J-2 Dependents

J-2 visa holders are the spouse and/or unmarried children under 21 years of age who accompany or later join the J-1 Exchange Visitor in the United States.

J-2 visa holders are allowed to engage in full- or part-time study and they can apply to USCIS for work authorization after having arrived in the United States.

Each J-2 has their own DS-2019 and J-2 visa stamp in their passport.

If the primary J-1 exchange student is subject to 212(e) (the two year home residency requirement), the dependents, or J-2s, are also subject. Please see the explanation of this requirement below.

All J-2 visa holders must carry and maintain health insurance for the entire length of the J-1 exchange visitor’s program while in the United States.

If a J-2 wants to change to J-1 status, this would be considered a change of status and the J-2 must abide by the rules of changing status. J-2s wishing to change to J-1 status are encouraged to make an appointment with their A/RO.

J-2s wishing to apply for work authorization in the United States should contact their A/RO.

Finally, a J-2 can remain in the United States as long as the principal J-1 visa holder has valid J-1 status. A J-2 is dependent on the principle J-1 visa holder. If the principal J-1 violates status and is terminated, the J-1 and their J-2 dependents are also out of status and must leave the United States.

2 Year Residency Requirement

INA 212(e) Home Residence Requirement applies only to J-1 exchange visitors. As the section states, the exchange visitor if subject must reside and be physically present in their home country for a total of 2 years.

In addition, while being subject to 212(e), J-1 exchange visitors are ineligible for H, L, or K, or permanent resident statuses and cannot change from J to any other nonimmigrant status within the United States (unless they apply to the State Department for a waiver).

  • The Consulate will assign 212(e) to those exchange students who 1) receive direct or indirect U.S. or home country government funding, or 2) study in fields considered in short supply in their home country and which appear on their home country’s “Skills List.”

  • Your J-1 visa in your passport and/or your DS-2019 will specify whether or not you are subject to 212(e).

    On the bottom of your J-1 visa, it will read: “Bearer is subject to 212(e). Two-year rule does apply.”

    On your DS-2019, the following statements will be checked in the Consular’s section: “Subject to two -year residence requirement based on:” and “Government financing and/or” or “The Exchange Visitor Skills List and/or” or “PL 94-484 as amended.”

  • Even though you are subject to 212(e), you may return home to your home country, apply for another nonimmigrant status (including F, but excluding H and L), get a new visa, and re-enter the U.S. This is the easiest way to go about obtaining another nonimmigrant status.

  • Waivers of the two-year home residence requirement may be granted by the Department of State’s Waiver Review Division under special conditions.

    Please contact your A/RO for more information.