J-1 Visa Employment

J-1 exchange visitors are permitted to work as part of activities outlined on their Form DS-2019. Any additional work requires proper authorization before the work begins.

Exchange visitors must contact their EVS advisor, and provide the following:

  • Employment offer letter with detailed information about potential work activities
  • Letter from current UF faculty sponsor granting permission to participate in additional work

Volunteering

Volunteering is often considered employment for immigration purposes. J-1 exchange visitors may volunteer while in the U.S., but must comply with all visa regulations.

  • They can freely volunteer for charitable or philanthropic purposes, with some restrictions:
    - They cannot participate in any fundraising activities, such as selling art or food.
    - They cannot volunteer within their professional expertise under almost any circumstance (e.g., veterinarians cannot volunteer to care for animals).
  • They cannot volunteer in any other ways unless they have valid work authorization from the UF International Center and/or U.S. government.
    The work authorization is not verbal.  Exchange visitors must obtain and physically possess an updated Form DS-2019 from EVS with authorization printed in Section 5.
    - They must obtain authorization even if the volunteer activity is required by their degree or their program.
  • They must consult their EVS advisor before they begin any volunteer that may fall within their professional expertise, even for charitable purposes.
    - If they might list an activity on their resume, consult EVS.
    - If they are unsure if something qualifies, consult EVS.

If an exchange visitor violates these regulations, even accidentally, they may lose J-1 visa status or face other serious immigration penalties.

For more information, please contact EVS.

J-2 Visa Employment

J-2 exchange visitors are permitted to work if they obtain proper authorization. Authorization must be received before the work begins.

To be eligible for work in the U.S., J-2 dependents are required to do the following:

  • Apply for and obtain an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) from USCIS.
  • Work only during the time the EAD authorization is active, and only once they physically possess the EAD card.
  • Reapply to renew EAD each year.
    - Applications can be submitted up to 120 days prior to the current EAD expiration date.
    - EAD authorization is typically given for 1 year, or the remaining duration of the J-1 program, whichever is shorter.
  • Cease work if the EAD expires; the J-1 program ends; or the J-1 or J-2 exchange visitor’s visa status changes or ends.

NOTE: J-2 dependents cannot seek employment to financially support the J-1 exchange visitor or any J-2 dependents. A J-2 dependent’s income cannot be a financial necessity for the family to live in the U.S.

Volunteering

Volunteering is often considered employment for immigration purposes. J-2 dependents may volunteer while in the U.S., but must comply with all visa regulations.

  • They can freely volunteer for charitable or philanthropic purposes.
    - They cannot participate in any fundraising activities, such as selling art or food, unless they have valid work authorization from the U.S. government.
    - They must obtain and physically possess authorization before starting any activity.
  • They cannot volunteer in any other ways unless they have valid work authorization from EVS and/or U.S. government.
    The work authorization is not verbal.  They must obtain and physically possess the approved, valid EAD before you start any activity:

If an exchange visitor violate these regulations, even accidentally, they may lose J-2 visa status or face other serious immigration penalties.

For more information, please contact EVS.

J-2 EAD Application Process

J-2 dependents who want to apply for work authorization must do the following:

  • Complete the Form I-765.
    - The eligibility code for J-2 EAD designations is: first box: (c), second box: 5, third box: blank.
    - Complete the form, then sign in the space provided.
  •  Create a brief letter requesting work authorization.
    - Follow this example letter format.
    - By signing the letter, the J-2 applicant is confirming all information is accurate and true.
  • Prepare a cashier’s check or money order for the application processing fee.
    - The cashier’s check or money order must be payable to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
    - This fee is currently $410.00 USD, and is non-refundable.
  • Gather the following additional documents:
    - Copy of Form DS-2019 for J-2 applicant and J-1 exchange visitor
    - Copy of current J visa for J-2 applicant and J-1 exchange visitor. Copy of USCIS change-of-status approval notice (only if current J status was obtained through an in-country change-of-status)
    - Copy of current passport of J-2 applicant and J-1 exchange visitor
    - Copy of most recent I-94 record for J-2 applicant and J-1 exchange visitor
    - Copy of any previous EAD cards (front and back; if applicable)
    Proof of marriage (copy must be in English; if applicable)
    - Two (2) passport-regulation photos taken within the last six (6) months
    • Print the J-2 applicant’s full name and most recent I-94 number in pencil on the back of each photo.
    • Place both photos in a small envelope labeled “photos.”
    • EVS does not recommend using current passport or visa photos, even if they are recent.

Once a J-2 applicant has prepared all of the above documents, they must mail them to USCIS through the U.S. Postal Service via certified mail. This will allow applicants to track their shipment and verify delivery.

Once USCIS receives the EAD application packet, it will mail a receipt (I-797C – Notice of Action). This receipt will confirm the date the EAD application packet and payment were received, and contain a receipt number. It is typically sent within two (2) weeks of the packet delivery.

Applicants can track their application progress online using their I-797C receipt number.

NOTE: If an applicant changes their U.S. address between submitting their application and receiving a decision from USCIS, they must update it online here.

Applicants can apply for a Social Security Card with their EAD application. The Social Security Card usually arrives in the mail a few weeks after the EAD arrives.

For more information, please contact EVS.