J-2 work permits are obtained from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) through an application process that takes an average of 3-5 months to process. Employment may not begin until the J-2 has received the work permit, called the Employment Authorization Document (EAD).
The EAD allows the J-2 dependent to work in any job, full-time or part-time. Employment cannot extend beyond the end date on the EAD. Extensions of the EAD are possible, up to the end date on the DS-2019. Please note that the extension process also takes an average of 3-5 months, so plan ahead if employment needs to be continuous (without any gaps between work authorization periods).
International travel is not recommended while the J-2 EAD application is pending at USCIS. The application could be denied since the applicant does not hold a U.S. immigration status while abroad and is therefore ineligible for any status-associated benefits, including the EAD.
Please see the Employment Authorization Application Guide for J-2 Dependents for information on the application process.