J2, H2 and other dependent visas… Can I work in the U.S.?



Congratulations, you or your spouse has obtained a new position in the U.S.! A new life is about to start (or has already started) and coming here means that you wil leave your country, move in a new place and basically, discover the well-known American way-of-life! So, from a personal and cultural point of view, this experience will be amazing and unforgettable!

Now, from a professional point of view, this big change is probably one of the greatest opportunities you’ll have in your career. But if you plan to come here with your family, this move also means that your partner will have to find a solution for his/her job. Very often, this new life forces your partner to quit his/her position and, probably, accept the idea of making a professional change or break.

One of the first things you have to take into consideration is the legal ability  for your partner to  work or not in the U.S. In fact, according to the visa you’ll be under for the time-period of your stay, your spouse will be or won’t be able to work. So be careful, and if you can, try to take this point into consideration while negociating your new position.

We’ve been in your shoes and we know how complicated it can be to figure all it out at the very beginning of your stay! In order to help you find the right info, below a selection of some reliable websites.

According to the visa you will be under (J-1, H…) your partner may be in a category which requires he/she to file for permission to work. You can find a detailed Visa Classifications & Work Authorization on the Berkeley University website. For those who are elligible to work in the U.S., you are required to apply for work authorization and an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) with the Form I-765, prior to seeking work in the United States. The EAD is the proof that you will show to your employer that you are allowed to work in the United States. In most cases, EADs are granted for a 1 year period.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) – for work authorization forms
Stanford Bechtel International Center
Columbia Employment Authorization for Dependents in J-2 status

Know that the process to obtain a work authorization has a cost and can take a few months.

So, be prepared to take some vacations before seeking for a job and good luck in your new life!

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