Academic Training (AT)

AT Overview

Academic Training (AT)  is an off-campus authorization that allows J-1 students to work in jobs and internships that are directly related to their degree programs. AT can be used during or after the J-1 program and is employer and date specific. The application is approved through OIA (not a government agency) and takes about one week for approval.

NOTE about outside sponsorship: If your DS-2019 is not issued by our office (for example, if you are a Fulbright and your DS-2019 is issued by the Institute of International Education/IIE), these instructions do not apply to you. You will have to consult your agency sponsor for their specific AT application process and rules.

General Guidelines & Working on AT

You must receive approval in advance from OIA before beginning the employment.  Your AT approval will be printed on a new DS-2019, which OIA will provide after you submit your AT application.  You can begin working on AT only after the work authorization has been approved and the AT start date listed on your DS-2019 has been reached.

AT is employer and date specific, which means you can only work for the company listed and only during the approved dates.  Anything outside of that employer or set of dates would require a separate, complete application.

Throughout your AT you must maintain permission to stay in the U.S. in J-1 student status and must apply for extensions as necessary. You must also maintain the required health insurance for yourself and your J-2 dependents for the duration of the J-1 status.

AT is available before completion of your program of study as well as afterwards. While you are a student, the allowed hours per week and duration of the training are determined by your academic dean or adviser.

AT and The 212(e) Two-Year Home Residency Requirement

Students in J-1 status who have applied for and been approved a waiver of the 212(e) home country physical presence requirement are not eligible to apply for Academic Training or any kind of DS-2019 extension. If you are thinking about applying for a waiver, make sure to do so after you have already applied for any AT time you want to use.  Contact your OIA adviser for more information.

Types of Employment Allowed on AT

As long as each position is directly related to your studies, essentially all kinds of employment situations are allowed while on AT, including: big or small companies, start-ups, internships, temporary work, full-time, post-doc, hourly, salaried, unconventional hours,  non-profit, for-profit, self-employment, NGO or other employment situations.

It is possible to have multiple employers at the same time, but each period of employment must be approved in advance of you beginning the work. A complete AT application is required for each employer.

Unpaid employment: USCIS has stipulated that you should be paid for jobs done while on AT.  If you are going to work on an unpaid internship for post-completion AT, you will be asked to provide financial documents showing you can pay for your living expenses for the duration of the extension.

 

AT Eligibility Requirements

To be eligible for apply for AT with OIA, you must meet the following criteria:

  • You are in J-1 status and your DS-2019 was issued by UChicago and not an outside agency (such as Fulbright)
  • Your primary purpose in the U.S. must be to study rather than engage in Academic Training.
  • You are in good academic standing 
  • You have a job offer and your employer can provide an AT employer letter (template linked below)
  • The proposed employment is directly related to your degree/major field of study.
  • Your academic department approves of your proposed employment and can provide a departmental support letter (template linked below).
  • Your DS-2019 end date must not have passed
  • You have not been granted a waiver of the 212(e) home residency requirement.

 

Time Limitations While on AT

  • Bachelor's and master's students are eligible for AT up to 18 months or the length of your program, whichever is shorter (i.e. 9 month program = 9 months of AT eligibility).
  • Doctoral students are eligible for 18 months, plus an additional 18 months following degree conferral, for a total of 36 possible months. However, AT at the PhD level cannot exceed the total time in program.
  • Exchange students are eligible for AT corresponding to the amount of time in the program (i.e. 90 days study = 90 days AT eligibility).
  • Part-time employment counts against the AT limits the same as full-time employment.
  • Earning more than one degree does not increase your eligibility for AT.
  • The time limitations for AT are calculated for your total time in your program, not necessarily your total time in J-1 status.

 

After Completed Your Program (Post-Completion)

You can use AT during or after your academic program.  AT used after your program end date is called post-completion academic training.  There are a few things to keep in mind for post-completion AT:

  • AT approved after completion of your program must be reduced by any prior periods of AT previously used. For example, if you use 3 months for a summer internship and are in a bachelor's program, you will have 15 months left to use after graduation (assuming that you have been in J-1 status for at least that length of time).
  • You must be paid. AT after completion of your program of study must be remunerated, i.e. you must receive a salary or other compensation for your services.  If this will not be the case in your situation, please contact OIA to discuss other ways to prove financial ability to remain in the U.S. while on AT.
  • You must have post-completion AT approved no later than the program end date listed on your DS-2010, or you will lose eligibility for AT. If this will not be possible, please contact your OIA adviser well in advance of your program end date for guidance. 

AT Timeline_0.PNG

  • Apply at least 7-10 days before your job is supposed to start.  We typically cannot approve AT more than 2 months in advance of the work start date. 
  • The AT authorization start date must be no more than 30 days after your program end date.  It is OK if your actual job starts shortly after the AT start date, but the latest date your AT authorization can begin is 30 days after your DS-2019 end date.
  • All J-1 students on AT after completion of their program are required to report any address change within 10 days to OIA.  To make these updates, please complete the following online form: Post-Completion AT Information Update Form

 

Completing the AT Application

Submit the following documents to OIA at least one week before you would like your new DS-2019. You do not need to see an adviser unless you have specific questions. If you would like to meet with an adviser, you must schedule an appointment in advance; advisers are not generally available on a walk-in basis.

IMPORTANT: AT approval takes one week in our office and longer if you are missing documents or the documents do not meet the requirements. Please plan ahead; we cannot accommodate expedite requests.

Choose one of the following ways to submit your application:

  1. Drop off all three documents listed below in hard copy at the OIA front desk.  You can drop them off on a walk-in basis and no appointment is necessary.
    -OR-
  2. Upload the documents to the Online Request for J-1 Academic Training form. In this case, you do not need to come to OIA to submit your application.

Please only use one method to submit your application.  Submitting both an online and hardcopy application will delay your application.

DOCUMENTS NEEDED:

  1. AT Employment Letter Template: This is not your job offer letter! Your employer letter must contain ALL information listed on the template above. In almost all cases, offer letters will not suffice for AT application purposes.  If you are going to submit an offer letter, please highlight where all of the required information is on the letter.  Submission of an insufficient employer letter will significantly delay your application processing.  We highly recommend using the AT Employment Letter template linked above.

     This letter must be on letterhead stationery and signed by your prospective employer. It must including ALL of the following information:

    • Your full, legal name
    • Your job title
    • The goals and objectives of the training
    • The precise beginning and ending dates of employment
    • The number of hours per week you will be working
    • Name and address of your training supervisor
    • Full street address/location of employment
    • Salary/remuneration information, if employment will occur after the completion of your program. 

      NOTE: If you submit your offer letter (instead of our template), please highlight or underline the location of all of the required information outlined above. 
  2. Academic Adviser's Recommendation Form: Providing a copy of your employer's letter (see #1) to your academic adviser or dean will assist them in completing this form.
  3. Academic Training Request Form (for hardcopy applications only):
  • Mark that you are applying for J-1 AT
  • Be sure to fill in the work authorization start and end dates (should be the same dates as on your employer letter and academic adviser's recommendation form)
  • Required for hard copy submission only; not required if you are uploading through the online application form

Once we receive your application, an OIA adviser will review your AT request and decide whether it is warranted and appropriate. If so, you will receive an email indicating that an updated DS-2019 showing the AT authorization is ready to pick up at OIA. It will take one week for processing. If the adviser has any questions about your application, you will receive and email notification.