Academic training (AT) is employment or training, paid or unpaid, specifically in your field of study and as an essential and integral part of your academic program in the United States. Not all program or financial sponsors allow academic training. Students in J-1 status must consult with their funding agency and immigration sponsor listed in box 2 of the DS-2019 form regarding the possibility of pursuing academic training and the procedures for obtaining authorization. Exchange students will also need to ask their home university if post-completion training will be permitted.
Academic Training is a type of authorization that is used for employment, training, internships (with or without pay, required or not), collaborative research, college/university teaching, contract work or consulting with a specific employer. Self-employment is not an option. Assistantships are approved under on-campus employment authorization, not academic training.
Academic Training must be specifically related to the field of study for which the DS-2019 form was issued, recommended by the student’s primary academic advisor at FSU, and approved in writing by the program sponsor listed in box 2 of the DS-2019 form. Because the training must be an integral part of the academic training, a general university academic advising job may be relevant academic training for someone obtaining a degree in Higher Education, but it would not be approved for someone obtaining a doctoral degree in Geography, for instance.
There are some restrictions for anyone in a university/college J-1 program:
- J-1 students may not be employed in a position that will require any pre-kindergarten through 12th grade activities of any kind.
- J-1 students may not be employed in any position that will require clinical counseling, therapy, child care, elder care, social work, or medical care.
Academic Training does not need to be a paid opportunity, but those engaging in post-completion academic training will need to have both sufficient personal funds to support themselves and their J-2 dependents and continuous insurance that meets or exceeds the J visa regulations.
Students may engage in Academic Training:
(a) Before completion of the program of study - part-time (20 hours/week) while classes are in session, full-time during official breaks and holidays in the academic calendar, and
(b) Within 30 days after completion of the program of study (full-time or part-time) without any gaps for unemployment, switching employers, or job searching.
Students may engage in AT for 18 months or the equivalent length of the program of study, whichever is shorter. The 18 months can be divided into various increments during and after a student's degree program(s), but all training - full or part-time - is counted toward the overall total throughout the student's academic career. The 18 months is a cumulative total throughout the academic program, not per degree program.
An additional 18-month extension may be possible for post-doctoral training, available only after graduation from the doctoral degree. No other types of extensions are possible.
Academic Training is employer/trainer specific. The program sponsor approves academic training based upon a specific recommendation letter from the student's academic advisor, indicating the dates of training, duties, supervisor, supervisor's contact information, location of training, and why the training is integral to the academic program. This detailed information is entered into the student's permanent SEVIS record. Therefore, Academic Training is not transferable to alternate employment/training. Students must obtain specific written authorization from the program sponsor indicated in box 2 of the DS-2019 form for each training opportunity. Multiple, simultaneous academic training opportunities with more than one employer are a possibility, as long as each is approved by the program sponsor.
Students can identify internship, employment, and training opportunities through the FSU Career Center – www.career.fsu.edu, networking and interviewing at professional conferences, through professional organizations’ job postings, and through the recommendations of their academic advisors and/or other faculty working in their specific area of interest. Opportunities are also advertised in more general sources like the Chronicle of Higher Education or H-Net.
Each J-1 program sponsor will have their own procedures for requesting academic training authorization. Many scholarships restrict the time permitted for academic training or may not permit it at all. So, it is important to check on restrictions, procedures, and timelines with the program sponsor listed in box 2 of the DS-2019 form before job searching and as early as possible.
If the program sponsor in box 2 of your DS-2019 form is Florida State University, the required academic advisor recommendation. Here are the recommended steps:
- Apply for positions, training, or internships that are specifically related to your field of study and are not restricted in some way (see restrictions in the What? section above);
- Before accepting an offer, ask for the offer in writing detailing the fields that your academic advisor will need to include in the recommendation letter at the link above and notify the employer that it will take about 4 weeks for you to respond, due to the approval process below;
- Provide the detailed offer letter to your academic advisor for their review and completion of the recommendation letter at the link above;
- Provide both the offer letter and the recommendation letter to your immigration advisor at the CGE, allowing at least 2 weeks for processing;
- Provide the academic training approval and your acceptance of the offer to your employer; and
- Keep the written training approval, DS-2019 form showing the training, and all previous DS-2019 forms in your permanent records, in case you need to apply for another immigration status in the future.
Students can lose their remaining academic training time in these situations:
- No academic training opportunity starting within 30 days of graduation;
- Quitting or losing a job without having another approved academic training opportunity starting immediately or approved concurrently;
- Receiving U.S. State Department approval of a waiver of the two-year residence requirement before receiving the last possible J-1 extension;
- Violating J-1 regulations, such as failing to report an address change within 10 days or failing to maintain continuous insurance coverage; or
- Being convicted of a crime, including driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.