United States law requires you to obtain written authorization before starting any type of employment. Even if the work will not be paid, you may be required to have authorization. Beginning work without authorization from your J-1 program Responsible Officer is a serious violation of your J-1 status.
As a scholar with J-1 status, you may be eligible to work in the United States during your time at AU. REMEMBER: you need written permission from your J-1 program Responsible Officer, and you cannot start work before first obtaining this written authorization.
If you have J-2 status dependents, they may be also eligible to legally work while in the United States. For more thorough information on that subject, find the link below.
Below are brief summaries of the definition of work and the different types of work for which you may qualify. As always, feel free to contact us and talk with one of our advisors for more information.
WHAT IS COMPENSATED EMPLOYMENT?
According to the USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services) definition, compensated employment means work performed in exchange for a benefit. Employment authorization is necessary for work under any of the following circumstances:
If you receive a salary, hourly wage, fees, books, supplies, transportation, or any other benefit in exchange for work.
If the individual normally holding your position receives payment.
WHAT ABOUT UNPAID OPPORTUNITIES?
It is important to understand whether the Department of Labor would view an unpaid opportunity as work that requires work authorization, before accepting an offer. Please see the following handout for additional information: Volunteering in the United States handout