According to the Department of State (DOS), the purpose of the J-1 Exchange Program is to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States (US) and the people of other countries by means of educational and cultural exchanges.

The exchange of visiting scholars promotes interchange, mutual enrichment, and linkages between research and educational institutions in US and foreign countries. Participants in this program will enter the US with a J-1 visa, identified as “exchange visitors.”

General Information

  • J-1 Categories
  • J-1 visiting scholar appointments at the University of Pennsylvania fall into one of the following categories:

    • Professor: a professor is an individual teaching, lecturing, observing, or consulting.  A professor may also conduct research, unless disallowed by the sponsor.

      • Minimum stay of three weeks required 
      • Maximum stay of five years
    • Research Scholar: a research scholar is an individual conducting research, observing, or consulting in connection with a research project.  A research scholar may also teach or lecture, unless disallowed by the sponsor.

      • Minimum stay of three weeks required
      • Maximum stay of five years 
    • Short-term Scholar: a short-term scholar is an individual coming to the U.S. for a period of up to six months to lecture, observe, consult, and participate in seminars, workshops, conferences, study tours, professional meetings, or similar types of educational and professional activities.  

      • No minimum stay required
      • Maximum stay of six months (NOTE: no extensions beyond six months under any circumstances)
    • Specialist: a specialist is a world-renown expert in a field of specialized knowledge or skill coming to the U.S. to demonstrate his/her special knowledge/skills, observe or consult. 

      • Minimum stay of three weeks required
      • Maximum stay of twelve months
  • Appointment at Penn
    • J-1 scholar status is limited to those who hold University temporary, "visiting" academic positions. It cannot be used for tenure-track faculty positions, regular faculty or support positions, administrative positions, or staff positions.
    • Be sure to check your own school's internal policy regarding appointments, positions, lengths, and restrictions (e.g. SOM's Visitng Scholar policy).  If unsure, please check with the school dean's office. 
    • Also, the J-1 program of the University of Pennsylvania may not be used for clinical appointments to the School of Dental Medicine, the School of Veterinary Medicine, or UPHS hospitals.
    • Similarly, the J-1 program of the University of Pennsylvania may not be used for foreign medical graduates (FMGs) who will be involved in clinical activities or for those receiving medical training.  FMGs who wish to participate in clinical programs of graduate medical education or training cannot be sponsored by the University's exchange visitor program. The only exchange program authorized to sponsor FMGs as J-1 exchange visitors for internships, residencies, specialized clinical training, and in other positions involving more than incidental patient contact, is the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG).
  • Bars/Limitations for J-1 Professor and Research Scholar Categories
    • Twelve-Month Bar: A foreign national is ineligible to participate in a professor/research scholar exchange program if he or she has held any J nonimmigrant status within the 12-month period immediately preceding the start of the exchange program. This Twelve-Month Bar applies to J-2 dependents as well as principal non-immigrants.  The following three exceptions exist:

      • J-1 transfers to Penn without any gap
      • Prior presence in J status in the US was of less than 6 months duration
      • Presence in J status as a Short-Term Scholar
    • 24-Month Bar (also known as the Two-Year Bar): An individual who participates in the Exchange Visitor Program as a J-1 Professor or Research Scholar becomes subject to the 24-Month Bar on "repeat participation" in those particular categories after completing his or her program even if the program lasts less than five years. DOS has taken the position that the 24-Month Bar will also apply to J-2 dependents of J-1 Professors or Research Scholars if the J-2 subsequently wishes to return as a J-1 Professor or Research Scholar.

  • Two-Year Home Country Residence Requirement
  • J-1 individuals who have received funding from their government or the US government for J-1 program participation, or whose skills are deemed to be in short supply by the home country (i.e. on the "Skills list"), are obliged to leave the US upon completion of their programs.  The two-year home country residence requirement does not, however, apply in all cases, since there are many countries that do not maintain a list of skills in short supply.

    Exchange visitors who are subject to the Two-Year Home Country Residence Requirement must "reside and be physically present" in their "home" country for an aggregate of two years before being eligible for certain immigration benefits.  For more information, click here.  

    While they are subject to the Two-Year Home Country Residence Requirement, they are ineligible for the following benefits:

    • They are not eligible to change their nonimmigrant status within the United States from J to any other nonimmigrant category except A (diplomatic) and G (international organization) statuses

    • They are not eligible for an immigrant visa or for adjustment of status to lawful permanent resident (immigrant/green card) status

    • They are not eligible for an H visa (temporary workers and dependents), or an L visa (intracompany transferees and dependents)

    In some cases, this Requirement may be waived upon recommendation of the home government or on other grounds. The final authority to grant the waiver lies with USCIS.

    Please note that once J-1/J-2 receives either a waiver approval notice (from USCIS) or a waiver recommendation (by DOS), he/she is no longer eligible for any extensions, etc. as he/she is no longer considered as a bona fide exchange visitor by DOS, which oversees the J exchange visitor program. He/she can, of course, finish his/her current exchange program until the end date listed on the current DS-2019. Thus, a J-1/J-2 should plan the timing of a waiver application carefully.

  • Two-Year Home Country Residence Requirement, 12-Month Bar, and 24-Month Bar
  •   Two-Year Home Country Residence Requirement - 212(e) 12-Month Bar 24-Month Bar
    Who it affects May affect participants and their dependents in any category of the J-1 visa including J-1 Professor, Research Scholar, Short-Term Scholar, Student, and J-2 dependents.

    J-1 scholars may be subject to the two-year home residence requirement if:
    • they received direct financial support from U.S. or their home government
    • their home country is on the Skills List that includes their profession or field of research/study
    • their J visa sponsored by ECFMG, Fulbright or other organizations.
    Prospective J-1 Research Scholars or Professors who have been in the U.S. in any J status (including J-2 status) except Short-Term Scholar for six months or more in the 12-month period immediately prior to the proposed start date of the new J-1 Research Scholar or Professor category. J-1 scholars and their J-2 dependents in the Research Scholar or Professor Category who have ended their previous programs and now seek to return in the J-1 Research Scholar or Professor Category.
    What is prohibited J visa holder is not eligible for H, L, K or immigrant (permanent resident) visa and cannot apply for change of nonimmigrant status to any visa status within the U.S. Prospective J-1 Research Scholar or Professor is not eligible to begin a new period of J visa sponsorship for a period of 12 months (one year) after completion of any previous J program (except for Short-Term Scholar category). Scholar who has completed a program as a J-1 Research Scholar or Professor may not return to the U.S. in J-1 Research Scholar or Professor Category for 24 months (two years).
    What is not prohibited Scholars may be permitted to depart and return to the U.S. in other nonimmigrant classifications, such as F-1 student, B-1/B-2 visitor, O-1 or TN prior to satisfying or waiving 212(e); may also return in another J-1 classification, if no bar applies. This bar does not prohibit entry to the
    U.S. in any other immigration categories.
    This bar does not prohibit entry to the
    U.S. in any other immigration categories.

Application & Process Information

  • Minimum Funding Requirements
  • Funding for J-1 Scholars (except post docs)
    • Effective September 1, 2014, a minimum of $26,425 per year or $2,202 per month is required to support a J-1 scholar at Penn.  If submitted before September 1, 2014, a minimum of $25,400 per year is required.
    • An additional $6,000 a year is required for an accompanying spouse ($500/month) and an additional $4,000 a year for each accompanying child ($334/month).
    All post docs
    • Must follow the NRSA levels (2014 -
      • The Office of the Vice Provost for Research, in consultation with the Provost Council on Research, is responsible for setting minimum stipend levels for postdocs across the University. The University has adopted the National Research Service Awards stipend scale for all postdocs.

    These funds may come from Penn, an outside organization, or the individual may be supported by his or her own resources.

    Immigration regulations require proof of sufficient supporting funds before an immigration document can be issued. The funding document must have been issued within the past 12 months.  If the funding document is not in English, it should be translated.

  • Bachelor’s Degree Requirement
    • All J-1 scholars at Penn are required to have at least a bachelor’s degree in a directly related field and have demonstrated relevant experience in their field of expertise.

  • Special Documentation for Scholars with Non-Penn Site of Activity
  • In general, all J-1 scholars will conduct their activities at Penn. In rare situations, the J-1 activity might occur at a non-Penn site under the  full, day-to-day supervision of a regular full-time Penn faculty member.  In such cases, attach a letter from the Chair of the hosting department that includes the following:

    • Dates of visit

    • Nature of activities

    • Site(s) of activity, including full address

    • How the J-1 activity will be a continuation of the Penn department’s on-going research projects/programs (note: while at a non-Penn site, the J-1 must only conduct Penn's research)

    • Official relationship between the Penn department and the non-Penn site of activity

    • Name and title of full-time Penn faculty or PI who will supervise the J-1 program activity throughout the J-1 scholar’s stay in the US

    • Funding arrangements at the non-Penn site (e.g. additional funding, new funding source, etc.)

  • Special Documentation for Foreign Physicians
  • Penn departments that sponsor foreign medical graduates (FMG) to participate in non-clinical exchange programs, either with no patient care or where patient contact is incidental to the physician's primary activity of teaching, research, consultation, or observation, must append a letter to the J-1 Request Packet.

    The letter, addressed "to whom it may concern" and signed by the dean of the School of Medicine or School of Dental Medicine, or the departmental chair, should be presented by the FMG along with the DS-2019 at the US consulate when applying for a visa to enter the United States.  

    No Patient Care

    If no patient care is involved in the J-1 scholar’s duties, the letter must state, verbatim:

    "This certifies that the program in which [name of the J-1 scholar] is to be engaged is solely for the purpose of observation, consultation, teaching, or research and that no element of patient care services is involved."

    Incidental Patient Contact

    If incidental patient care is involved in the J-1 scholar’s duties, the letter must state, verbatim:

    • The program in which [name] will participate is predominately involved with observation, consultation, teaching, or research.

    • Any incidental patient contact involving [name] will be under the direct supervision of a physician who is a US citizen or resident alien and who is licensed to practice medicine in Pennsylvania.

    • [Name] will not be given final responsibility for the diagnosis and treatment of patients.

    • Any activities of [name] will conform fully with licensing requirements and regulations for medical and health care professionals in Pennsylvania.

    • Any experience gained in this program will not be creditable toward any clinical requirements for medical specialty board certification.

    FMGs who wish to participate in clinical programs of graduate medical education or training cannot be sponsored by the University's exchange visitor program. The only exchange program authorized to sponsor FMGs as J-1 exchange visitors for internships, residencies, specialized clinical training, and in other positions involving more than incidental patient contact, is the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG).

  • Payment of SEVIS Fee
    • A scholar must have proof that they have paid this fee to the US government prior to visiting a US consulate to apply for their J-1 visa to enter the US. 
    • Citizens of Canada and Bermuda do not need visas to enter the US, but they must have proof of payment of the SEVIS fee (that can be printed from the fee website) when they enter the US in J-1 status for the first time.
    • If they are already in the US and will apply for a change of status to J-1, they must also pay the SEVIS fee before submitting their change of status application to USCIS.
    • A scholar or academic department may use a major credit card (Visa, MasterCard, or American Express, issued in any country to anyone) and access to the internet can pay the SEVIS fee online and print out a confirmation that you can use as proof of payment. 
    • To pay the SEVIS fee online go to  For “Program Number” enter the University of Pennsylvania’s # P-1-00183. To pay buy mail, please see the SEVIS fee website for instructions.
  • Hosting Department Responsibilities
  • The hosting department must consider the following responsibilities and criteria of the J-1 before appointing a scholar in J-1 status:

     The exchange visitor may only perform duties limited to the pre-established educational objectives as stated on the DS-2019 form. Any additional employment must be incidental to the visitor's primary program activities, must be directly related to his or her original objectives, and must be authorized in writing by ISSS in advance.

    • Be aware of the ISSS Application Deadlines: The hosting department should submit the request to ISSS 3-4 months in advance, but no later than 6 weeks in advance.

    • Departments must ascertain that the international scholar has appropriate academic credentials (including English language proficiency) to be appointed to and benefit from his/her J-1 stay at the University.

    • The scholar and any accompanying dependents must have adequate financial support and health insurance coverage to be eligible for J-1 status.

    •  The intent of the appointment/affiliation with the University must be temporary, and the visitor must plan to return home upon completion of the educational objective.

    •  The exchange visitor must be in valid J-1 status and on Penn's sponsorship before he or she can commence appointment and receive any payment or compensation.

    • An exchange visitor may not change departments within the University without first obtaining approval from ISSS. See guidelines below for transfer of departments.

    •  Reinstatement to legal status will rarely, if ever, be granted in the US to scholars who lose their status. The scholar must return home with no guarantee of being issued a visa to return.

    • J-1 scholars must always be in possession of a valid I-94 card (if issued paper I-94) or US entry/admission stamp in passport (if issued electronic I-94).  Refer to the automated I-94 process at

      • and a current DS-2019 which accurately reflects their purpose for being at Penn.

    • Departments should immediately notify ISSS of terminations or departures of exchange visitors.

    The primary advantages of the J-1 status are that it can be obtained relatively easily and quickly, and that it usually allows the spouse and dependents holding J-2 status to work while in the US.

    Scholars who are unsure of their future plans with respect to employment at Penn or in the US, and who would be subject to the two-year home country residence requirement would do well to consider alternative immigration classifications.
    Form DS-2019 is the document required for a scholar to obtain a J-1 visa. This form is issued by ISSS upon receipt and review of the J-1 Request Packet submitted by the hosting department.
    Plans to invite a J-1 scholar should begin three to four months in advance of the start date of the appointment to allow for case review, document preparation, mailing immigration documents, and visa processing. In some cases, scholar may experience significant delays in visa processing abroad due to possible US government security clearances.  

    If the J-1 scholar is outside of the US, the department should send the form DS-2019 to the scholar via airmail. The scholar will then take the DS-2019 to the US Embassy or consulate to get their entry visa.

    If the J-1 scholar is in the US under the sponsorship of another J-1 program and wishes to transfer their J-1 status to Penn, the hosting department should submit a J-1 Request Packet to ISSS at least 4-6 weeks before the scholar’s current J-1 status expires. 

    If the scholar is in the US in another immigration status, the hosting department should consult ISSS as it could take months to change status to J-1 within the US.

  • J-1 Scholar Application Instructions for eform
    • Request access to iPenn.  The same authorization gives you access to submit H-1B and J-1 Scholar applications.  If you are a new BA or have not been authorized for H-1B eform, please complete the authorization form and contact for requisite training.

    After attending training, you will receive an email with detailed instructions, summarized here:

    • Log into Your iPenn Case List at this page
    • Choose "Add New Case" to add the person to Your iPenn Case List.
    • Click the person's name in Your iPenn Case List, then select "J-1 Scholar Application"
    • After you complete the first portion of (2) J-1 Scholar Data Form, an email will be sent to the scholar with instructions to complete their part of the form within 3 days.  The scholar will also have instructions to submit J-2 Dependent Request and J-1 Scholar Transfer Request if applicable.
    • In order to complete the (3) J-1 Scholar Department Confirmation Form, please print and upload the required form(s) including the J-1 Scholar Deparment Confirmation Form, signed by the department chair to confirm the J-1 Scholar request.
    • You will be able to complete the final form (4) Penn Internal Processing Fee for J-1 Scholar only after all other forms are completed.
    • There is no need to submit paper documents as all documents are uploaded in PDF format.  You will receive email in case of any questions or when the DS-2019 is ready for pickup at ISSS.  The normal processing time is approximately 3 weeks.
    • If you have to submit payment by check instead of providing budget code, you can complete the required eform online and send in a paper check by mail or carrier.  The DS-2019 process won't start until the day we receive your check.

Arrival & Orientation

  • J-1 New Scholar Orientation/ SEVIS Registration Upon Arrival at Penn
    • All J-1 scholars are required to attend New Scholar Orientation/SEVIS registration session at ISSS. Sessions are held weekly, on Mondays and Fridays at 10:30am. The sessions are usually one hour long, and we ask that the scholars arrive promptly on time.
    • Failure to attend the New Scholar Orientation session within 20 calendar days of the program start date on Form DS-2019 will cause the scholar’s program to be automatically terminated, jeopardizing their legal status in the US.
    • Please notify ISSS via email ( if the J-1 scholar plans to arrive later than expected so that ISSS may defer the program start date on the DS-2019 to avoid SEVIS auto-termination.

Maintenance of J-1 Status

  • Maintaining Legal Status
  • The J-1 scholar must take care during his/her stay in the US to maintain lawful J-1 status, as failure to do so can have serious short-term and long-term consequences.

    Fortunately, there are some simple steps the J-1 scholar can take to ensure that the stay in the US remains valid:

    • Following the J-1 scholar’s initial entry to the US, he/she should attend New Scholar Orientation (Mondays and Fridays at 10:30am) at ISSS within 20 calendar days of the program start date of Form DS-2019.

    • Be aware of the DS-2019 expiration date. This is not the J-1 visa (sticker) expiration date. If the J-1 scholar’s appointment at Penn is being extended, the hosting department must contact ISSS to have the DS-2019 form extended at least six weeks prior to the current DS-2019 end date.

    • Keep the passport valid. Passports can be renewed by the J-1 scholar’s home country consulate in New York or Philadelphia or by the embassy in Washington, DC. The DOS maintains a complete list of Foreign Embassies in the US.

    • Make sure the J-1 I-94 card (if issued paper I-94) or US entry/admission stamp in passport (if issued electronic I-94).  is always marked “J-1” and “D/S.” It is much harder to correct errors once you leave the immigration inspection site (e.g. airport).  If there are any errors by an immigration officer, immediately meet with an ISSS advisor.

    • Do not accept unauthorized employment. The only activity the J-1 scholar is permitted to do is the one described in section 4 of the DS-2019 form at the pre-determined site(s) of activity in SEVIS.  If you are unclear about your approved activity and site(s) of J-1 activity, contact ISSS. The J-1 scholar must consult an ISSS advisor in advance if he/she wishes to take up any other work during the stay. See the section on occasional lectures and consultations below for more information.

    • If offered a comparable position at another college or university, discuss plans with an ISSS advisor in advance to make sure that the required J-1 transfer procedure can be accomplished. See information on the transfer of J-1 sponsorship below.

    • Comply with DOS federal health insurance requirements for J-1 scholars and their families. See the health insurance requirements below. Willful disregard of these requirements will result in termination of the J-1 program and his/her legal J-1 status in the US.

    • Report any address change to ISSS.  The J-1 scholars are required to report change of address to DHS within 10 days of the change; however, because the J-1 scholars are entered into the SEVIS system, he/she should inform the address change to ISSS to update it in SEVIS.

  • Health Insurance Requirements
  • Unlike any other immigration categories, DOS federally mandates all J-1 and J-2 status holders to carry adequate health insurance coverage. The J-1 scholar must purchase insurance for him/herself and his/her J-2 dependents immediately upon arrival in the US.

    If the J-1 scholar and/or dependents fail to maintain the mandatory health insurance coverage, they will be in violation of federal immigration regulations; will be subject to termination as a participant; and must leave the US immediately.

    DOS required Insurance coverage must meet the following:

    • Medical insurance must cover the entire period of participation in the Exchange Visitor program.

    • Medical benefits must provide a minimum of $50,000 per accident or illness.

    • Medical evacuation must be covered in the amount of $10,000, minimum. (Medical evacuation is emergency medical transportation to the home country.)

    • Repatriation must be covered in the amount of $7,500, minimum (In the unfortunate event of death, repatriation is the transportation of remains back to the home country.)

    • The deductible must not exceed $500 per accident or illness.

    The University’s employee health insurance plan coverage varies, so check for specific coverage.  If the J-1/J-2 is covered under the Penn's postdoc insurance plan, s/he meets the DOS insurance coverage requirements.  Some of Penn’s employee health insurance plans do not cover repatriation and medical evacuation. Thus, the J-1/J-2 should purchase supplemental insurance to cover repatriation and medical evacuation.  Failure to secure or maintain adequate health insurance will result in termination of the J-1 program participation.

    It is J-1 scholar's responsibility to purchase and maintain the DOS required health insurance coverage.

  • Occasional Lectures and Consultations
  • Professors and Research Scholars may give occasional lectures and short-term consultations incidental to their primary activities, if approved by ISSS in advance.

    To work for any organization other than Penn in the position described on your DS-2019 form, the J-1 scholar must first obtain approval in writing in advance from his/her J-1 Responsible/Alternate Responsible Officer (RO/ARO), who represents your J-1 sponsor and issues Form DS-2019.

    The RO/ARO must evaluate the proposed occasional lectures or consultations in terms of the J-1 scholar’s program objectives, and then decide whether or not it would be appropriate. For most J-1 scholars at Penn, the University is his/her sponsor and his/her J-1 RO/ARO is one of ISSS advisors.  

    If the J-1 scholar is being sponsored by an agency (e.g. IIE), and if uncertain how to reach the appropriate RO/ARO, an ISSS adviser will help finding out, but Penn RO/ARO has no authority to grant permission to accept an occasional lecture or consultation opportunity.

    J-1 Scholar Occasional Lectures or Consultations Recommendation & Request


    The term occasional embodies the concept of single events rather than an ongoing activity. To ensure that "occasional lectures or short-term consultations" do not interfere with and are in keeping with the activities of your J-1 program, they:

    • must be directly related to the objectives of your Exchange Visitor program;

    • must be incidental to your primary program activities; and

    • must not delay the completion of your Exchange Visitor program

    If such activities will involve wages or other remuneration, he/she will be working not as an employee but as an independent contractor, meaning that the J-1 will not have an employer-employee relationship with the person or institution paying the J-1 scholar, and will not complete Form I-9, “Employment Eligibility Verification,” in order to start work.

  • Extension of J-1 Sponsorship
  • If the hosting department wishes to extend the J-1 scholar’s appointment/affiliation with the University, they must complete the J-1 Scholar Application eform and submit it to ISSS via iPenn at least six weeks before the current J-1 status expires (date as noted in section 3 of Form DS-2019).

    Keep in mind that the same criteria required for the initial appointment must be maintained or met in order to extend the appointment.

  • Transfer of J-1 Sponsorship
    • If the J-1 scholar wishes to transfer from one J-1 sponsor to another, he/she must seek clearance from the original/current program sponsor. Once the program sponsor (i.e. ISSS for Penn) has transferred the J-1 scholar's SEVIS record and the new institution has produced a DS-2019, the J-1 scholar is then considered under the sponsorship of the new program.
    • The scholar may not take up appointment with the new program until the transfer process has been successfully completed. The transfer of J-1 program sponsorship must be completed prior to the individual's termination from the previous J-1 program and before the current DS-2019 form expires.  For scholars transferring to the University of Pennsylvania, the hosting departments should complete the J-1 Request Packet including the Transfer-In Request form for J-1 scholars. Please note that time spent in a previous program(s) prior to the transfer will be counted toward the maximum stay allowed.
  • Transfer Departments (or Labs) within Penn
  • Scholars who wish to change departments must document that the change does not constitute a new "activity" (e.g., a different area or field of research) on their part. Such documentation consists of a letter from both the current and prospective supervisors, which contains the following information:

    • A letter from the scholar's current supervisor; describing in detail the present duties of the scholar and proposing that the scholar continue to enhance his/her career through the new appointment. The present supervisor should demonstrate awareness of the nature of the new appointment, which should be related to the job function of the existing appointment.

    • A letter from the prospective supervisor; noting the duration of the new position, describing in detail the duties the scholar will be performing, and stating that these are related to the research area or specialization of the scholar. The new supervisor should demonstrate awareness of the previous duties of the scholar.

    Upon receipt of these letters and J-1 Request Packet (eform) ISSS will prepare a DS-2019 form to reflect the new position.

  • After Completion of J-1 Stay
  • Scholars and J-2 dependents will be afforded a 30-day grace period to leave the US from the program end date or the DS-2019 end date, whichever is earlier.  Please advise that the J-1/J-2 may not leave the US during the grace period and re-enter as J-1/J-2 using Form DS-2019.  The grace period cannot be used to work in the US.

J-2 Dependents

  • J-2 Dependent Status
    • The spouse and unmarried minor children (under 21 years of age) of the J-1 scholar are eligible for J-2 dependent status.
    • Each J-2 dependent must be in possession of own DS-2019.
      • When completing the J-1 Exchange Visitor Data Form provided by the J-1 scholar's hosting department, the J-1 scholar should fill in the section requesting information on any dependents accompanying him/her to the US.
      • When requesting a dependent DS-2019 after the student or scholar is in the US in J-1 status, he/she needs to submit the Request for Dependent I-20 or DS-2019 form with the appropriate financial funding information.
    • Once the dependent has the DS-2019 Form, he/she must either.
      • Apply for an J-2 visa stamp at the US Consulate overseas (except Canadian citizens). Gain J-2 status through entry to the US by presenting their dependent DS-2019 Form, passport and J-2 visa stamp (accompanied by any supporting documents) at the US Port of Entry; or
      • Apply for a Change of Status within the US (please meet with an ISSS advisor for further details)
    • J-2 dependents are eligible to apply for employment authorization (EAD) from the USCIS as long as the employment is not for the purpose of supporting the J-1 scholar.
      • See "J-2 Work Permission" below for more information.
    • The Department of State federally mandates all J-1 and J-2 status holders to carry adequate health insurance coverage.
      • Failure to secure or maintain adequate health insurance will result in termination of the J program participation.
    • J-2 dependents are eligible to apply for employment authorization from the USCIS as long as the employment is not for the purpose of supporting the J-1 scholar.
      • See "J-2 Work Permission" below for more information.
    • The Department of State federally mandates all J-1 and J-2 status holders to carry adequate health insurance coverage.
      • Failure to secure or maintain adequate health insurance will result in termination of the J program participation.
    • J-2 dependents may study in the US, as long as their primary purpose in the U.S. is to accompany the J-1 status holder. However, the duration of their study depends on the J-1’s period of stay.
    • If the J-1 scholar is eligible and applies for an extension of stay, the dependent's period of stay will automatically be extended.
    • A child may not continue to hold J-2 status upon reaching his or her 21st birthday.
  • J-2 Work Permission
  • J-2 non-immigrants (the spouses and children of J-1s) may apply to the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for permission to work in the United States. Title 8, Code of Federal Regulations, part 214.2(j)(1(v) states:

    "Income from the spouse's or dependent's employment may be used to support the family's customary recreational and cultural activities and related travel, among other things. Employment will not be authorized if this income is needed to support the J-1 principal alien."

    • All applications for the Employment Authorization Document (EAD), including applications for J-2 employment authorization, must be submitted to USCIS.
    • The USCIS can take 2 to 3 months to process the EAD.  J-2’s work may begin only after the J-2 has received an EADl card and during the EAD validity period
    • J-2 holders can only apply for J-2 work permission after they have entered the US in J-2 status or have successfully changed their visa status to J-2 within the US. 
    • They are valid for any kind of full-time or part-time employment for the period stated on the card as long as the J-1 is maintaining status.
    • To apply for an EAD extension, follow the same instructions below. Processing time for renewals is also 2 to 3 months.
    Application Materials

    To apply for J-2 work permission, you need the following:

    • Completed USCIS Form I-765 with “(c) (5) ( )” noted in section 16.
    • Copies of both J-1’s and J-2's
      • I-94 (front and back if issued paper I-94) or US entry/admission stamp in passport  (if issued electronic I-94) 
        Refer to the automated I-94 process at
      • the visa used for last entry into the U.S. (except for citizens of Canada and Bermuda)
      • DS-2019 Forms
      • Copies of the identification pages of both passports, including the photo page
    • I-765  Application Fee, payable to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security
    • Two identical color passport style photographs. Immigration regulations require that your head be uncovered unless you wear a headdress for religious reasons.  Print your name lightly in pencil on the back of the photos.
    • If you have applied for an EAD before, copies of your previous EAD card(s) - front and back
    • A letter stating why income is necessary. See the sample cover letter below.
    • To send your application, see the Mailing Instructions below.

    Social Security and Taxes

    Anyone who earns money in the United States must have a social security number for taxpayer identification purposes. You may apply for a social security number only after you have received your EAD card. J-2 visa holders are subject to social security taxes, federal income taxes and, where applicable, state and local income taxes.

    Sample J-2 Cover Letter

    [Your address]


    [refer to the address under Mailing Instructions]

    Dear Sir or Madam:

    With this letter, I am applying for employment authorization on the basis of my J-2 status. I am the dependent [husband or wife] of [name], a J-1 [student or scholar] at the University of Pennsylvania.

    I want to work because [reason for employment]. (Please remember that income from employment is to be used to support the family's customary recreational, educational and cultural activities and related travel.)

    I declare that the money I earn will be used for cultural, recreational, and related travel activities and will not be used to support the J-1.

    [J-2 signature]
    [J-2 name]

    Mailing Instructions
    • Before mailing, make a photocopy of the completed application for your records.
    • Staple the check and envelope with photos to the form I-765 and place on top. Mail the application to the USCIS Service Center which has jurisdiction over the address you listed on the I-765 in item 3.
    • Pennsylvania or New Jersey addresses use the USCIS “Dallas Lockbox” filing location:

      U.S. Postal Service deliveries:
      P.O. Box 660867
      Dallas, TX 75266

      Express mail and courier deliveries:
      Attn: AOS
      2501 S. State Highway 121 Business
      Suite 400
      Lewisville, TX 75067

    • People filing at the lockbox can sign up to receive an email and/or text message confirming that the application was accepted by adding Form G-1145 as the first page of the EAD application.
    • We strongly recommend you mail your application by express mail or by “Certified Mail Return Receipt” so that you will have a record of its delivery.
  • Occasional Lectures or Consultations by J-1 Scholars
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