J-1 Student Off-campus Employment
United States law requires you to obtain written authorization before starting any type of employment or internship (e.g. paid or unpaid, or for credit or not for credit). Beginning work without authorization from your J-1 program Responsible Officer is a serious violation of your J-1 status.
Academic Training Overview
As a student in J-1 status, you may be eligible for Academic Training, an employment authorization granted to J-1 students. Academic Training offers a variety of employment options to supplement your academic program in the United States. It can be used during your academic program, and/or after you complete your studies. For further information, consult with the Responsible Officer in your Exchange Visitor Program Sponsor organization (the organization which issued your DS-2019). If your DS-2019 was issued by American University, please consult a Responsible Officer or Alternate Responsible Officer in International Student & Scholar Services (ISSS).
Process for credit internship (paid or unpaid)
Follow department procedure to register for credit bearing internship. ISSS will automatically be notified to process your Academic Training approval once you are registered for the internship. Do not begin your internship until after your Academic Training has been approved and you receive your new DS-2019 with employment authorization.
Process for non-credit Academic Training
- Get a letter from your employer that includes:
- Job title and responsibilities
- Name of supervisor
- Salary or wage if applicable (if requesting for after completion of your program of study, the position must be compensated)
- Beginning and ending dates of employment (if if requesting for after completion of your program of study, the work must begin within 30 days of completion of your program)
- Number of hours per week
- Get letter from your Academic Advisor, Faculty Advisor or Dean after discussion the job offer with them. The letter must include all of the following:
- Goals of the specific training program
- Description of the training program, including location, name and address of the training supervisor, number of hours per week, and beginning and ending dates
- How the training relates to and builds on what you have learned in your major field of study
- How the employment is an important aspect of your academic program
- How your training will be evaluated
- Submit both letters to ISSS office for review. A J-1 Responsible Officer will make a final determination if the job offered meets requirements for Academic Training.
- If Academic Training is approved a new DS-2019 with employment information will be issued within 5 business days. You will be notified when the new DS-2019 is ready to be picked up.
Do not begin work before receiving written authorization from ISSS.
Frequently Asked Questions
Who authorizes you for Academic Training work authorization?
- To participate in Academic Training, you must obtain written employment authorization from your Responsible Officer (the individual representing your program sponsor which issued your DS-2019). The Responsible Officer will review the proposed employment and determine if the employment is appropriate to your program of study.
Who is eligible for Academic Training work authorization?
To be eligible for Academic Training, J-1 students must demonstrate ALL of the following:
- Your primary purpose in the United States must be study, not employment.
- You must be in good academic standing at American University.
- Proposed employment must be directly related to your field of study.
- Throughout your studies and Academic Training you must maintain valid J-1 status, and apply for extensions as necessary.
- You must maintain health insurance coverage for yourself and all J-2 dependents throughout your program and Academic Training.
What document will show your work authorization?
- Your work authorization will be in the form of a new DS-2019, including specific dates and the employer name, from you J-1 program Responsible Officer. Do no begin to work before you receive the new DS-2019.
What is the length of Academic Training?
- Total Academic Training may not exceed the length of the course of study (for example, if your course of study is 10 months, your Academic Training may not exceed 10 months total)
- There is a maximum of 18 months of total Academic Training, even if your academic program is longer than 18 months.
How many hours per week can you work?
- Academic Training can be either part-time or full-time at any stage of student’s enrollment or after completion of the program of study.
- Part-time Academic Training is subtracted from the total eligible amount of Academic Training at the same rate as full-time Academic Training (i.e., a student who uses 4 months of part-time Academic Training will have 4 months deducted from the total number of months of Academic Training available).
At what point in your studies will you be eligible for Academic Training?
- Academic Training can be authorized during your program of study, after graduation, or a combination of both. Your J-1 program Responsible Officer will determine when you become eligible to begin Academic Training.
How can you obtain Academic Training after completion of studies?
- You must be authorized for post-completion Academic Training before your DS-2019 expiration date. After completion of your program it is too late to apply.
- Post completion academic training must be a paid one. You must show a minimum of $1600 per month to be eligible, of which a substantial amount must come from your academic training employment.
How do you obtain a Social Security Number?
- J-1 students will be required to show a Social Security number to work in the United States. If you do not already have a one, you will need to apply at the Social Security Administration. In order to apply for a Social Security number, J-1 students must show an employment letter and DS-2019 with Academic Training authorization. For more information, please see our Social Security page.
What do you need to know about taxes?
- Unless you qualify under a tax treaty between the United States and your home government, your earnings as a J-1 student will be subject to applicable federal, state, and local taxes. Employers are required by law to withhold these taxes from your paycheck. Income tax returns are filed every year by April 15th, for the previous year.
- In general, as a J-1 student you are exempt from Social Security (FICA) taxes for your first five years in the United States, as long as you declare non-resident status for tax purposes. Additional resources are available on our tax website.
What do you need to now if you are traveling?
- If you are completing your academic program and are planning a temporary trip outside the United States, you should apply for and receive authorization for Academic Training before you leave. If you do not obtain authorization before departing the United States, you may not be able to return on your J-1 visa.
- If you travel outside the US during your Academic Training, you should have a valid DS-2019, J-1 visa, passport, Academic Training authorization letter, and employer letter in order to re-enter the US. Please contact your J-1 program Responsible Officer to ask if you are recommended to bring additional documents based on your situation.