There are options but each should be reviewed carefully as once you seek it and it is approved you will be required to maintain status. If you apply for F visa, you will be required to take classes and option to work is available after completion of certain credits. CPT could be restricted to the courses you will take. Talk to the DSO and be informed before you apply.
This response is general in nature and cannot be construed as legal advice, given that not enough facts are known. Any comments offered on Avvo are of a general nature only, and are not meant to create an attorney-client relationship. If you would like additional information based on this response, please contact my office at 510 657 7665 or 415 902 0832 to schedule a consultation.
I agree with my colleague ... none of your options will be as 'good' as the L-2/EAD.
PROFESSOR OF IMMIGRATION LAW for over 10 years -- This blog posting is offered for informational purposes only. It does not constitute an attorney-client relationship. Also, keep in mind that this is an INTERNET BLOG. You should not rely on anything you read here to make decisions which impact on your life. Meet with an attorney, via Skype, or in person, to obtain competent personal and professional guidance.
Neither the J or F visa are "work visas." The F visa allows you to work once you reach OPT (after you have completed your studies) but *only* if your program of study meets necessary requirements. Ability to work during your studies on the F visa is very limited - usually only part time on campus jobs are allowed.
J visas can be restrictive (and limit your options in the future) and for that reason we advise our clients to get on an F1 if at all possible.
It sounds like you need to research your options more thoroughly before making a decision. You should speak to the attorney handling your husband's O1 about these options since they know your situation in more detail. You should also talk to the international students center at the school you are considering to find out exactly what the student visa limitations will be.