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Office of International Services
Teachers College, Columbia University
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Office of International Services

J-1 Visa Employment > J-1 Academic Training

J-1 Academic Training

Academic Training (AT) is employment integral to an J-1 student's academic program. Academic Training may occur during and/or after completion of studies. Such training may include--but is not limited to--internships, practicums, and field work, and may be part-time or full-time. Academic Training may also be authorized for paid or unpaid positions, although paid employment requires the prior authorization of the student's J-1 sponsor in all circumstances.

Authorization for Academic Training may be granted for a maximum of 18 months, inclusive of any prior academic training in the U.S. as an exchange visitor, or the period of time spent in the U.S. engaged in a full course of study, whichever is less.  For example, if you are in a twelve-month program, your period of AT is limited to 12 months as well. Additionally, part-time employment for AT counts against the 18-month limit the same as full-time.

Internships, practicums or field work which are a mandatory requirement for all students in your degree program are exempted from the 18-month limit.

Eligibility for Academic Training

Your primary purpose in the U.S. must be study rather than Academic Training. 

  1. You must be in good academic standing and have made acceptable progress toward your degree objective as indicated on your Form DS-2019
  2. You must have a written offer for training / employment, and the training must be integral to your degree objective as indicated on your Form DS-2019 
  3. Throughout your Academic Training period, you must have valid J-1 documents, including a valid passport, an unexpired Form DS-2019, and an I-94 card or an electronic I-94 annotated "J-1 D/S."
  4. You must maintain health insurance coverage for yourself and any J-2 dependents throughout your Academic Training.
  5. If you were subject to the two-year home residency requirement, you cannot apply for Academic Training if this requirement was waived prior to the anticipated start of your training period. Or, if the two-year home residency requirement is waived during the Academic Training period, you cannot get an extension of your Academic Training.

Academic Training Application Procedure

  1. Obtain a letter from your prospective employer that includes your (a) job title and a job description, (b) the beginning and ending dates of the proposed training, (c) the location / training site, (d) the number of hours per week, and (e) the name and address of your training supervisor. Make sure your employer's letter includes all of these details. If applying for post-completion Academic Training (academic training following completion of all degree requirements), your employment letter should also include salary information, if the training position is paid. 
  2. Give a copy of your employer's letter to your academic advisor. Your advisor must then write a letter to the Office of International Services recommending the Academic Training as consistent and integral to the degree objectives of your program. According to the regulations, your faculty advisor's letter must set forth:
    1. the goals and objectives of the specific training program;
    2. a description of the training (based on the letter provided by your prospective employer);
    3. how the training relates to your major field of study; and
    4. why it is an integral or critical part of your academic program.
  3. At least five to ten business days before you want to start working, bring your advisor's recommendation and a copy of your employer's letter to the OIS. If the training program is warranted and satisfies all the criteria established by the Department of State, you will be given a letter of authorization. You must obtain this written authorization before beginning employment.
  4. For Academic Training prior to completion of studies, full-time student status must be maintained during the fall/spring terms. If AT is fewer than 20 hours per week, registration for 12 points per term is required. When AT is more than 20 but less than 35 hours per week, you must register for at least 9 points to maintain your immigration status. AT of more than 35 hours per week, in conjunction with enrollment of 1 or more points, or enrollment as a masters or doctoral candidate, is considered full-time for the purpose of maintaining status. Be advised that each month that you engage in academic training will be deducted from the total number of months allotted to you, irrespective of the number of hours per week that you work.
  5. For Academic Training following completion of your program, you must have a firm offer of employment in order to apply for AT, and you must apply for authorization not later than 30 days following completion of studies (employment itself may begin later). Completion of studies is defined as the date on which all requirements for the program and degree objective as indicated on your Form DS-2019 have been met, not when the degree is actually conferred. For doctoral programs, completion is usually defined as the dissertation defense date, or a short time later if there are necessary revisions to be made.

Special note for students applying for Academic Training following completion of studies: if you are applying for post-completion Academic Training, you must also provide financial documents verifying adequate funds to meet your (and your dependent's) living expenses if your training position is unpaid or does not provide sufficient funds to meet your living expenses. 

You may begin Academic Training employment as of the date it is authorized by the OIS, provided your DS-2019 continues to be valid. You will use the OIS's authorization letter, your passport, your Form DS-2019, and your I-94 card to show your employer that academic training has been authorized.

Further Information on Academic Training

  1. J-1 students who complete a doctoral degree are eligible for 18 months of Academic Training both during and after completion of studies. However, doctoral students who obtain a job offer for "post-doctoral" positions may request authorization for an additional 18 months beyond the initial 18 months, for a maximum of 36 months.
  2. J-1 students may be authorized for multiple Academic Training positions simultaneously, but must submit a job offer and advisor's letter for each position.
  3. If you are on post-completion Academic Training, you have thirty (30) days to prepare for departure from the U.S. once your Academic Training period comes to an end.

 

Office of International Services
Teachers College, Columbia University
Box 7, 525 W 120th Street
New York, New York 10027-6696
Phone: (212) 678-3939 ♦ ~ Fax: (212) 678-3990 ♦ Email: