Spouses and unmarried children up to the age of 21 qualify for dependent status of a J-1 exchange visitor. Dependents carry J-2 status.
J-2 dependents of J-1 exchange visitors who are subject to the two year home residency requirement are also subject to the two year home residency requirement.
J-2 dependents are also subject to the 12 month bar from becoming J-1 professors or research scholars if they have been in the U.S. for 6 months in the previous 12 months.
Dependents cannot work but are eligible to apply to the United States Citizenship & Immigration Service for work permission/employment authorization. More information about J-2 Work Authorization.