J-2 Visa

What is the J-2 Visa?

The J-2 nonimmigrant visa allows certain family members of a J-1 visa holder to accompany the J-1 visa holder to the
United States for the duration of the J-1 visa holder’s exchange program or to join them in the U.S. later.

Who Qualifies for the J-2 Visa?

Generally, in order to be eligible for the J-2 visa, an applicant must be the spouse or child under the age of 21 to
a J-1 visa holder. A J-2 visa is only issued in connection to issuance of a valid J-1 visa. However, there are
certain categories of J-1 exchange programs that do not permit the issuance of a J-2 visa. These include the
categories of au pair, camp counselor, secondary school student, and summer work travel.

Moreover, some specific programs do not permit J-2 visas, including some programs that fall under an exchange
category that generally does permit J-2 visas. Thus, J-1 visa applicants should be sure to confirm with their
intended program whether it permits J-2 visas even if it is not in one of the categories listed above.

What is the process for obtaining a J-2 visa?

The application process to receive a J-2 visa is the same as the process for a J-1 visa. After the J-1 visa
applicant has researched and is admitted to the right exchange program for them, the J-2 visa applicant must be
approved by the sponsoring program to accompany the J-1 visa applicant to the United States or join them later.

Step One: The J-1 Applicant Finds the Right Program

Before a J-2 family member can submit their application for admission to the United States, the J-1 exchange program
applicant must first determine what applicable exchange program fits their experience and qualifications.
Individuals can view program requirements and an overview of each program at the United States Department of State’s
chart.

Step Two: J-1 Applicant Connects with a Sponsor

After the J-1 applicant determines which applicable J-1 visa exchange program fits their experience and
qualifications, they must contact a designated sponsor directly in order to determine the sponsor’s specific program
and application requirements. Designated sponsors can be found by searching for them at the United States Department
of State’s sponsor search.
Sponsor’s that operate in non-U.S. countries can be searched for here.

Sponsors will be responsible for selecting applicants and supporting and monitoring them during the entire program.
Thus, it is important when applying to a program for an applicant to ensure he or she meets the program’s
requirements.

Step Three: After J-1 Applicant is Accepted into a Program

When the J-1 applicant is accepted by a sponsor into an exchange visitor program, the J-2 applicant(s) will also be
accepted to join the J-1 applicant. The program sponsor will issue the J-1 and J-2 visa applicants each of their own
filled out Form DS-2019. While each
applicant receives Form DS-2019, only the J-1 visa applicant must pay the Student and Exchange Visitor System (SEVIS) fee. Proof of
payment should be saved for the J-1 applicant’s records.

Once the J-1 applicant has paid their SEVIS fee, both the J-1 and J-2 visa applicants must fill out their own Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application Form DS-160 and pay
the application fees.

Step Four: Schedule an Interview at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate

After the J-1 and J-2 visa applicants pay their application fees and submit their own DS-160 online application,
they must schedule an interview at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate near them.
The J-2 applicant can usually be interviewed at the same time as the J-1 applicant.

Step Five: Attend Interview

At the interview, a consular officer will review the applicant(s) documentation and ask questions related to their
eligibility for the visa(s). Both J-1 and J-2 applicants must bring certain documentation to the interview. The
consular officer conducting the interview may inform the applicant(s) whether their visa(s) are approved at the
interview. In some cases, the consular officer may refer the application for further administrative
processing
.

Below is a list of documents that a J-2 applicant should have with them at the interview:

  • Original passport and photocopies;
  • Form DS-160 confirmation;
  • Passport photo that meets photo
    requirements
    ;

  • Birth certificates for children applicants;
  • Marriage certificates for spousal applicants;
  • Payment receipt for the visa application;
  • Form DS-2019.;
  • Photocopy of the J-1 student’s Form
    DS-2019
    .

In addition to the documents above, the J-1 and J-2 applicants may be required by the consular officer to submit
additional documentation before approving their visas, including evidence of:

  • The purpose of the applicants’ travel;
    • E.g. evidence of admission to an exchange program.
  • Both applicants’ intent to depart the United States after their travel;
    • E.g. evidence of family ties.
  • Both applicants’ ability to pay all travel costs.
    • E.g. evidence of employment or that someone else will pay costs.

Step Six: Enter the United States

After a J-2 visa is approved by a consular officer, the visa holder must travel to a U.S. port-of-entry and request
permission to enter the United States under the visa. Approval of a visa by a consular officer does not guarantee
entry into the United States. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials at the port of entry will permit or deny
entry after reviewing the J-2 visa holder’s passport, visa, and DS-2019. Individuals who are approved to enter the
United States will receive an admission stamp or paper Form I-94,
Arrival/Departure Record
.

Can J-2 Visa Holders Work in the United States?

Generally, J-2 visa holders may seek employment so long as they first obtain an Employment
Authorization Document
(EAD) from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). To receive
an EAD, a J-2 visa holder must file Form I-765, Application for Employment
Authorization
. Employed J-2 visa holders may not use income earned from employment to support the principal
J-2 visa holder.

Can J-2 Visa Holders Attend School in the United States?

J-2 visa holders are eligible to attend part-time or full-time school in the United States at every level of
education. Individuals who plan to attend an undergraduate or graduate degree program should evaluate the length of
the program against the remaining time of validity of their J-2 visa. A J-2 undergraduate or graduate student may
need to change their
status
to a student
(F) visa
. Minor children who are in the United States under a J-2 visa may attend school without obtaining a
student (F) visa.

For How Long is the J-2 Visa Valid?

J-2 visa holders may stay in the United States for only as long as the J-1 visa holder stays in the United States.

The length a J-1 visa holder’s visa is valid depends on the exchange category (type of work or study) and the
specific program’s requirements. Thus, a J-1 visa applicant should refer to the program in order to determine length
of stay minimums and maximums. An applicant can refer to this
chart
for guidance.

Extensions may be granted to no longer than the maximum stay permitted in the exchange category.

Upon the completion of the J-1 visa holder’s exchange program, the visa holder has a grace period of 30 days to
depart the United States.

How Much Does the J-2 Visa Cost?

It costs $160 to apply for a J-1 visa.

The J-2 visa holder may be charged a visa issuance fee, depending on their nationality. To determine whether an
issuance fee applies to your nationality, review the U.S.
Department of State’s reciprocity index
.

Sweta Khandelwal

Sweta completed her Masters in Law from the University of California, Los Angeles and her JD from the Faculty of Law, Delhi University in India and has been practicing law for 15+ years getting visas, green cards, and citizenship for 1000+ clients, 100+ companies across 50+ nationalities.

Sweta has been recognized as a ” Super Lawyer, Rising Star,” and as amongst the ” Top 40 under 40″ immigration attorneys in California (American Society of Legal Advocates). She is also the recipient of the Advocacy Award by the American Immigration Lawyers Association.

Sweta is also a chartered accountant — the equivalent of a CPA. This makes her uniquely positioned to understand the immigration needs of her business clients in the broader context of their corporate objectives.

Sweta is actively involved with immigration issues and immigrant communities in various capacities. She has assumed key roles at the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), both at the local and national level. She has been a past chair at the Santa Clara Valley Chapter at AILA and has also been involved in various practice area committees at AILA National. Sweta has addressed multiple conferences/forums in the United States and worldwide on immigration and business issues.