J-2 Status for Dependent Family Members

J-2 visa status is available to spouses and/or children under age 21 who will accompany the principal J-1 exchange visitor to the United States and intend on remaining in the United States for the duration of the J-1 program. J-2 status is not available to parents, siblings, or unmarried partners.

If your dependent family members (spouse, dependent children under 21) will accompany you to the US for the duration of your program, each dependent must be issued a DS-2019 form from MUSC and apply for a J-2 visa at a US consulate abroad.

If your spouse and/or children do not intend on remaining within the United States on an ongoing basis for the duration of your J-1 exchange visitor program, and they will only visit for vacations or short stays, your dependents should apply for B-2 visitor visas or travel to the US under the Visa Waiver Program. You will not need to fulfill the J-1 insurance requirements for your dependents if they come to the US using B-2 visas (though you may still wish to purchase insurance for them). You will also not need to provide proof that you can meet the minimum financial requirements for J-2 dependents if your dependents come to the US as B-2 visitors. However, your dependents will still need to show that they have adequate financial resources to support their stay in the US during the visa interview for a B-2 visa.

Requirements for J-2 Dependents

All J-1 exchange visitors must be able to meet minimum financial requirements for themselves and any accompanying J-2 dependents. The minimum required financial support is $1850 USD per month for the principal J-1 exchange visitor, $500 USD per month for a J-2 dependent spouse, and $300 USD per month for each J-2 dependent child.

All J-1 exchange visitors must have health and medical insurance for themselves and any J-2 dependents that meets the minimum requirements set by the US Department of State as well as MUSC guidelines. If your J-2 dependents will be accompanying you or joining you in the US in J-2 status, you must provide insurance coverage for them. You are required to provide CGH with documents showing that you have obtained insurance for your J-2 dependents. If you have insurance coverage through MUSC, you can add your J-2 dependents to your insurance coverage. Contact the Benefits Office in the MUSC Human Resources Department to discuss the necessary documents and procedures for adding your dependents to your insurance coverage.

Accompanying J-2 dependents must reside with the principal J-1 exchange visitor in the United States. In other words, your J-2 dependents cannot live at a different home address than your address. If you transfer your J-1 program to MUSC from another institution, any J-2 dependents must relocate to Charleston, South Carolina along with you.

MUSC, as the J-1 program sponsor, is required by law to monitor J-2 dependent and report certain information to the government regarding J-2 dependents, such as if an accompanying J-2 spouse and/or children will depart from the US prior to the end of the exchange visitor’s program with no intent to return to the US. Therefore, J-1 exchange visitors at MUSC are required to notify the Center for Global Health of all J-2 travel and departure plans. J-1 exchange visitors should contact CGH if they have specific questions regarding J-2 dependent time spent outside of the US.

Requesting DS-2019 Forms for J-2 Dependents

The following documents must be submitted for all requests for J-2 dependents:

  • Documentation showing proof of funding that meets the minimum financial requirements (if funding is coming from source other than MUSC, or if MUSC funding does not meet the minimum financial requirements)
  • Copy of biographic page of passport for each dependent
  • For spouse – copy of marriage certificate and certified English translation
  • For each child – copy of birth certificate and certified English translation

If you your family members will travel with you to the US and will require J-2 status, you can request the J-2 DS-2019 forms at the same time that you are completing your initial application for J-1 sponsorship with CGH.  You will enter the required information for each dependent on the Exchange Visitor tab within your Terra Dotta scholar portal. You must also upload the supporting documentation referenced above.

Oftentimes, J-1 exchange visitors will travel to the US first to settle in, while their dependents will plan to travel to the US to join them at a later date. If your family members will NOT initially travel with you to the US, then CGH will not issue DS-2019 forms for your dependents along with your initial DS-2019 form. You can request the addition of J-2 dependents through your Terra Dotta portal once you have determined the approximate date of arrival for your J-2 dependents. To do this, log in to your Terra Dotta portal, navigate to the Requests tab, and click the Add J-2 Dependents button. Fill in the required information and upload the supporting documentation referenced above.

If you are requesting DS-2019 forms for your J-2 dependents along with your initial application, the J-2 DS-2019 forms will be sent to you along with your initial DS-2019 form. If you are currently in the US in J-1 status and are requesting the addition of J-2 dependents, you will be contacted to collect the dependent DS-2019 forms, and you will be responsible for sending the original documents to your family members.  J-2 dependents must have the original DS-2019 form in order to apply for a visa. The J-2 spouse/dependents should sign the J-2 DS-2019 form at the bottom in the signature space, unless the J-2 dependent is under the age of 14, in which case the J-1 exchange visitor, as the parent or legal guardian, must sign the J-2 DS-2019 form.

Once your dependents have received the original DS-2019 forms, the can then proceed with applying for J-2 visas at the US embassy/consulate abroad. Each J-2 dependent must apply for a visa separately and pay any associated fees. The SEVIS I-901 fee is not required for J-2 dependent visa applications.

Employment Authorization for J-2 Dependents

J-2 dependents are eligible to apply for employment authorization while in the US, as long as the employment is not for the purposes of supporting the J-1 principal applicant. Visit the US Citizenship and Immigration Services website for more information on eligibility requirements and how to apply for employment authorization.

It is recommended that J-2 dependents wait a minimum of 60 days before applying for employment authorization. If a J-2 dependent applies too early, the risk of the application being denied is greater. CGH cannot assist with J-2 applications for employment authorization.

If USCIS approves employment authorization, the J-2 dependent will be issued an Employment Authorization Document (EAD card). J-2 dependents may then work until the expiration date on the EAD card or until the J-1 exchange visitor completes his/her program, whichever is earlier. If the J-1 exchange visitor discontinues his/her J-1 program or changes to another visa status, the work authorization for the J-2 dependent will become automatically invalid.