Academic Training for J-1 Students

Academic Training (AT) is employment authorization allowing J-1 students to gain practical experience that is directly related to their academic program of study. AT may include, but is not limited to, internships, practicum, cooperative education, and other types of practical experience gained through off-campus employment.

  • AT may be authorized before the completion of an academic program, but it is generally used after the completion of an academic program. AT done prior to program completion is deducted from the total amount available upon completion.
  • AT is awarded on a full-time basis—part-time employment is not deducted at a half-time rate.
  • You must receive authorization from the IO before beginning employment.

Please note that the Post-Completion OPT carries additional visa restrictions and reporting requirements. Review these restrictions and requirements.

Conditions of AT

  • Undergraduate and graduate students are eligible for up to eighteen months of AT.
  • Any student (graduate or undergraduate) in a program less-than eighteen months may be eligible for a period of AT equivalent to the length time spent in a full-time course of study in the U.S. (i.e. a nine month academic program equates to nine months of AT.)
  • Doctoral students are eligible for two 18-month periods of AT. However; the second period is only awarded once the PhD has been completed.
  • A student must apply for AT prior to the expiration of the DS-2019 or prior to the completion of the academic program, whichever is earlier.
  • It is the responsibility of the student to maintain a valid DS-2019 for the duration of the AT period. If an extension is needed, contact the IO. Plan ahead!
  • Post-Completion AT must be paid employment, or you must provide proof of sufficient funds to support yourself during the training period.
  • Your authorized period of academic training will begin on the day after you complete your studies, whether or not you begin working on this day.

Are you eligible?

  • Student must be in good academic standing.
  • Student must be maintaining J-1 status (including maintaining adequate health insurance, as stipulated by the U.S. Dept of State—see p. 2 of Form DS-2019).
  • AT employment must be directly related to academic program of study.
  • Student must have an offer of employment.

How to apply

1. Obtain an offer letter from your prospective employer.

The letter must include all of the following: (Sample Employment Offer Letter)

  • Job title
  • Brief description of employment
  • Start and end dates of employment
  • Address of location of employment
  • Salary
  • Number of hours to be worked per week
  • Name, address, phone number, and e-mail of direct supervisor

2. Complete Academic Advisor's Recommendation Form to your Academic Advisor

Download the form (available online) and give to your Academic Advisor for approval. 

3. Submit required materials to the IO

Submit both the employment letter and Academic Advisor Recommendation Form to the IO during walk-in advising hours.

Your international student advisor at the IO will evaluate and authorize your period of requested AT. Once authorized, you will receive a new DS-2019 (with AT information included).

When to Apply?

Students applying for pre-completion AT must apply prior to the start-date of their employment. Any student working off-campus before receiving authorization is in violation of their immigration status. All applications for AT require an offer letter and a completed application in order to be authorized.

  • A student must apply for AT before the expiration date listed on the DS-2019 or prior to the completion of the academic program, whichever is earlier.
  • Once all application materials are completed, they should be submitted to the International Office during walk-in advising hours.
  • Completed applications generally require 3-4 days to process. Plan ahead!

NOTE: PhD students who have completed their programs, and who are currently working in the first 18-month period of AT should apply for the second period of 18-months at least 30-days prior to the end-date of the first 18-month period.

Additional requirements

Travel

  • Travel outside the U.S. before the completion of the academic program at Northwestern requires a valid passport (six-months into the future), valid J-1 visa stamp, and valid DS-2019.
  • Travel outside the U.S. after completion of the academic program requires a completed AT application and approval prior to departure. Plan ahead and contact the IO if you require assistance.

Responding to changes in employment

If you wish to change your job/employer, you must complete the entire application procedures outlined above, prior to terminating the already authorized employment, and before beginning the new employment.

If your employment is terminated unexpectedly, your authorization is terminated as well. In this instance, you are required to either leave the U.S. or change your status within 30-days of termination.

Consult the IO immediately if there are changes in your employment or for any additional questions.