What Is a J-2 Visa?
A J-2 visa is a non-immigrant visa that’s issued to spouses and dependents (unmarried children under the age of 21) of J-1 visa holders to enter the United States. Unlike other types of visas, there is no cap on how many people can receive a J-2 visa.
What Are the J-2 Visa Requirements?
To be eligible for a J-2 visa, you must be:
- The spouse of a J-1 visa holder, or
- An unmarried child (under the age of 21) of a J-1 visa holder
- Allowed to accompany the J-1 visa holder from their program or sponsor
Eligibility to accompany the J-1 visa holder will be dependent on their specific program or sponsor organization. Some exchange categories don’t permit J-2 visas. This includes au pair, camp counselors, student, and summer work travel. It’s also important to note that if you aren’t married to your J-1 partner or have proof of your marriage, you won’t qualify for a J-2 visa.
How Long is a J-2 Visa Good For?
Typically, the USCIS authorizes J-2 employment for one year. However, since you’re considered the J-1 visa holder’s dependent, your J-2 visa is directly connected to theirs; your J-2 visa will be valid as long as the J-1 visa is valid. For example, if your spouse’s J-1 visa is good for 2 years, your J-2 visa will be good for 2 years as well. If your J-1 spouse applies for an extension of their visa, and it gets approved, you’ll also be eligible to apply for an extension on your visa.
Most J-1 visas have a two-year residency requirement that requires the visa holder to return to their home country for at least two years after their exchange program before they can change status in the U.S., become permanent residents, or receive work or family-based visa status. If your J-1 visa holder spouse or parent has this requirement, it applies to your J-2 visa as well. If you’d like to change your status to another type of visa, it will only be possible if you don’t have the two-year residency requirement or you find and apply for a job that makes you eligible for another type of visa.
If the J-1 spouse or parent receives a green card, their J-2 dependent may will receive one too depending upon the type of filing. However, J-2 visa holders can also apply for a green card themselves based on employment or family reasons.
Can J-2 Visa Holders Work in the US?
Valid J-2 dependents may request a work permit from USCIS by submitting an application. To qualify, they must have a valid J-2 status; the J-1 visa holder must have a valid J-1 status as well. The J-2 visa holder’s income cannot be used to support the J-1 spouse or parent.
If the application is approved, the J-2 visa holder will be issued an Employment Authorization Document (EAD), which authorizes them to be employed for up to a year. A J-2 visa work permit allows J-2 dependents to work part-time or full-time at any job, however, employment can’t last beyond the end date listed on the EAD. There’s no limit to the amount J-2 holders can earn.
J-2 visa holders can potentially extend their EAD by submitting an additional application each year before their J-2 status ends. The extension process typically takes an average of 3-5 months, so it’s best to plan ahead if you need continuous employment.
Can J-2 Visa Holders Travel?
J-2 visa holders are allowed to travel freely in the U.S. and internationally without their families. However, they can’t enter the U.S. for the first time before the J-1 visa holder does. If you plan to travel abroad, it’s important to carry your document and proof of immigration status if you intend to re-enter the U.S.
If the J-1 visa holder applies for a waiver, you won’t need to do anything; your visa will automatically be linked to the J-1 waiver. If the waiver is approved, it will apply to you as well. There are some circumstances where you may submit a J-2 waiver. These include:
- If the J-1 visa holder dies and you have a valid death certificate
If you and the J-1 visa holder get a divorce and you can provide documentation regarding the divorce
- If you’ve turned 21 and you’re the child of a J-1 parent and can provide a valid birth certificate
- In addition, you’ll also need to explain why you’re applying for the J-2 waiver without the J-1 person and the reasons why you believe you should be approved for one.
Get Assistance with Your J-2 Waiver
If you or a family member would like assistance with a J-2 visa, applying for a J2 work permit, or a J-2 waiver, the experienced team at Ranchod Law Group is here to help. To schedule a consultation, please contact us at 916-613-3553 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.