Academic Training is the name the U.S. Department of State uses for certain types of study-related employment for students in J-1 status. Academic Training is flexible in its format and offers a variety of employment situations to supplement your academic program in the United States. It is available before completion of your program of study as well as afterwards. As long as you stay within the stipulated time limits, it lets you work part-time while classes are in session and full-time during vacation periods; and, under certain circumstances, you may interrupt study to work full-time, for example while you are writing a thesis. J-1 students in non-degree programs are eligible for Academic Training.
To qualify for Academic Training, you must first obtain approval in writing from your J-1 Responsible Officer, who represents your J-1 sponsor and issues your Forms DS-2019. Scott Manning, Ph.D., the director of cross-cultural and study-away programs, is the J-1 Responsible Officer at Susquehanna. He must evaluate the proposed employment in terms of your program of study and your individual circumstances, and then decide whether it would be appropriate or not.
- Your primary purpose in the U.S. must be study rather than Academic Training.
- You must be in good academic standing at Susquehanna University.
- The proposed employment must be directly related to your major field of study.
- Throughout your Academic Training you must maintain permission to stay in the U.S., in J-1 student status, and apply for extensions as necessary.
- You must maintain health insurance coverage for yourself and any J-2 dependents throughout your Academic Training.
Your employment may be authorized for "the length of time necessary to complete the goals and objectives of the training, provided that the amount of time . . . is approved by [both] the academic dean or advisor and . . . the responsible officer," to quote the regulations. It may not exceed "the period of full course of study" or 18 months, whichever is shorter.
Part-time employment for Academic Training counts against the 18- or 36-month limit the same as full-time employment.
Earning more than one degree does not increase your eligibility for Academic Training.
Academic Training approved after completion of your program must be reduced by any prior periods of Academic Training. Academic Training following completion of your program of study must involve paid employment.
Whether the other items in the application are ready yet or not, you must obtain a written offer of appropriate employment and present a copy to your J-1 Responsible Officer no later than 30 days after the end of your program, or you will lose eligibility for Academic Training after completion. Your DS-2019 must remain valid during the 30-day period after you complete your studies if you plan to pursue Academic Training. If your DS-2019 will expire before the end of the 30-day grace period, request an extension for the grace period so that there is no gap in extensions on your DS-2019 form.
If you plan to leave the United States after you complete your program of study and reenter the country for J-1 Academic Training, you must obtain employment authorization before you leave. Otherwise you will have trouble reentering. Consult your J-1 Responsible Officer for advice before traveling.
Obtain a letter of offer from your prospective employer that includes your job title, a brief description of the "goals and objectives" of your Academic Training (your employment), the dates and location of the employment, the number of hours per week, and the name and address of your supervisor. Include the salary for the period of employment. Make sure that your employer's letter includes all of these details.
Give a copy of your employer's letter to your academic adviser or dean for use in writing to your J-1 Responsible Officer recommending the Academic Training. According to the text of the federal regulations, your adviser's letter must set forth:
- The goals and objectives of the specific training program
- A description of the training program, including its location, the name and address of the training supervisor, number of hours scheduled per week, and dates of the training
- How the training relates to the student's major field of study
- Why it is an integral or critical part of the academic program of the exchange visitor student.
Your adviser must also approve your Academic Training for the length of time necessary to complete the goals and objectives of the training."
When your academic adviser's recommendation is ready, you should deliver or send it to your J-1 Responsible Officer, with a copy of the employer's letter attached. Your J-1 Responsible Officer must evaluate the Academic Training program and decide whether it is warranted and appropriate. If so, he will write you a letter of approval.
A Social Security Number
To put you on the payroll, you will need to provide a Social Security Number, which you can obtain by applying for a Social Security card. Take your passport (if you are Canadian you may use another form of photo-bearing identification), I-94 Departure Record card, the pink copy of your Form DS-2019, and your J-1 Responsible Officer's written work authorization to an office of the Social Security Administration.
Form I-9: Employment Eligibility Verification
When you begin work, you and your employer must complete Form I-9, which requires you to document your identity and work authorization according to directions on the back of the form.
Of the various items acceptable as documentation, you may find that the most convenient combination is your passport (or other photo-bearing identification if you are Canadian), I-94 Departure Record card, the pink copy of Form DS-2019, and your J-1 Responsible Officer's written work authorization. Your employer, who keeps Form I-9, will make copies of the documents you submit, and return the originals to you. Form I-9 must be updated any time that you receive a renewal of your permission for Academic Training.