Student Immigration Definitions

Obtaining J-1 Exchange Visitor
Student Category Status at Columbia

Transfer of J-1 Supervision

Change of Status to F-1

Potential Delays in Visa Issuance


Student Tax Information

Message for Canadian Students

Maintaining J-1 Status

DS-2019 Recertification

Health Insurance Overview for J-1 Students

J-1 Travel Information

DHS Information on Arrival Problems

J-1 Extension of Stay (Current Program)

J-1 Extension of Stay to Begin New Program


J-1 Work Opportunities

Employment Authorization for J-2

J-1 Academic Training

J-1 Leave of Absence, Suspension or Withdrawal

Student Departure Information

Home Country Residency Requirement

J-1 Last Term Authorization

Address Change Form

Employment Authorization for Dependents in J-2 Status

Eligibility: Dependents of J-1 Exchange Visitors in J-2 visa status are eligible to apply to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for employment authorization. Bear in mind that J-2 dependents are NOT permitted to work or to receive a US Social Security Number until they have received an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) card from the USCIS. Expect the processing time for the EAD to be at least two to three months.

How long may I work? J-2 dependents with employment authorization may work until the date on the EAD card or until the J-1 principal visitor completes his or her program, whichever is earlier. J-2 dependents may apply to renew work authorization, as long as the J-1 visitor remains in status. If the J-1 receives an extension of stay, the J-2 dependent must re-apply for work authorization once the extension has been granted. We recommend that applications for extensions of the EAD be made at least 3 months in advance of the expiration date on the card.

May I still work if the status of the J-1 ends? If the J-1 visitor discontinues the program at Columbia or changes to another visa category, the work authorization for the J-2 dependent will be withdrawn. Legal work authorization for J-2 dependents is always dependent on the status of the J-1 principal.

How do I apply? A complete application must include all of the following:

  1. A completed I-765 form.

  2. A bank check or money order for $380 made payable to "Department of Homeland Security" by:

    • a certified bank check
    • a money order (please note:a money order is more difficult to track than a check)
    • a personal check issued from a bank with branches in the U.S.

  3. A photocopy of both sides of the J-1's I-94 card and J-2 dependent's I-94 card.
    If you arrived in the U.S. on or after May 1, 2013, your I-94 card was issued electronically and must be printed from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) website at http://www.cbp.gov/I94.

  4. A photocopy of the information page of the J-2's passport showing photo and expiration date.

  5. Photocopies of ALL DS-2019 or IAP-66 documents issued to the J-1 exchange visitor and J-2 dependent.

  6. Two recent photos of yourself. The USCIS requires that the photos meet the specifications for the full frontal/passport type of photos and not be more than 30 days old when the applications is filed. For more information on photo standards, visit the Department of State website. We recommend that you write your name on the back of each picture in pencil or felt pen. Passport photos can be taken at The UPS Store, 603 West 115th Street (just west of Broadway, same building as Morton Williams supermarket).

  7. A brief letter addressed to USCIS stating the request for work authorization. It is important that the letter clearly state that the income received from employment is not needed to financially support either the J-1 visitor or the J-2 dependents. The letter should state that work authorization is being sought for other purposes. Some examples would be the wish to gain work experience, for purposes of career advancement, or for cultural enrichment.

  8. If re-applying for authorization, include a photocopy of any previous EAD card.

If you would like to ensure your application and forms are complete, an ISSO adviser can review your application materials and answer any questions you may have. The review is optional. All applications must be filed at the USCIS Dallas or USCIS Phoenix Lockbox facilities. Students who list a mailing address on the I-765 in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, or Pennsylvania must send the completed application by courier service or CERTIFIED MAIL with a return receipt to:

U.S. Postal Service (USPS) only

Courier service (FedEx or UPS)

PO Box 660867 Attn: AOS
Dallas, TX 75266 2501 S. State Hwy. 121, Business Suite 400
  Lewisville, TX 75067

If you use a mailing address in another state, please refer to page 10 of the I-765 instructions to find out where to file your application.

Guide to Filling Out the I-765 Application for Employment Authorization

We strongly recommend that your I-765 be submitted in paper form. Submitting the I-765 as an online web-based form requires submission of biometrics after your application has been received by USCIS.

#3   Address. Provide a U.S. address where you are able to receive mail when the EAD card is issued (anywhere from 4-12 weeks). If you will be moving during this period, you might consider having your EAD card sent to you "care of" (C/O) a friend with a permanent address. The U.S. Postal Service will not forward the EAD card to a different address.

#9   Social Security Number. Persons in J-2 visa status are not eligible to apply for a social security number until AFTER work authorization has been approved. If this is your first time applying for work authorization, you will most likely not have a social security number. If you do not have a social security number, leave this field blank.

#10   Alien Registration Number. This will be the eleven-digit "departure" number on the I-94 card.

#14   Manner of Last Entry. The manner of last entry will be "J-2 dependent" unless you have filed to change immigration status since last entering the United States.

#15   Current Immigration Status. Current immigration status will be marked on your I-94 card. This should be "J-2."

#16   Eligibility. The eligibility category for J-2 dependents who are applying for work authorization is (c)(5). The response to Question 16 should appear as: ( c )( 5 )( ).

Make sure to sign and date the I-765 form at the bottom before you submit your application. Your signature will be scanned onto your employment authorization card.

Last Reviewed: 13 May 2013 Last modified: 13 May 2013
Columbia University International Students and Scholars Office