What is a J2 visa?
The J2 is a non-immigrant visa and a “derivative” of the J1 Exchange Visitors visa. It is a dependent visa and allows immediate family members to accompany a J1 primary visa holder. Immediate relatives are defined as unmarried children under the age of 21 and spouses of a J1 visa recipient. Being a dependent visa, any change to J1 status affects J2 status.
There are several J1 visa classifications and each has its own J2 rules. Additionally, not all J1 classifications support J2 visas. Some examples include camp counselors, high school students, work and travel participants, and au pair visa classifications.
This is because the US government does not specify any goals in this regard. You may have a J2 dependent on a J1 visa in those classifications only if your program sponsor or program authorizes it.
J2 visas do not have an annual issuance limit. Relatives, no matter how many, can apply as long as they meet the requirements. Holders of a J2 visa are permitted to work and study in the US under certain restrictions.
Who is eligible for the J2 visa?
In order to obtain a J2 visa, you have to fulfill the necessary prerequisites:
Be a J1 visa holder’s spouse
Be the unmarried child of a J1 visa holder and be under 21 years of age.
Must be permitted to accompany a J1 visa holder by their sponsor or program.
These are the standard prerequisites for obtaining a J2 visa. Depending on the program and sponsor, there might also be restrictions that are unique to each situation.
You cannot apply for a J2 dependent visa as a spouse unless you are legally married to the J1 visa holder and have official marriage certificate. In other words, those in dating and partnership relationships cannot apply for a J2 visa.
In such situations, it may still be possible to reach your partner by applying for the B2 tourist visa. You may apply with the intent of coming to visit family and friends in the United States. The main requirement is that you have the financial support to support your stay.
Documents you will need:
For your J2 visa application, you may need to provide the following documents during the interview:
- DS-160 confirmation page with barcode
- Visa fee receipt
- Interview confirmation letter
- International passport valid for at least six months beyond the intended period of stay in the United States.
- Passport photo according to US visa standards
- Confirmation of your DS-2019 form
- J1 Visa Beneficiary Form DS-2019 Confirmation
- Confirmation of Form DS-7002 for J1 intern or trainee classifications
- Marriage certificate for the spouse of the J1 visa holder
- Copy of the affidavit and photo with the witnesses if married at the registry office
- Wedding albums and postcards
- Birth certificates for unmarried children under age 21
Proof of sufficient financial means to cover expenses
How to apply for a J2 visa?
Applying for the J2 visa is not much different from applying for the main J1 visa. The J1 visa sponsor simply needs to submit several DS-2019 forms for each J2 applicant.
The DS-2019 form includes sponsor and exchange visitor details. It also describes the program, including start and end dates, visa category, and estimated cost.
You must complete and submit the Nonimmigrant Form DS-160 online. The embassy will start the processing only after you have paid the application fee. You will also need to submit all your documents.
You will be given an appointment date to appear at the embassy for a visa interview following processing. During the interview, a consulate official will ask you about your plans in the United States, your relationship with the J1 visa holder, and your finances.
It is also necessary to undergo a medical examination and possibly be vaccinated. The embassy typically recommends a doctor or clinic. They will not accept your medical exam if you have it elsewhere.
You will get the J2 visa if the officer finds your interview satisfactory. With the visa, you cannot travel before the J1 visa holder. Either you travel at the same time as the J1 holder or you travel later to join him in the United States.
J2 Visa Application Fees:
Generally speaking, the application procedure for a J2 visa requires the following fees:
- DS-160 filing fee: $185
Validity of the J2 visa:
The J1 and J2 visas are both valid for the same amount of time. For example, a J2 visa will be valid for two years if the J1 visa is valid for two years.
If the J1 visa holder requests and receives a visa extension, the J2 visa holder is also entitled to the same length of extension. After approval, you will receive a new Form DS-2019.
Most J1 visa categories require two years of residence in your country and the same goes for J2 dependents. To apply for the same or a comparable visa, you must first return to your home country and remain there for two years. This is known as two-year residence.
As a J2 visa holder, you can change your status to another nonimmigrant visa if the two-year home residency requirement does not apply to the J1 category. Some J1 holders may also request a waiver to waive the mandatory domestic residency requirement. If your J1 visa is granted an exemption, the same exemption applies to you as a J2 employee.
With the waiver, you can change your status if you find a job that qualifies you for a different visa such as the H-1B visa. You may also become a green card holder to live and work in the United States permanently. This is because if the J1 holder qualifies for a green card, you, as a J2 employee, also automatically become eligible to apply for a green card.
How long does J2 visa processing take?
The processing time for a J2 visa varies based on a number of factors. In particular, the workload at the embassy where you applied plays an important role. Another important factor is your country of residence.
J1 visa processing time can also affect your J2 if applied together. A J1 visa takes approximately one to two weeks to process, and you may also get your J2 visa within this time frame.
However, if you request the J2 differently or after processing the J1, it may take approximately 30 days to process. In most cases, the sooner you apply for the J2 visa, the better.
How may a holder of a J2 visa obtain a work permit?
If you obtain a work permit from the USCIS, you can work in the country as a holder of a J2 visa. If the income from work is not enough to support the J1 family member to whom the J2 is linked, a work permit can be applied for.
The procedure is quite simple. The main procedure is to apply for employment authorization using Form I-765 to USCIS and pay the filing fee. In addition to the form, you will provide other documents, including DS-2019, J1 DS-2019, international passport copy, and passport photographs.
The address where you will file your request will be on Form I-765. Typically, you can store your documents at the USCIS Phoenix Lockbox or the USCIS Dallas Lockbox.
If approved, USCIS will issue you an Employment Authorization Document (EAD). Processing an EAD request can take approximately 90 days, and the document is generally valid for one year or until the end date listed on the DS-2019, whichever comes first.
You can renew your EAD when it expires and it is advisable to apply for renewal four months before it expires. You can also apply for a Social Security Number (SSN) with your EAD.
Can you study on a J2 visa?
J2 visa holders may be permitted to enroll in academic programs as degree-seeking students.
You can enroll in any academic program, full-time or part-time. In particular, you should not apply to a school that requires relocation as you must reside with the J1 visa holder as a dependent.
If you have not finished your studies by the expiry of your J2 visa, you can apply for a change to an F1 student visa. To apply for a change of status, you must not be subject to the two-year home residence requirement due to your immigration status.