Exchange Visitors may wish to bring their families with them during their program visit. A spouse or children under the age 21 may come as dependents. Information is provided either with the initial request for the J-1 (primary J visa holder) so that the dependents may come with the scholar. Or, the scholar may request documents for the dependents after arrival so that they may come separately. The Form DS-2019 is issued to each dependent so that they may apply for the J-2 visa. A request for the documents is required to provide certain information about the dependents on the DS-2019s. The Forms will show the J-1 primary’s personal data and information about the program, plus personal data about the J-2 dependent.
To request the Form DS-2019 for dependents, additional evidence of financial support may be required. The current minimum amount of financial support for a spouse should be an additional $700/month, and for a child it should be an additional $350/month.
J-2 visa status is entirely dependent on the J-1 primary situation. As long as the J-1 maintains status and continues in the program, the J-2 may continue to hold the J-2 status. If the J-1 leaves the program and exits the U.S., the J-2 dependents must leave also.
Dependents are also required to be covered by health insurance as required by the U.S. Department of State. Exchange Visitors who bring dependents should be prepared to provide proof of insurance immediately upon arrival of the dependents.
J-2 dependents may apply to USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services) for permission to accept employment, provided the income is not needed for the support of the primary J-1 primary visa holder. To apply for employment authorization, the Form I-765 with a fee and supporting documents must be submitted. An application packet with instructions may be picked up at the ISSS front desk.
SUBJECTIVITY TO THE TWO-YEAR HOME RESIDENCE REQUIREMENT
If the J-1 is subject to the 2-year home residence requirement, the J-2 is also subject to the requirement. However, it is possible that the J-2 may request a waiver of the 2-year requirement separate from the J-1. The J-2 dependent may be interested in changing status or in becoming a J-1. These are complicated issues and should be discussed with a scholar advisor or immigration specialist.