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Pre-Entry and Arrival

International Visitor Program

Dependents (J-2 Status)

If the program length, design, activities and lodging allow for the accommodation of dependents (spouses and children under age 21) and if sufficient funding has been demonstrated, exchange visitors may request that family members accompany them during their program. Approval for the invitation of J-2 dependents must be obtained from the unit sponsoring the activity and the Responsible Officer in the International Programs Office. The spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21 are eligible for “J-2 dependent” status. Holders of “J-2” visas must adhere to all rules and regulations governing the exchange visitor program and, like their J-1 “principal”, they are subject to the 2-year home presence requirement. Family members other than the spouse and children are not eligible for J-2 status. They may consider applying for B-2 classification to visit the United States as tourists.

Although family members usually enter as J-2 dependents, they are not required to do so. They may enter as tourists (B-2) or in other visa classes if they qualify. They may stay for the period allowed. Please Note: Funds are required for the support of J1 Principal. Principal cannot be shown as support for dependents.

Funding requirements are specific to each sponsor and visa class. While the B-2 visa may be appropriate for family members who will visit the US briefly, exchange visitors should not try to use the B-2 classification as a way to avoid meeting funding or insurance requirements for family members. B-2 holders have none of the advantages and protections given to J-2 dependents. B-2 holders are authorized for only short stays and have specific end dates on their I-94 cards. This makes them vulnerable to overstays and unlawful presence if they do not exit the country.

Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor (J-2) Status: Form DS-2019
Program Start and End Dates
30-Day Grace Period
Financial Support - Sufficient Funds
2-Year Home Country Physical Presence Requirement
24-Month Bar
Mandatory Health Insurance
Required Check In and Validation
10-Day Notice of Any Move
Notification of Changes in Program Sites or Activities
Travel Outside the US During Program
Program Progress Reports
Notification of Departure
Dependents (J-2 Visa Holders)
Employment and Taxes

Information about dependents planning to accompany or later join the J-1 principal should be provided on the DS-2019 Request Form along with copies of passport pages for correct identification and spelling of names. Upon approval, the Responsible Officer will issue a DS-2019 for each dependent who will accompany a “J-1 principal.” Each J-2 dependent will have his/her own SEVIS number and DS-2019 form. However, their records and funding are directly tied to the J-1 principal’s SEVIS record and DS-2019. Be aware that proof of parental relationships may have to be presented to leave a particular country or enter the USA . Consult local law and the US Consulate.

Funding and Insurance

The Exchange Visitor and/or sponsor must demonstrate adequate financial support to cover living expenses, incidental expenses and health insurance for each dependent.

2-Year Home Presence Requirement, 12- & 24-month Bars, Health Insurance

J-2 dependents are automatically subject to all rules and policies governing the Exchange Visitor Program and the J-1 principal. This means J-2 dependents are subject to the 2-year home physical presence requirement, the 12- & 24-month bars which may affect future program participation and the mandatory health insurance requirement.

Employment & Education

J-2 dependents accompanying research scholars for longer periods of time are permitted to apply for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) from USCIS and may begin employment only after receiving the EAD from USCIS. This process can take several weeks. For more information click here.

J-2 Dependents may enroll in university courses and in public primary and secondary schools.

Travel Outside the USA – Departures

After entering the USA on “J” status, J-1 and J-2 visa holders in the may travel outside the USA for short trips separately or together. They may re-enter on “J” status provided they still have valid passports, J visas and their DS-2019 forms are validated for travel by the Responsible Officer in the Office of International Programs. If the J visa has expired, a new J visa is required for re-entry. J-2 visa holders must reside with the J-1 principal as true “dependents” during their stay in the USA . If the J-1 principal completes a program and leaves the USA permanently, the J-2 dependents must also depart the USA . The J-2 holder’s immigration status is directly tied to the J-1 principal’s status. A J-1 visa holder may travel outside the USA for a short period (i.e. for a conference or business trip), but may not leave J-2 dependents in the USA alone for more than 30 days. This would be a violation of program status and the J-1 and J-2 visa holders would automatically be considered “out of status,” the program would have to be terminated and they would have to depart the USA or file for reinstatement. Research Scholars who have program periods of up to 5 years must maintain insurance for themselves and their J-2 dependents for the entire period of their program, including any periods of time they may spend outside the US .

Change of Status

The US Forest Service does not support or assist program participants wishing to change their immigration status/visa classification. Restrictions and procedures for a J-2 dependent wishing to change status are the same as those followed by the J-1 principal, although in addition to documenting that the J-2 has maintained status, the J-2 must also submit proof that the J-1 has maintained status.


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Next Program Regulation: Employment and Taxes

If you have any questions, please contact:

  • Brenda Dean , International Visitor Program Coordinator, Responsible Officer, (202) 644-4640,
  • Rima Eid, International Visitor Program Specialist, Alternate Responsible Officer, (202)644-4642,
  • Kristin Corcoran, International Visitor Program Specialist, (202) 644-4643,
  • Misty Sidhu, International Visitor Program Specialist, (202) 644-4645,
  • Ashlee Jackson, International Visitor Program Specialist, (202) 644-4644,
  • Lee Blaser, International Visitor Program Specialist, (202) 644-4631,

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