How I Applied For A US Work Permit While On A J-2 Visa

US work permit J-2 visa

DISCLAIMER: I am not an immigration lawyer and this blog post does not provide legal advice.

There are not that many things in life that stress me out. Unfortunately, having to deal with any country administration is on that list. Especially as I needed to apply for a US work permit to go along with my J-2 visa.

I moved to the US in may 2019 on a J2 visa. It is the dependent visa to a J-1. Which my husband has. He was in the US since February 2019 when I arrived. The transition from the UK to the US was fairly smooth.

The only thing I had to do was apply for my J-2 visa. Because my husband already had a flat and everything sorted. That was a fast and fairly stress-free process.

Working on a J-2 Visa

One that was not however, was applying for a US work permit. Because, yes, my J-2 is a dependent visa. It means that I am a dependent of my husband on his J-1 visa.

It means that his income should provide for the both  of us. Which is does. And that my income will not be used to support him. Being a J-2 dependent  did not mean I did not want to work. Because, as it turns out, I do quite like to work.

But my J-2 did not come with permission to work. So that was an extra thing I had to do. Which I could not done as long as I was not on US soil (apparently).

The problem is, or can be, that it takes at least 90 days after your application is received to get your work permit. Should it have been approved of course. This means that for the first three to four months of my visit to the US, I was not be able to work.

Instead, I became a Booktuber. 

But then, I was reading so many books each month… I needed to finance this new hobby. Yes, all my money goes into books.

N.B.: The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin is A-MA-ZING!

What was I talking about? Oh, yes, my EAD application!

I manage to apply just fine. However, I realized that there was not that many information from people who had to go through the application process.

Yes, you will fine plenty of legal websites to help you.

Yet, it is not the same as reading from someone who went through the work permit or EAD application process themselves. Which is something I quite missed. I would have liked to have a little guide from someone who did do it.

So here I come.

DISCLAIMER 2: Again, this blog post DOES NOT provide legal advice. It it the steps I took to get my employment authorization document (or EAD). Plus, some comments on my experience.

Work permit application on a J-2 visa

If I am on a J-2, I am the dependent to a J-1 visa. That is it, that is the tea.

As mentioned earlier, my visa did not come with the authorization to work. I needed to apply for it. Good news is, as I was on a J2, I was eligible.

As a J2, the document I applied for is called an EAD. It is an employment authorization document. Upon commencing employment, I had to show the card to my employer.

Where do I apply?

I applied on completely on my own. So it is possible. The first thing I did was to go to the USCIS website. They are the ones in charge of all immigration related matters (I think) and where you apply for your work permit.

N.B. 2: I find their website extremely confusing.

Was form did I use?

The form I used to apply for my work permit is called form I-765. It is the same form for both initial application and renewal. I had to fill in my name, contact information, and information about why I am eligible.

Some websites say the form is super simple to fill. I do not think so personally. I can’t tell how many time I went over it just to make sure I had ticked the right box or filled the right case.

Some questions are a bit tricky. Or at least I find it so. For example, question 22 asked about my last entry to the U.S.. Question 27 asked about my eligibility category. As a J-2 spouse of a J-1 exchange visitor, my category was (C)(5). The USCIS website lists all eligible categories.

I know that a lot of workplaces will require that you have a social security number or SSN. As I wanted (and needed) one, I made sure to tick the right boxes on the form.

Some of the questions required answers that I found on some supporting documents for my application. Worry not, there is a checklist just below.

What supporting documents did I need?

The thing with applying for a US work permit while on a J-2 visa is that each website says something different. And I looked at many of them. The USCIS website gave me a very short list of documents I needed to attach to my application.

While browsing the web, I looked at what other websites suggested. Mostly universities who work with research scholars and phD students on J-1 visa.

N.B. 3: How do you know what to attach if everybody says something different?!

N.B. 4: It was so stressful!

Especially as one missing document could get my application rejected. While they would still charge my the fee.

N.B. 5: The fee is $410 (more on that later). It is a lot of books!

So I would have to reapply with all the document and pay a second time. So yes, it was both stressful and confusing. Not good for me who has stress-triggered migraines.

I do not think that is US specific though. I am pretty sure the French administration and any others out there are just as confusing.

So, yes, that list of documents I needed:

  • A copy of the J-1 holder’s passport (my husband)
  • Copy of my husband’s J-1 visa
  • A copy of his form DS 2019
  • Copy of his form I-94 travel record.
  • A copy of my passport
  • Copy of my J-2 visa
  • A copy of my form DS 2019
  • Copy of my form I-94 travel record
  • A copy of our extract of marriage
  • Proof that the money I’d earn would not go toward supporting my husband (basically a cover letter)
  • Form G-1450 to pay the fee
  • Form G-1145 to get an e-notification when your application is received
  • Two passport photos (with my full name at the back)

When I applied for a renewal, I basically send the same plus a copy of both side of my initial EAD.

Here is the printable checklist I made for myself.

You can find the template for the cover letter I used here in case you need some inspiration.

How much does it cost?

Don’t you like to pay to be able to work? The fee I had to pay was $410. The USCIS has a fee calculator. Apparently, some eligibility categories have a different fee.

I paid the fee by credit card. How? I had to fill out the form G-1450, which authorizes credit card transactions. I placed the form at the top of my application, as required by USCIS.

Submitting my EAD application

I know some forms can be submitted online if you create a USCIS online account. Not I-765 though. So I had to fill my application at a USCIS lockbox. Where you send your application depends on where you live.

Because I live in New York City, I had to send my application to the Lewisville lockbox in Texas. I choose to send mine with UPS. Not that I do not trust USPS but it did have some issues in the past.

I made sure my application would be signed for and that I’d get a notification from UPS once it was received by the lockbox. Since it takes some time to process applications, I really wanted mine to get there as soon as possible.

The envelop and 2-days express shipping with tracking and receipt on reception costs me $82. It costs what it costs.

How long did it take?

To be honest, it depends. An acquittance of mine got her notification of action from USCIS a week after they received her application. She then got her work permit within a month.

When I applied for my first work permit, I received the notification of action a week after they had received it. However, it took almost four months to receive my EAD.

When I applied for a renewal, it did not get a receipt until 90 days after they had received my application. COVID-19 as well as a surge in filling (as mentioned on their website), has slowed everything.

N.B. 6: I also decided to carry on being a fashion blogger while waiting for my EAD so here is an outfit for you!

living in  the us US work permit J-2 visa US work permit J-2 visa

Shop my outfit
Get 15% off Shein with code “2tea15

Dealing with the administration can be so stressful. Especially if you are not familiar with it. While applying for my J-2 visa was fairly easy, applying for a work permit was harder.

The confusing factor and all. If you too are on a J-2 visa applying for an EAD and not knowing where to start, know that you are not aline. I hope speaking of my experience will help some future applicants!

Thanks a lot for stopping  by. I hope you liked this post.

See you soon,


1 Comment

  1. Luba
    July 31, 2021 / 1:14 am

    Hi, so may I ask – how long time did your renewal took?

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