General Rules for J-2 Dependents
- J-2 Dependents must live with you at all times. J-2 Dependents may not go to school or take a job somewhere that requires that they live away from you. The J-2 visa is exclusively for your dependents who live with you.
- J-2 Dependents may not do substantial work--paid or unpaid--without applying for an EAD card. J-2 dependents may only volunteer, but please note that ‘volunteering’ does not mean unpaid work in your J-2’s area of expertise. Examples of volunteering that do not require an EAD card include: helping out at a homeless shelter or helping to clean up a highway. Working unpaid in a chemistry lab or doing unpaid research is not volunteering. Unpaid work requires an EAD card.
- J-2 children may not be older than 21 years old. If you have any children who turn 21 years old while in the U.S. on a J-2 visa, they will no longer be able to stay in the U.S. in J-2 status, so please contact us in advance.
Applying for J-2 Dependents Before Arrival
If your J-2 Dependents will arrive together with you when you enter the United States, you should list them as dependents with your initial application. To support your J-2 dependents, you will need to show the appropriate additional funding ($500/month per child, and $1,000/month for a spouse) in your initial application.
You will need to show proof of health insurance for all J-2 dependents active on the day you check-in to our office. You should also bring all the J-2 dependents’ passports and original DS2019 forms with you to check-in. Your J-2 dependents are not required to be physically present at check-in.
You will be required to submit the J-2 Responsibility Form in addition to the Exchange Visitor Registration Form.
If you say that your dependents will arrive together with you on your application, but later change your mind, please notify us by email at email@example.com.
If your J-2 Dependents will arrive at a later date, it is critical that you read the Insurance for J-2 Dependents section of this page.
Applying for J-2 Dependents After You Have Already Arrived
If you know your dependents will arrive months after your own check-in, it is best to apply for their DS2019 Forms after you have already arrived at UF and completed your check-in. Doing so will allow you to save money on health insurance costs.
To apply for J-2 dependent DS2019s after your initial arrival, you will need:
- The EV Dependent Request Form,
- Scanned copies of the bio data page in your J-2 dependents’ passports,
- Sufficient proof of funding ($500/month per child, and $1,000/month for a spouse),
- Proof of payment of the EVS processing fee ($100 per dependent), and
- Proof of health insurance for all dependents. The insurance must begin on the day you submit your application, NOT on the date your dependents plan to arrive. This will mean you will have to buy insurance for time that your J-2 dependents are not yet in the country.
Insurance for J-2 Dependents
If you change your mind and your J-2 dependents will not arrive together with you, or if you specify on your initial application that your J-2 dependents will arrive later than you, you MUST have health insurance that begins for all J-2 dependents on the day you check in.
To check-in, you must have health insurance for all J-2 dependents for whom we have issued a DS2019, even those that still have not arrived. If you choose to check-in without buying J-2 insurance, we will be required to completely cancel all J-2 dependents’ DS2019 Forms, which also makes any visa stamps they may have received invalid.
It is critical for you to understand that J-2 dependents must have valid health insurance AT ALL TIMES, NO MATTER WHAT. There are no exceptions to this, so please plan carefully and inform us properly of your J-2 dependents’ arrival dates so that we can help you as best we can.
If you are certain your J-2 dependents will arrive after you check-in, it is usually a better option to simply apply for them later. This saves you the money you would otherwise have to spend on insuring multiple people that are not even in the country.
Cancelling J-2 Dependents
If your J-2 dependents leave the US and do not plan to return, you should notify us so that we may cancel their DS2019 Forms. Only after we have cancelled their forms can you cancel their health insurance coverage.
If your J-2 dependents leave the US, but plan to return, you must keep their health insurance active for the entire period they are gone. If you cancel their insurance, we will cancel their DS2019s.
We only issue a J-2 DS2019 one time per dependent per program, so if you ever cancel a J-2 DS2019, we will not issue a new one in the future. For this reason, we do not recommend using J-2 visas for multiple short visits.
Should my family members come on a J-2 visa or a B-1/B-2/Tourist visa?
If your family will arrive at the same time as you, check-in with you, and leave when you leave, it is best to apply for J-2 visas for your family.
If your family will come to visit you for one week during a holiday, it is best if they apply for tourist visas.
There are many exceptions, and you often will need to evaluate on a case-by-case basis. We encourage you to contact us and ask if you are unsure.
Remember that visitors on tourist visas are not allowed to work or study. Tourists are not allowed to do unpaid work or volunteer jobs. Children who enter the US on B visas are not permitted to enroll in school. J-2 dependents, however, may get employment authorization, take classes, or volunteer. Children on J-2 visas are permitted to enroll in school.
J-2 dependents for Research Scholars are automatically subjected to the two-year bar on repeat participation, which cannot be waived. This means that if your husband or wife comes with you on a J-2 visa, they cannot switch over to a J-1, nor can they get a J-1 visa from somewhere else unless they wait for two years after the end of your J-1 program. If your spouse plans to accept a J-1 position in the future, a tourist visa is probably preferable to a J-2 visa.
If you come from a country such as CHINA, PAKISTAN, or IRAN, where it is generally quite difficult to receive tourist visas, it may be preferable to apply for a J-2 visa, even for a short visit.
If you decide on a J-2 visa, our office will process the DS2019 for you.
If you decide on a tourist visa, our office can write a simple letter that may or may not help your family get a tourist visa. We issue these letters only for direct family members such as parents, children, or spouses. We do not issues these letters for boyfriends, girlfriends, cousins, etc. These letters are really only useful for countries where it is difficult to get US tourist visas. If you come from Europe, Japan, Australia, etc., you definitely do not need this letter.
Our office does not process tourist visas: we can give you the letter, but you otherwise need to research the procedures specific to your home country and have your family apply on their own.