J-1 Academic Training
J-1 Academic Training (AT) is off-campus employment directly related to a student’s field of study (22. C.F.R. § 62.23 (f)). Appropriate activities may vary over disciplines. AT can involve sequential or simultaneous activities, either paid or unpaid, with multiple employers, provided the application approval procedures are followed for each employer and activity, and the time limits are not exceeded. Example: A graduate J-1 student with Master’s Degree in Accounting is employed as an Accountant with a legal business following completion of studies.
A student on a J-1 Visa is eligible to apply for Academic Training (AT) if the student meets the following general conditions:
- The student is in good academic standing.
- The student is primarily in the United States (U.S.) to study rather than engage in AT.
- The student is participating in AT that is directly related to his or her major field of study as indicated on his or her Form DS-2019.
- The student receives written approval in advance from ISSS for the duration of the type of AT.
- AT can only be authorized by the J-1 program sponsor (GSU, Department of State, Fulbright, USAID, etc.).
Students applying for AT must submit their AT application and supporting materials at least two weeks before his or her program completion date on their Form DS-2019. AT must be approved prior to the expiration of the program completion date to be eligible for employment. In order to apply for AT, the student must submit the following documents:
- Academic Training (AT) Application Form completed by Academic Advisor, Exchange Program Coordinator, Department Head, or Dean.
- A job offer letter from the student’s prospective employer on original letterhead which specifies in the body of the letter the following information: salary, location (street address) of employment, full name of supervisor and contact email and phone number, description of training program, beginning and ending dates of employment, and number of hours per week. The letter must be signed and dated by prospective employer. If student will be telecommuting (working at home), the employment letter must note the physical address of the student’s work, which would be the student’s home address.
- An original bank certification letter showing the student’s financial sponsor can cover the cost of living expenses for the period of the requested AT. If the student’s salary is outlined in the job offer letter and covers the amount of estimated living expenses for the period of AT, no financial bank certification letter is needed. All funding must be in liquid form such as a checking or savings account.
- Once the student complete AT, you must complete the online Academic Training (AT) Evaluation.
The amount of time a student is eligible for AT depends on the type of study (non-degree or degree seeking) and length of his or her period of study. AT time limitations are cumulative, meaning that any AT conducted prior to completion of study will be deducted from the maximum allowable time. Only the months remaining may be used following the completion of the degree.
- Non-degree seeking: AT may be authorized for the same amount of time the student spent studying (a maximum of 12 months) after the completion of the J-1 program. Example: A student on a one semester exchange may only apply for one semester of AT. Non-degree students are limited to a total stay in the U.S. of 24 months, including all study time plus any authorized AT.
- Degree-seeking: AT cannot be authorized for a period longer than the total period of study for the undergraduate, masters, or doctoral degree levels. The maximum duration of any AT segment is 18 months, unless the student’s period of study is less than 18 months. Examples: (1) An accounting undergraduate student who studied at GSU for 3 years (24 months) and completed his or her degree is only eligible for 18 months total of AT (2) A masters student in marketing who completes his or her degree in 12 months is only eligible for 12 months of AT.
- Exception to 18 month rule: An exception to this limitation allows additional time beyond 18 months to the extent necessary for the exchange visitor to satisfy the mandatory requirements of his or her degree program in the United States. Example: a masters in social work or psychology might require a period of supervised training for longer than 18 months as a condition of obtaining the degree. If more than 18 months of AT is required for a student’s degree program, the student must submit a copy of the current undergraduate or graduate catalog listing the requirement and submit an original, signed letter from his academic advisor detailing this requirement. Non-degree seeking students are not eligible for this exception.
- Ph.D. students who have been offered an established post-doctoral position may be authorized for two 18 month increments of AT, for a total of 36 months), inclusive of prior periods of training. However, AT can only be authorized for 18 month increments. Any additional period of training beyond the first 18 months, must be authorized in advanced by submitting a new AT application prior to the expiration of the student’s Form DS-2019.
Start and End Dates of AT
- The student must present a firm written offer of employment before his or her program completion date on Form DS-2019 for post-completion AT. ISSS recommends the employment begin within 30 days of the program completion date. Employment may begin more than 30 days after the program completion date; however, the time between the program completion date and the employment start date will be deducted from the total 18-month eligibility for AT. Therefore, students who delay the actual start date of employment will lose academic training time.
- A student who wants to extend or add a new segment of AT must submit a new AT application prior to the expiration of his or her Form DS-2019. For extensions or new segments of AT, ISSS recommends the employment begins within 30 days of the previous AT experience. The new employment may begin more than 30 days after the last AT end date; however, the time between the student’s program completion date and the employment start date will be deducted from the total 18-month eligibility for AT. Therefore, students who delay the actual start date of employment will lose academic training time.
Full Time and Part Time AT
Full Time employment is considered (20) hours or more per week. Part time employment is considered (20) hours or less per week.
Students may engage only in part time employment during the fall and spring semesters or while engaging in full time study (12 credit hours or more for undergraduates; 9 credit hours or more for graduates). Full Time AT is permitted during official school breaks, annual vacation time, and after completion of the student’s program of study or exchange program objective.
Exception: A student may engage in full-time AT before completion of his or her program of study, if full time employment is a requirement of the program of study or exchange program objective. To obtain this exception, a student must submit an original, signed letter from his academic advisor with the AT application detailing this requirement.
AT authorization is at the sole discretion of ISSS and will be decided on a case-by-case basis. If approved, AT authorization will be noted in Section 5 of the student’s Form DS-2019. No employment authorization document from USCIS is needed.