J-1 Student Employment: Academic Training
United States law requires you to obtain written authorization before starting any type of compensated employment or uncompensated (unpaid) internship for credit. Beginning work without appropriate authorization from your J-1 program sponsor (the organization which issued your DS-2019) is a serious violation of your J-1 status.
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).
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:
1. Your primary purpose in the United States must be study, not employment.
2. You must be in good academic standing at American University.
3. Proposed employment must be directly related to your field of study.
4. Throughout your studies and Academic Training you must maintain valid J-1 status, and apply for
extensions as necessary.
5. 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 and a letter authorizing your Academic Training (including specific dates and the employer) from you J-1 program Responsible Officer. Do no begin to work before you receive these documents.
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 (for example, 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 letter of work authorization from their Exchange Visitor Program sponsor. 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.
- 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.