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J1 Academic Training

For J1 students, practical training is called “Academic Training.” It is practical work experience in the student’s field of study and can be authorized in several different circumstances:

  • AT may be paid or unpaid.
  • AT may involve sequential or simultaneous activities with more than one employer.
  • AT may involve activity with U.S. and/or foreign employers.
  • AT may involve part-time or full-time activity, or a combination of the two.
  • Participation in AT may be authorized during studies or commencing not later than 30 days after completion of studies, or a combination of the two.

Eligibility requirements include the following:

  • You must be in good academic standing.
  • You must be in legal J1 status.
  • You must be in the U.S. primarily to study, not to engage in practical training.
  • The AT must be directly related to your field of study listed on your DS-2019.
  • You must obtain written approval in advance for AT, specifying duration, type, and location of the activity and the name and address of the employer.
  • For AT after program completion, the activity must be authorized before 30 days have elapsed since the end of the program.

The normal time limit for AT after completing a degree program is 18 months, but AT may be extended another 18 months in some cases for a person who has completed the Ph.D. All days of authorized AT time, whether for part-time or full-time activity, and whether used before and/or after degree completion, are counted in the 18-month (or, for some Ph.D.’s, 36-month) limit. Part-time AT is counted as full-time. For example, a B.S. student who uses four months of part-time AT during one semester and two months of full-time AT each summer for three summers has used a total of 10 months (four plus six) of AT before degree completion; he therefore has only eight months of remaining AT eligibility after completing studies.

The total length of time spent in AT cannot exceed the time you spend in study. For example, if your study program lasts four months, your AT cannot exceed four months. For non-degree students (exchange students, for example), your total time in the United States cannot exceed 24 months. Therefore, the maximum time in AT for a non-degree student is 12 months (12 months of study plus 12 months of AT equal the maximum stay of 24 months).

Procedures for obtaining AT authorization:

  • Your academic advisor must write a letter which describes the training program (employer, location, name and address of the training supervisor, hours per week, and dates of the activity);
  • sets forth the goals and objectives of this program;
  • describes how this training relates to your major field of study; and
  • tells why this training is an integral or critical part of your academic program.

This letter and your records are then evaluated by the Director of Student Services. If all is acceptable, SEVIS will be updated and you will be issued an official letter authorizing Academic Training for that employer for a specific period of time. Show this letter plus your current DS-2019 and I-94 to the employer to establish your employability. No further authorization or government action is required.

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