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J-2 Status for Dependent Family Members

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 by MUSC and apply for a J-2 visa. Please inform CGH if your dependents will be accompanying you to the US or if your dependents will join you in the US at a later date. 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.

J-2 status is meant for spouses and/or children who intend on remaining in the United States for the duration of the J-1 program. If your dependents do not intend on staying 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 travel 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. For information on the B-2 visitor visa and the Visa Waiver Program, please refer to the US Department of State.

Accompanying J-2 dependents must reside with the principal J-1 Exchange Visitor in the U.S. J-2 dependents cannot live at a different address than the address of the J-1 Exchange Visitor. If a J-1 Exchange Visitor transfers to MUSC from another institution, any J-2 dependents must relocate along with the J-1 Exchange Visitor.

Obtaining DS-2019s for J-2 Dependents

J-1 Exchange Visitors must be able to financially support themselves during their time at MUSC. In addition, if a J-1 has accompanying J-2 dependents, the Exchange Visitor must prove that he/she can financially support the dependents as well. The minimum financial support required is approximately $1850 USD per month for the principal J-1 Exchange Visitor, and an additional $500 USD per month for a J-2 dependent spouse and $300 USD per month for each J-2 dependent child. J-1 Exchange Visitors must also purchase insurance that meets the J-1 requirements for each J-2 dependent.

If you want your family members to accompany you to the US in J-2 status, or if you are already in the US in J-1 status and you want your family members to be able to join you in the US as J-2 dependents, please contact CGH and provide the following documents:

  • Copy of each dependent’s biographic passport page
  • If spouse—copy of marriage certificate and, if necessary, certified English translation
  • If child—copy of birth certificate and, if necessary, certified English translation
  • Documentation that proves that you can meet the minimum financial requirements
  • E-mail address for each dependent (required by SEVIS)—if the dependent is a minor child and does not have an e-mail address, please indicate this

Once CGH has issued the DS-2019, your dependents must apply for J-2 visas at a US Embassy or Consulate. Your dependents must have their original DS-2019 forms in order to apply for a J-2 visa. If you are already in the US, CGH will contact you to pick up the DS-2019s so that you can mail them to your dependents.

Insurance for J-2 Dependents

J-1 regulations require that all J-1 exchange visitors and J-2 dependents have insurance that meets the requirements set forth by the US Department of State (see the insurance page for more details). 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.

MUSC Employee Insurance

If you have insurance coverage through MUSC, you must add your J-2 dependents to your insurance coverage as soon as they arrive in the US. You will not be able to add your dependents to your insurance until they arrive in the US. To add your dependents to your MUSC insurance coverage, contact your HR Benefits Representative.

Outside Insurance

If you have insurance through an outside provider, you need to add your dependents to your insurance coverage or purchase insurance coverage for them as soon as possible. Depending on your insurance provider, you may be able to add your family members as dependents of your insurance plan, or you may have to purchase a separate plan for each family member. Regardless, you must insurance that the coverage that you purchase for your family members meets the J-1 minimum insurance requirements. You are required to provide CGH with documents showing that you have purchase insurance for your J-2 dependents.

Employment Authorization

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 U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services 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.

If the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) grants employment authorization, the J-2 dependent will be issued an Employment Authorization Document (EAD), commonly referred to as an 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 category, the work authorization for the J-2 dependent will be made invalid.