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 who 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. Each qualifying J-2 dependent must be issued a Form DS-2019 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 can apply for B-2 visitor visas or travel to the US under the Visa Waiver Program.

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 $2600 USD per month for the principal J-1 exchange visitor, $700 USD per month for a J-2 dependent spouse, and $425 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.

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 Forms DS-2019 for J-2 Dependents

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

  • 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
  • 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)

New Exchange Visitor Applicants

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. You will enter the required information for each dependent on the Exchange Visitor tab in 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 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 family members.

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. 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 age 16, in which case the J-1 exchange visitor, as the parent or legal guardian, must sign the J-2 DS-2019 form.

Active MUSC Exchange Visitors

If you are currently in the US in J-1 status at MUSC, and you need to request the addition of J-2 dependents, you will submit the Add New Dependent request through your Terra Dotta Portal (go to the Requests tab, then click ‘Add New Dependent’). A separate Add New Dependent request is required for each dependent. You will enter the required biographic information for your dependent and upload the required documents (referenced above) for your dependent, then click Create Request.

Once your request has been processed, you will receive new J-2 Form DS-2019. You will then send the J-2 Form DS-2019 to your dependent. Your family member can then proceed with applying for a J-2 visa.

J-2 Visa Application

Once your dependents have received the J-2 Forms DS-2019, they 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 the nonimmigrant visa application fee. The SEVIS I-901 fee is not required for J-2 dependent visa applications.

Visit US Embassy to locate the nearest US embassy/consulate for your J-2 dependents. Your J-2 dependents should refer to the specific embassy/consulate’s website for further instructions on the J-2 visa application process. Each consular location operates differently, so instructions may differ depending on the consular location. Just as with J-1 visa applications, it is highly recommended that J-2 visa applicants apply in their country of citizenship.

J-2 Travel to the United States

J-2 dependents can travel to the United States once they have received J-2 visas in their passports. Dependents must have a valid passport with a valid J-2 visa as well as a valid J-2 Form DS-2019 in order to request entry into the United States in J-2 status. It is important that your dependents have the Form DS-2019 on their person (not in checked luggage) when traveling to the US.

After being admitted into the US in J-2 status, your dependents will be assigned I-94 admission records. You and/or your dependents can access the I-94 admission records electronically through the US Customs and Border Protection I-94 website. It important that your dependents access the I-94 records immediately upon arriving in the United States. Your dependents should check the I-94 record to ensure that all information is accurate. Your dependents must save the I-94 records for their own records.

As soon as your J-2 dependents arrive in the United States, you are required to report their arrival to the Center for Global Health. To do this, you will complete the Submit Arrival Documentation request through your Terra Dotta Portal (navigate to the Requests tab, then click ‘Submit Arrival Documentation’). A separate request is required for each J-2 dependent. You will upload the following documents for each dependent with this request:

  • Passport biographic page
  • J-2 visa
  • I-94 admission record
  • Signed J-2 Form DS-2019

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 through USCIS. Please note that the Center for Global Health 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.