The DS-2019 Form is a U.S. government document that permits you to apply for your J-2 Visa at the U.S. Embassy in your home country.
The DS-2019 Form:
- Serves as proof of sponsorship for your J-2 Visa
- Identifies InterExchange as your program sponsor
- Describes the purpose of the program, which is intended for the J-1 holder to intern in the U.S., while you accompany them as a dependent spouse or child
- States the time period that you are legally permitted to remain in the U.S.
The J-2 Visa is a sticker that is added to your passport by a U.S. Embassy or Consulate in your home country. The J-2 Visa allows you to enter the U.S. when you present it with your DS-2019 Form at U.S. Customs & Border Protection (CBP) upon arrival. You cannot obtain a J-2 Visa stamp within the U.S.; it must be obtained in your home country. It is generally valid for one, two, or multiple entries into the U.S. The J-2 Visa has an expiration date, which may or may not be the same as the date on your DS-2019 form.
The I-94 record is your U.S. Arrival/Departure record. If you are coming to the U.S. by air or sea, your arrival record will be recorded electronically by CBP. We recommend you access and print your electronic arrival record (I-94 record) by visiting www.cbp.gov/i94. You will keep this printed copy with other important documents like your DS-2019 form and J-2 Visa.
Visitors coming to the U.S. through a land border (most common with Canadian or Mexican participants) will receive a paper I-94 record from the CBP officer upon entering the U.S. If you do receive a paper I-94, you will be required to surrender the I-94 when leaving the U.S. so that your departure can be recorded properly.
J-2 participants are eligible to work in the United States, but they must first apply through the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for work authorization. To qualify for employment authorization, you will be asked to prove that the job you are doing is not intended to support the J-1 holder. Instructions are available on the USCIS website.
Social Security Number
If your Employment Authorization is approved, you may then apply for a Social Security Number, which is a unique nine-digit number that your U.S. employer will need to put you on their payroll. Should you enter the U.S. on a future work or study program, your Social Security number would remain valid, so please keep your number and card in a safe place.
PROTECT YOUR PERSONAL ID AND CONFIDENTIAL INFORMATION: Your Social Security number is yours alone. Do not allow others to use your number. Record your number in a safe place in case your card is lost or stolen. Protect both your card and your number to prevent misuse.
Remember: You are not eligible for a Social Security number unless you first apply for employment authorization. If you already have a social security number, you may not work in the U.S. on a J-2 Visa without first applying for employment authorization.
Step 1: Make and attend your visa apointment.
If you are applying for your visa along with the J-1 Visa holder, you may schedule your visa appointments together. If you are applying for your visa separate from the J-1 Visa holder, you will schedule your own appointment with the embassy/consulate.
Appointment and application procedures vary by embassy/consulate, so review the instructions for scheduling an appointment on the website of the embassy/consulate where you plan to apply.
Note that wait times are longer at certain times of the year and that you may not be able to get an appointment before your proposed start date. If this happens, please contact InterExchange immediately to let us know your arrival will be delayed.
Canadian citizens are, in most cases, exempt from an embassy/consulate visit and will not need a J-2 Visa to cross the border into the U.S. The DS-2019 Form, however, must be presented at the border. If you are Canadian, contact your local embassy/consulate to verify their policies.
Step 2: Review and sign your DS-2019 Form.
The DS-2019 Form is not a visa application form or a J-2 Visa. Instead, it certifies your eligibility and permits you to apply for a J-2 Visa. Read both sides and thoroughly check the information (e.g. your name, dates, etc.). Errors on this form could result in a visa denial. Please inform InterExchange Career Training USA immediately if you discover any errors.
Read the instructions on the back of the form and sign your name at the bottom of page one to accept the terms and conditions on page two. Your signature is an explicit acceptance of the terms of the program. It is your responsibility as a participant of this program to abide by the laws of the federal, state, and local governments of the United States as well as the rules and regulations set forth by InterExchange, your program sponsor.
Keep your DS-2019 Form in good condition throughout the entire visa process and your stay in the U.S.
Step 3: Complete your visa application and gather the required documents and payment.
Carefully follow the visa application instructions on your home country’s embassy/consulate website. Complete any required application forms and gather any supplemental materials (e.g. proof of ties to home country, proof of sufficient funds, photographs, etc.). You will also need your DS-2019.
J-2 Visa holders are not required to pay a SEVIS fee. The fee is paid by the J-1 Visa holder, but please remember that other fees may be required; confirm the exact amounts required by your embassy/consulate.
Finally, be sure to make copies of your completed application package before submitting it to the embassy/consulate.
Step 4: Apply for your visa.
Submit the following to the embassy/consulate:
- Signed DS-2019 Form
- Your passport (valid for at least six months beyond the end date on your DS-2019 Form)
- All visa application forms required by your embassy/consulate
- Any supporting materials or information required by your embassy/consulate
Step 5: Receive your visa.
If your J-2 Visa is granted, the embassy/consulate will put the visa sticker in your passport and return it along with your DS-2019 form to you. Please submit a copy of your visa to Career Training USA for our records. If you are denied a visa, please contact InterExchange immediately to discuss your options for reapplying. In many cases you will be able to reapply and will simply need to bring information that you did not have during your first attempt. Be sure to contact us so that we can help you decide if reapplying is a good idea and amend your program dates, if necessary.
InterExchange arranges the same insurance coverage to J-1 and J-2 Visa holders. Insurance details can be found on our insurance resources page. You'll find the most up-to-date information on our website.
Health care in the U.S. is very different from health care in other countries. It is extremely important that you understand how your insurance works so that you will not be responsible for costly medical bills. All InterExchange participants and J-2 dependents are now enrolled in a mandatory accident and sickness insurance program arranged through InterExchange. Coverage for the entire length of the J-1 holder’s program plus the 30-day grace period is included with their program and insurance fees. If you are arriving before the J-1 holder’s program start date, you must purchase additional insurance to ensure you are covered during this time frame. InterExchange will order your insurance upon arrival in the U.S., and you will receive an insurance card approximately two weeks after your arrival.
Please note that this is not health insurance; it is accident and sickness insurance. Health insurance is comprehensive and includes preventative care and regular check-ups, as well as care for pre-existing and ongoing conditions. Accident and sickness insurance is simply for accidents and unexpected sickness. If you require regular, ongoing care, you must ensure that you arrange for a health insurance plan in addition to your accident and sickness insurance coverage to meet your health care needs. Similarly, if you have an ongoing illness for which you require more extensive care, you may want to consider temporarily interrupting your program to seek treatment and recover at home, or return home early if your condition is severe in order to receive lower cost treatment in your home country.
Is the J-2 holder required to arrive at the same time as the J-1 holder?
Most family members choose to arrive together to facilitate travel plans, but J-2 holders may apply for a visa and/or travel to the U.S. separately as long as they have a valid DS-2019 and visa.
How long am I allowed to remain in the U.S.?
The length of your program is dictated by the J-1 holder’s program dates. The dates on your DS-2019 will match the dates on the J-1 holder’s DS-2019.
Similar to J-1 participants, J-2 holders are entitled to a 30-day grace period to settle your affairs and to travel within the U.S. after your program ends. Your grace period begins the day after the program end date on your DS-2019 Form. You must exit the U.S. by the 30th day of your grace period in order to remain in good standing. To see if you have been granted a grace period, confirm that the arrival stamp in your passport says “D/S”. This means “duration of status”, which denotes your program dates plus 30 days. If your arrival stamp does not say “D/S” and instead has a date written on it, you must leave the U.S. by that date, even if it is before your program end date.
Are J-2 holders allowed to work?
J-2 holders may only work if they are first approved by USCIS for work authorization. To qualify for employment authorization, you will be asked to prove that the job you are doing is not intended to support the J-1 holder. Instructions are available on the USCIS website.
Are J-2 holders allowed to attend school?
J-2 Visa holders may attend school while in the United States. Please contact the prospective school to find out the requirements for enrolling.
What should I do if I need to travel outside the U.S.?
If you plan to travel outside of the U.S. during your program, you must submit your DS-2019 Form to InterExchange Career Training USA for a travel validation signature before you leave. Failure to obtain a travel validation signature may result in you being subject to additional questioning or even denied entry into the U.S. when you return. The signature is valid for six months, so if you travel multiple times within a six-month period, you do not need to have your form signed each time. Once the six months have passed however, please be sure to have your form signed again before leaving the U.S.
You can mail your DS-2019 Form to us, or you may come into the office if you are in New York City. If mailing your form, please include a self-addressed envelope with the address where you would like your form returned. If you will need your form returned via express mail, you must also include a check or money order for $20, made out to InterExchange, to cover the express shipping fees. To ensure there are no delays in obtaining a signature, we recommend you send us your form two to three weeks before your intended travel date. If you are coming to the InterExchange office for a signature, you must call in advance to schedule an appointment.
When traveling internationally, also use the following tips to facilitate border crossings and ensure your safety:
- Keep your DS-2019 Form with your passport at all times and in a safe place.
- Ensure your visa is a multiple entry, “M” visa. If a specific number of entries is indicated, that is the number of times you may enter the U.S. on that visa. If you do not have a multiple entry visa, you will need a new visa to re-enter the U.S.
Am I allowed to remain in the U.S. if the J-1 holder leaves?
No, you must return home if the J-1 holder is no longer completing an internship in the U.S. Similarly, former spouses may not maintain J-2 status once a marriage has ended.