Dependent Work Permissions
As for all foreign nationals, it is especially important that dependent spouses and children maintain their status by not working in the United States without specific authorization. Eligibility for work permission varies by the immigration category:
F-2, J-2 children, H-4, TD-1, & O-3 dependents are NOT eligible for US work permission. Employment without appropriate authorization is a serious and immediate violation of status. If you receive a job offer, you will need to discuss visa sponsorship for an employment-based category with your potential employer. Please notify ISO if you change your status. See below for information on volunteer opportunities.
J-2 dependent spouses are eligible to apply for employment authorization from the US Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS). You may only apply for work permission once you are in valid J-2 status, either by travel or Change of Status, and may NOT begin employment until you have received the Employment Authorization Document (EAD card). This application requires a fee and can take 3 months or longer for processing. You will need to provide a copy of your approved EAD card to the ISO. For details and application procedures, please see our J-2 Employment Authorization handout. You may apply for a Social Security Number when your authorization is approved.
Volunteer Activities (vs. Work)
Dependents of F-1 and J-1 students may volunteer under strict conditions and should speak with an ISO Advisor prior to engaging in the activity. Volunteer activities require that 1) you are not receiving any kind of payment or benefit for the services you provide, and 2) the organization does not usually pay someone to do the same kind of work. Additionally, the company should not be a private, for-profit employer. If these conditions are met, you should get a letter or other document from the organization confirming that your activities there are unpaid and voluntary. If you would like to volunteer through UR Strong Hospital, please contact Friends of Strong.
Dependents of J-1 scholars must apply for work authorization before beginning in any activity which may be viewed as work, regardless of whether payment will or will not be received. When in doubt, please schedule an appointment to meet with an ISO Advisor prior to engaging in possible employment or volunteer activities.
Dependents of H-1B, O-1, and TN employees must be careful not to complicate or disrupt any other immigration petitions or benefits that may be in progress. Volunteer activities can complicate these procedures. You must NOT engage in any activities, volunteer or otherwise, without discussing your plans in detail with an ISO Advisor beforehand.
For more information on dependent permissions and requirements, please visit our Dependent Spouses & Children page.