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Dependent Work or Volunteer Permissions

See our employment definitions page for the difference between work and volunteer activities.

Work Permission Eligibility

Eligibility for work permission varies by the immigration category. Please discuss your work or volunteers plans with an ISO advisor first.

F-2, J-2 Children, H-4, TD-1, and O-3 Dependents

F-2, J-2 children, H-4, TD-1, and 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. Notify ISO if you change your status.

J-2 Dependent Spouses

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 three 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, see our J-2 Employment Authorization handout (PDF). A US Social Security Number can be requested as part of your application to USCIS or when your work authorization has been approved.

Volunteer Activities (Versus Work)

Dependents of F-1 and J-1 Students

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.
  2. The organization does not usually pay someone to do the same kind of work.
  3. The company should not be a private, for-profit employer.

If these conditions are met, get a letter or other document from the organization confirming that your activities there are unpaid and voluntary. To volunteer through the University’s Strong Memorial Hospital, contact Friends of Strong.

Dependents of J-1 Scholars

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, meet with an ISO advisor prior to engaging in possible employment or volunteer activities.

Dependents of H-1B, O-1, and TN Employees

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.