Family members of J-1 Exchange Visitors are eligible for J-2 dependent status. Family members are defined as your spouse and/or unmarried children under age 21. Each family member must possess his/her own Form DS-2019.
If you are in the process of coming to NIH, provide your family’s information to your IC’s administrative office so that their information is included with the approved case sent to the DIS.
If you are currently at the NIH and now want your family members to join you (or you recently got married), you can request a Form DS-2019 for your dependent (s) by submitting our Request for Dependent Form DS-2019 to the DIS. After your dependent(s) arrives to the U.S., notify your IC and the DIS. They must be added to your health insurance as soon as possible due to J-1 requirements.
Family members can have their own independent status if they qualify for it. Keep in mind, however, that your dependents must always maintain a lawful status while in the U.S.
J-2 dependents may study part- or full-time. However, some schools may have special requirements, such as changing to a student visa classification. Contact the school for more information.
J-2 dependents may apply for permission to work from the USCIS. Guidance on this topic is available here. Please note that your dependent cannot work until s/he receives the work permission card from the USCIS (known as the Employment Authorization Document or EAD).
Depending on the type of activity, the J-2 dependent may or may not be able to volunteer at the NIH. Permissible volunteer activities for J-2 dependents are ones that are recognized volunteer activities. That is, they are open to any person who wants to volunteer and would not displace a U.S. worker. For example, volunteering with the NIH Clinical Center’s Patient Volunteer Ambassador Program would be a permissible, recognized volunteer activity.
HOWEVER, J-2 dependents can only be “Special Volunteers” at the NIH provided they have received a valid Employment Authorization Document from the USCIS. Special Volunteers do *not* fit the above description because they provide a service to the NIH, such as research services, direct patient care, clerical support, technical assistance, or any other necessary service for the NIH. The NIH receives a benefit from the unpaid service. Such service requires permission to work.