they complete their program.
There are, however, limitations to this visa. For example, extended family members such as parents and siblings, do not qualify for this dependent visa. Spouses and unmarried children under the age of 21 can apply only if the organization sponsoring the J1 visa allows for J2 dependents in their program. Also, this type of dependents visa is not open to certain J1 categories like au pair, camp counselor, secondary school student, or work and travel participants.
It should also be noted that the validity of the J2 visa is dependent on the status of the J1 visa. Therefore, if the status of the J1 visa changes, the J2 visa changes as well. Luckily, J2 visas are not subject to a yearly cap which means that there is no limitation to the number of people who can get this type of visa.
Once they are in the U.S., J2 visa holders can apply for a work permit, enroll in an academic study, obtain a driver’s license, open a bank account and travel freely in and out of the U.S. as long as their J2 visa is valid.
How to apply for a J2 Visa?
Acquiring a J2 visa will depend on the type of program the J1 visa holder is enrolled in. For example, if they are in a program that does not allow a dependents visa, such as au pair or camp counselor, they are ineligible to apply for a J2 visa. Furthermore, eligible J1 visa holders who wish to have their immediate family members join them in the U.S. while completing their program must have their employer agree to sponsor the J2 visa petition.
If you are eligible for a dependents visa and have a sponsorship agreement with your employer, you can then start your J2 visa. To do this, you must include details of each member in the main J1 application. After those details are given, you will be issued a separate DS-2019 Form (Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor Status). You must complete this form for each dependent who is going to accompany the J1 visa holder.
After you have filled out and submitted each DS-2019 form, you will then be asked to apply online. You can do this by completing and submitting the DS-160 form, uploading your photo to the form, and paying the application fee (currently $160). After this, you will need to schedule an interview appointment at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate nearest you. You will need to bring the following documents with you to the interview:
- A passport that is valid for at least 6 months after your entry into the U.S.
- The DS-160 confirmation page
- Application fee payment receipt
- Photo (If you could not upload it online to your DS-160 Form)
- Your completed Form DS-2019 (Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor Status)
- 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 certificates (if applying as a child)
- Any supporting financial documents which prove that you have enough funds to cover travel expenses
At the interview, J2 visa applicants will be asked questions about their intentions and what they play to do once they are in the U.S., their relationship with the J1 visa holder, and their financial situation. Children under 13 years old will not be interviewed.
If everything checks out and you do not need additional administrative processing, you will be issued a J2 visa in your passport. Depending on your nationality, you may need to pay an additional visa issuance fee.
After you have received your J2 visa, you can then travel to the U.S. with the J1 visa holder or meet them in the United States at a later date. You can not enter the U.S. under a J2 visa before the J1 visa holder.
Who is eligible for a Dependents Visa?
This dependents visa is available for the following immediate family members if approved by their sponsor:
- Spouse or same-sex partner of an approved J1 visa holder
- Unmarried children under the age of 21 who are not living an independent life
The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will require genuine proof of marriage (marriage certificate) in order to issue a J2 visa. Therefore, fiancé(e)s and unmarried partners are not eligible.
How to get a work permit as a J2 Visa holder
One of the benefits of having a J2 visa is that it also allows visa holders to obtain a work permit once they enter the United States. To do this, J2 visa holders must first submit Form 1-765 (Application for Employment Authorization) to USCIS. If approved, they will then be granted an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) which will allow the applicant to seek employment for up to 1 year. If you wish to continue working while in the U.S. you can apply for further authorization every year until the end of the J2 visa.
To apply for a work permit, you must submit the following:
- Form I-765
- Copies of your DS-2019 Form, Form I-94 (Arrival/Departure Record) and passport (name and visa pages)
- Copies of the J1 visa holder’s DS-2019 Form, Form I-94 (Arrival/Departure Record) and passport (name and visa pages)
- 2 American-style passport photos
- A copy of your marriage certificate
When you apply for a work permit, it is important to mention that the reason you are seeking work is not out of financial necessity. You can not use this money as a means to support the principal J1 visa holder. If you have already found a job when applying for a work permit, you may include a letter from your future employer with your application.
Your employment permit will usually arrive in 3-5 months. When you receive it, you will also get a Social Security Number (SSN) and must pay all taxes from your job earnings. Again, the J2 visa holder’s status is directly tied to the principal J1 holder so if the J1 visa holder losses or changes his/her status, the J2 work permit will become invalid.
Can you study in the U.S. on a J2 Visa?
In addition to being able to work in the United States with an employment permit, J2 visa holders can also enroll in academic programs without having to file for an F1 visa. These programs can be either recreational or in the effort to obtain a degree.
Those who are eligible can enroll in any academic program as full-time or part-time student. They can discontinue their studies at any time if they choose to do so. If, however, they have not yet completed their studies by the time their J2 visa expires, they must then submit a petition to adjust their status to an F1 student visa.
It should be noted that they can only adjust their status if their current immigration status is not subject to the 2-year home residence requirement.
What is the 2-year home residence requirement?
Some exchange visitors who entered the United States under J1 visas may be subject to a 2-year home-residence requirement. Under this requirement, the exchange visitor must return to their home country after their program ends and live there for at least 2 years before applying for another visa.
If the exchange visitor can not return home and would like to change their visa status, they must apply for a waiver. The home residence requirement can be waived if:
- A no-objection statement is issued by the government of the home country of the applicant
- A request has been made by an interested U.S. Federal Government Agency
- The visa holder can demonstrate that their presence in the U.S. is required to provide for their U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident spouse or child
- The applicant can prove that he or she would be persecuted in his or her home country
- A request has been made by a designated State Public Health Department or its equivalent.
How long is the J2 visa valid?
The J2 visa is directly reliant on the principal J1 visa. Therefore, the length of validity of the J1 visa will be the same for the J2 visa. If a visa extension is approved for a J1 visa, the J2 visa is then also eligible for a visa extension. If an exchange visitor must return to their home country to satisfy a 2-year residency requirement, the J2 visa holder must also do the same.
If the exchange visitor and his/her dependents are not subject to the 2-year home residency requirement, J2 visa holders can adjust their visa status if they find a job that would sponsor their new work visa.
What is the Processing time for a J2 Visa?
As usual, the processing time for any U.S. visa will depend on the caseload and backlog of the U.S. Embassy or Consulate from which you apply. However, most J2 visas are processed within 30 days.
How can Total Law help me?
Here at Total Law, our immigration lawyers specialize in helping people apply for a variety of different student US visas, including for the J1 and J2 Visas. They can guide you through the process of applying for an Exchange Visitor Visa along with any eligible dependents visas that may accompany it. Our lawyers will answer any questions you might have and make sure that your application is in top form.
Get in touch today on +1 844 290 6312 to find out more about how our lawyers can help with your visa application.
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If you are a parent or sibling and therefore do not qualify as an immediate relative, you can still visit your family member in the United States by applying for a B2 Visitor Visa. Keep in mind that the longest you can stay in the U.S. under this visa is 6 months.
If you were an exchange visitor or a dependent of an exchange visitor who must return to their home country in order to satisfy the 2-year residency requirement, you may return to the United States to visit friends and travel under a BS Tourist Visitor Visa.
Since the J2 visa is dependent and directly tied to the J1 visa, you do not to apply for a waiver as well. All waivers granted to J1 applicants also apply to J2 visa holders.