J-2 Dependents

All sponsored dependents accompanying a J-1 exchange visitor will enter the U.S. in the J-2 category. All intending J-2 dependents are required to have a separate DS-2019 form and a machine-readable visa stamp in their passport in order to make a lawful entry to the U.S.

Due to personal circumstances, many dependents choose to follow the principal at a later date. This does not present a problem. The WFU Center for Int’l Studies can process a DS-2019 form for a dependent at any time as long as the J-1 principal is maintaining valid J-1 status.

Please keep in mind that the nonimmigrant status of any J-2 dependent is inextricably linked to the status of the J-1. If the J-1 violates his/her nonimmgrant status, the violation automatically affects the status of all J-2 dependents.

Definition of Dependent

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service has defined dependent for nonimmigrant purposes as a child who is under the age of 21 or a spouse. The category does not include those relatives who do not fall into one of these two classifications.

Dependents and the Two-Year Home Residence Rule

All J-2 dependents are automatically subject to the two-year home residence rule if it applies to the J-1 principal.

Remaining in the U.S.

Since all J-2 dependents rely on the J-1 for legal nonimmigrant status, it is not permitted for them to remain in the U.S. without the J-1 principal. This does not, however, apply to brief periods of time spent outside of the U.S. by the J-1 during the course of program participation.


J-2 dependents are allowed to pursue employment in the U.S. once an employment authorization document is obtained from the U.S. Citizenship and Information Service. For detailed information on applying for this work benefit, please contact Kent Greer of the WFU Center for International Studies.

Social Security Number

A J-2 dependent is eligible to receive a social security number once he/she has obtained an employment authorization document from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

J-2 Dependents and Study

All J-2 dependents are allowed to study on a full-time basis in a regular academic curriculum. A change of status to the student category (F-1) is not necessary.