On-campus Employment

Students in valid J-1 student status are eligible for on-campus employment with written permission from ISS. On-campus employment does not need to be related to the academic objective.

All employment must be authorized by ISS before the start date for on-campus or off-campus employment. Employment authorization for students in their first semester will only be granted after Check-in and validation are complete. Working without authorization is a violation of legal status. 

J-1 On-Campus Employment request in Terra Dotta

During Fall/Spring:

  • 20 hours per week, all positions combined
    • Spring semester restriction begins January 22, 2023
    • Fall semester restrictions begin on September 3, 2023

During authorized vacation periods (spring, summer, winter breaks):

  • Over 20 hours per week is possible; no cap imposed by immigration regulations
    • Winter 2023/2024 dates: Sunday, December 17, 2023 – Saturday, January 20, 2024
    • Spring 2024 dates: Sunday, March 24 – Saturday, March 30
    • Summer 2023 dates: Sunday, May 7 – Saturday, September 2
      • If you have an I-20 or DS-2019 program start date or program end date for summer, you are limited to 20 hours per week.
  • UW may limit to no more than 29 hours per week (this is institutional policy for student hourly positions; consult with your payroll specialist to confirm)
  • Must have been enrolled full-time before vacation period
  • Must intend to enroll full-time after vacation period

Looking for an on-campus job? Search the Student Job CenterJust ISSued, GradConnections Weekly, and department websites for postings!


Off-campus Employment for J-1 Students: Academic Training

 Students in valid J-1 student status are also eligible for off-campus employment authorization called Academic Training. Academic Training provides J-1 students with practical experience that compliments their program of study and must be directly related to the J-1 student’s field of study, or major.

Academic Training is available to students either during their program (Pre-Completion) or after completion of their program (Post-Completion). A student’s academic training can only be as long as their program of study, and not longer than 18 months. 

Academic Training information and requirements

Pre-Completion Academic Training application – J-1 students requesting off-campus work authorization during their program for employment training or practical experience

Post-Completion Academic Training application – J-1 students requesting off-campus work authorization after their program for employment training or practical experience

J-1 Clinical Restrictions

J-1 Students cannot participate in any clinical care positions or any other position that involves patient contact. Any position that would require a student intern to provide therapy, medication or other clinical or medical treatment is prohibited, including veterinary medicine 

Find more detailed information on the J-1 Academic Training Page.

J-2 Employment

J-2 dependents may apply for employment authorization through U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) after arriving in the United States. The J-2 cannot apply for work permission until they are in the U.S. Visit this page for application procedures and fees.


We understand the unique needs for F-2/J-2 dependents accompanying their family members in the United States. We encourage families to join the full-time students at ISS Programs and Events as they build community here in Madison. Below, we have compiled some resources for dependents of international students.

Community Coordinated Child Care, 4-C

Domestic Abuse Intervention Services, DAIS

English Classes with Madison Friends of International Students, MFIS

Madison Public Schools

City of Madison Recreation

Madison’s Henry Vilas Zoo

Madison Children’s Museum

Morgridge Center: UW-Madison’s Center for Public Service

UW-Madison Office of Child Care & Family Resources

Family Resource Guide:  A Guide for International Families


Wisconsin state law requires that all children between the ages of six and 18 attend school. If you live in Madison your child is eligible to enroll in the Madison Metropolitan School District if he/she is five years old on or before September 1 for entrance into kindergarten. Children who are six years old on or before September 1 can begin first grade. Most Madison children begin at the age of 5 in the public school kindergarten.

Public schools are free to all children except for a small fee which parents pay to cover the cost of books and supplies. If you have school-age children, call the Madison Metropolitan School District’s Registration & Enrollment office (663-4957) to find out which school they will attend. Then contact that school and make an appointment to register your children. Take their passports, health records, and school records when you register them.

The Madison Metropolitan School District provides bus service for children in elementary school who live more than 1.5 miles from their school. The school district also has arrangements for children with special needs or disabilities.

For more information about the Madison Metropolitan School District, visit:

Private schools and parochial schools can be found by visiting the webpage of the Wisconsin Department of Public instruction:


When you are leaving Madison permanently, notify the teacher of your expected date of departure. The school will give the chil­dren report cards and certificates of attendance.

Most schools have parent teacher organizations (often identified by the acronym PTO or PTA) that make it possible for you to meet your child’s teacher and the parents of classmates. Contact your child’s school for information about meeting times and how to get involved.

You or your spouse may also want to contact your child’s school or teacher and offer to volunteer. This extra help is often highly appreciated.


Information for international families with children:

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Having a Baby and U.S. Citizenship

If your baby will be born in the U.S. her or she will be considered a U.S. citizen. U.S. laws do not require that your baby give up citizenship from your home country (if they are considered as such by the laws of your country), but your home country may not accept the dual citizenship status. Contact your home country embassy in the U.S. to register their birth and if you have questions about citizenship. Parents of a U.S. citizen child are eligible to apply for U.S. permanent resident status when the child is 21 years old.

Your child born in the United States cannot be your F-2 dependent.

To travel and re-enter the U.S., your child will need a U.S. passport. You can obtain the application from the Madison Post Office, 3902 Milwaukee Street, or download the forms from the U.S. Department of State web site.

Public Assistance

Nonimmigrants are not eligible for public assistance in the U.S.  However, as students with dependents are quick to learn, the costs of health insurance for their family members can be quite high. Unfortunately, some people may be unable to bear the financial burden and choose to risk not having health insurance coverage. When they are unexpectedly faced with the birth of a child, some families may turn to the aid of the U.S. government. In some cases, hospital staff or doctors may even suggest that an international student or scholar take advantage of such public assistance.

The fact that you may be encouraged to sign up for public assistance by hospital staff or other “official” does not mean that you are eligible. The consequences of accepting such assistance are that if you leave the U.S. and want to return, you may be stopped at the U.S. border and denied entry until the amount of public assistance you received has been repaid.

Unattended Children

There are strict laws about leaving very young children alone, either in cars, in public, or at home. The law states that it is a crime to leave anyone in a car who is incapable of getting out without help. These laws stem from cases where young children have died from being left in cars with closed windows in warm weather. In addition, it is considered “child neglect” to leave very young children unattended (such as outside of a restaurant) or home alone. It is better to awaken a sleeping child than to risk their possible harm, and/or face arrest.

Car Safety Seats

Wisconsin state law requires that children under age 4 be restrained in an appropriate, federally approved car seat. The law in Wisconsin further requires that children ages 4 to 8 ride wearing a seat belt or a federally approved car seat or booster seat. All other drivers and passengers must always wear a seat belt while in a moving car.

Child Passenger Safety

Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death among children ages 2 to 14, due in large part to the nonuse or improper use of child seats and seat belts. Working with parents and our partners our goal is to ensure every child is properly secured and safe every trip, every time.

We would like to ask if you are a parent that is not sure which car seat to use? Are you overwhelmed by the choices and worried about how to properly install your car seat? The UW-Madison Police Department has 3 Child Passenger Safety Seat Technicians that have attended and completed the necessary training through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Our technicians volunteer their services at car seat events throughout Dane County and schedule one-on-one appointments. At the appointments, technicians teach anyone who transports children the proper way to ensure their child’s safety seat is appropriate for the child’s needs, for the vehicle and how to always use the safety seat correctly.

To schedule a one-on-one consultation contact:
Police Officer Kristin Radtke keradtke@wisc.edu or 608-262-4524

If you have questions or have other issues you would like to discuss, you are encouraged to speak with the friendly staff at the International Student Services Office, located at 716 Langdon Street, 217 Red Gym.


An international student may be accompanied to the U.S. by their dependent(s) at any time. Dependents are defined as spouses and/or unmarried minor children. Children over the age of 21 are not eligible to enter as the dependent of an international student (F-1 or J-1 student). An international student’s dependents may apply for their F-2 or J2 visas at the same time that the international student applies for an F-1 or J-1 visa, or they may apply for their F-2 or J-2 visas at a later date. If they are granted the visa, they may enter the United States when the international student does, or they may enter the U.S. at a later date.

If you wish to bring a dependent to the U.S. please contact ISS to learn what information you need to submit to request a dependent I-20 or DS-2019. It is important to determine whether you have sufficient funds to support yourself and your dependents. The University of Wisconsin requires proof of funds that range between $5,000-$7,000 for a spouse and $9,204 for each child in order to prepare the dependent I-20 or DS-2019(s). Such proof of funding is required because the U.S. government necessitates that all international students and their dependents present proof of financial resources.

  • If your family members are abroad and you want them to join you in the US, please complete the  and submit it with the required documents listed on the form.
  • If your family members are already in the U.S. on another type of visa and you wish to change their status to F-2 or J-2, you should meet with an ISS advisor during walk-in advising. In some cases it may not be possible to change status while in the US or there may be deadlines to consider.
  • Children born in the United States are US citizens. As such, they are ineligible for F-2 or J-2 status. ISS will not include family members who are US citizens in your documentation.

Note: Please make your requests in a timely manner. ISS strives to complete your requests as soon as possible, but processing may take several weeks. Keep this in mind when making an appointment to apply for visa stamps at an US Embassy/Consulate, booking airline tickets, or meeting deadlines to change status in the US.

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I am an F-1 or J-1 student. How do I secure an F-2 or J-2 visa for my dependent(s)?

(If applying separately from F1 or J1)

Submit your request to add a dependent to your I-20 or DS-2019 in your Terra Dotta portal.

Once the dependent I-20 or DS-2019 is received, mail the document to your spouse and/or children. The spouse should make an appointment with the nearest U.S. Consulate to request an F-2 or J-2 visa. The spouse should bring a valid passport, dependent I-20 or DS-2019, proof of relationship to student (for example, marriage certificate translated into English), proof of birth for dependent children, and proof of funding to the consular interview. Once the visa has been secured, each dependent must present a valid I-20 or DS-2019, a valid F-2/J-2 visa (except citizens of Canada), and a passport that is valid at least 6 months from the date of entry in order to successfully enter the U.S.

Can I invite family members other than my spouse and/or unmarried minor children?

Only the spouse (limited to one) and unmarried minor children (under 21 years old) of an F-1 or J1 student are eligible to enter the United States in F2/J2 dependent status. Frequently, international students wish to invite their parents or other family members to the U.S. to attend graduation or for a visit. If your parent(s) or other family members, including children over the age of 21, wish to enter the U.S. temporarily to visit, they may enter on a B-2 tourist visa. As an F-1 or J-1 student, you should write an invitation letter to your relative or family member to submit with their B-2 visa application. You should confirm your academic and immigration status as a student at UW-Madison.

What should my dependent(s) know about travel?

The same rules apply to dependent travel as to travel by international students. A current travel endorsement on your dependent’s I-20 or DS-2019 is required for re-entry to the U.S. If you travel outside of the U.S. for more than five months, your dependent(s) may not remain in the U.S. If you travel outside of the U.S. temporarily (less than five months), your dependent(s) may remain in the United States.

Is health insurance required for my dependent(s)? How do I enroll my dependent(s) in a health insurance plan?

The cost of health care is extremely high in the U.S. All students and their dependents must be enrolled in an insurance plan that meets the minimum levels of coverage set by this university for the duration of their time in the U.S. F-1 students and their dependents are not required by USCIS to be enrolled in an insurance plan, but the University of Wisconsin requires that the F-1 students and their dependents be ensured.

J-2 dependents are required by the Department of State to have adequate health insurance.

International students on F-1 and J-1 visas must be enrolled in SHIP (Student Health Insurance Plan) or an alternative approved health insurance program; dependent family members must be enrolled as soon as they arrive. For information about the UW-Madison’s health insurance program or obtaining a waiver for an approved health insurance program, contact the SHIP office at 265-5232, 333 East Campus Mall.

Can my dependent(s) study/take classes in the U.S.?

F-2 Dependents                              
F-2 dependent spouses may study part-time in the United States, but they may not enroll as full-time students. F-2 dependent children may study at the elementary and secondary levels (kindergarten through 12th grade), and they may also enroll full-time at a college or university until the age of 21. Furthermore, local schools and community colleges offer recreational courses, such as cooking, swimming, driver’s education, car maintenance, dancing, etc. in which F-2 dependents may also enroll.

F-2 dependent spouses who wish to engage in full-time study may apply for a change to F-1 student status. Likewise, F-2 dependent children are advised to apply for a change to F-1 student status prior to their 21 birthday in order to continue their studies at UW-Madison. If you or your dependent(s) wish to apply for a change to F-1 status, please seek guidance from the ISS office.

J-2 Dependents
A J-2 dependent may study full or part time in the United States. Dependent children with J-2 visas may study in an elementary or secondary school (kindergarten through 12th grade) and at the postsecondary level (college or university). If you are a student whose dependent(s) would like to change their status, please seek guidance from the ISS office.

Is my dependent(s) allowed to work in the United States?

U.S. visa regulations do not allow F-2 dependents to work in the United States.

J-2 dependents are allowed to work in the United States with proper authorization. This authorization can be applied for once the J-2 has entered the country. Please be aware that it can take up to 4 months for USCIS to approve the employment authorization, and that the J-2 dependent may not begin working until they have received an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) card. EAD cards are issued for a 12 month period, and they may be renewed each year that the spouse is in J-2 status. Review J-2 Employment Authorization Handout to apply to USCIS.

Is volunteering allowed in F-2 or J-2 status?

Both F-2 and J-2 dependents may participate in volunteer activities.

For information about volunteer opportunities, visit the Morgridge Center for Public Service in room 154 of the Red Gym or their webpage at www.morgridge.wisc.edu.


All non-US citizens, including F-2 and J-2 dependents, are required to keep their current US residential address up-to-date with the US Federal government. All F-2 and J-2 dependents must complete the form AR-11 within 10 days of establishing a new US residential address. The form AR-11 is can be downloaded from www.uscis.gov.

Note: F-1 and J-1 students only need to update their addresses using their online MyUW accounts. ISS forwards this information directly to the US Federal government. Because F-2 and J-2 information cannot be updated in this manner, an AR-11 form must be submitted for each dependent family member.

When Does F-2 or J-2 Status End?

F-2 and J-2 dependents are eligible to remain in the US as long as the F-1 or J-1 student remains in valid status. Once an F-1 student has completed their program of study, the F-1 student as well as their F-2 dependent(s) are eligible to stay in the US for up to 60 days. Once a J-1 has completed their program of study, the J-1 student and their J-2 dependent(s) are eligible to stay in the US for up to 30 days.

Note the following situations where F-2 or J-2 status ends even if the F-1 or J-1 remains in valid status:

If F-1/F-2 spouses or J-1/J-2 spouses obtain a divorce, the F-2 or J-2 is no longer the dependent of the F-1 or J-1. The F-2 or J-2 cannot remain in the US on a dependent visa. The F-2 or J-2 should depart the US or, if eligible, apply for an alternate visa status prior to the finalization of the divorce.

If an F-2 or J-2 child marries or reaches the age of 21, s/he is no longer the dependent of the F-1 or J-1 parent. The F-2 or J-2 child cannot remain in the US on a dependent visa. The F-2 or J-2 should depart the US or, if eligible, apply for an alternate visa status in a timely manner.

Are English language and community programs available for dependents?

Visit the ISS office to learn about campus and community programs that are available to dependents of international students. Madison Friends of International Students (MFIS) and other off campus organizations offer English classes to the spouses of international students. Dependents may join social or special interest groups, i.e., gardening, hiking and nature clubs, civic organizations, etc. There are also many opportunities to volunteer in local libraries, hospitals, day care centers, animal shelters and social agencies. An excellent place to search for volunteer opportunities is the Morgridge Center for Public Service, located in the Red Gym at 716 Langdon Street.

Adapting to life in the U.S.

Prepare your spouse and children for life in the U.S. by sharing the information that you have learned about the U.S. Help your family to adjust their expectations and to keep open minds when they experience cultural differences.

If English is not your family’s first language, prepare your spouse and children by ensuring that they begin learning some English prior to moving to the U.S. Then make arrangements for more English training after they arrive in the U.S.

Discuss issues of loneliness and other symptoms of culture shock with your family prior to and after arriving in the U.S.

Help your family develop coping strategies. Even before you leave home, try consulting with others who have studied overseas or lived abroad. This may be helpful in preparing for the initial stress of relocating. Ask your friends and colleagues about their experiences and ways they resolved initial difficulties.

Support your spouse’s interests and activities in the U.S.

Help your children by acknowledging any negative feelings they may have about the move, help them maintain their relationships with friends and family in both countries, and give them something to look forward to during the move (a new privilege, possession or activity). Be aware that schools at home may have focused differently on educational topics and there may be gaps in your children’s education. You can help by providing supplemental teaching for your children at home, hiring a tutor, or securing extra books or software.

Remember that family members will need your time and attention, and you will need to find a way to balance those needs with your studies.