Academic Training (AT) for J-1 students is intended to provide practical work experience that complements the academic program. The training must be an integral part of the student’s academic goals and may be undertaken before or after completion of studies.

To qualify for AT, the student must first obtain written approval from a Responsible Officer (RO) who represents their J-1 program sponsor and issues the student’s Form DS-2019.  The RO must evaluate the proposed employment in terms of the student’s program of study and individual circumstances, and then decide whether or not it would be appropriate.  If approved, the student will be issued a new Form DS-2019 with Academic Training approval and an Academic Training authorization letter.

Eligibility Requirements

  • The student’s primary purpose in the United States must be to study rather than to pursue Academic Training or other employment.
  • The student must be in good academic standing at the school named on the Form DS-2019
  • The proposed employment must be directly related to the student’s major field of study as indicated in the subject fields of the DS-2019
  • Throughout the AT period, the student must maintain permission to stay in the U.S. in J-1 student status and apply for extensions as necessary.
  • The student must maintain health insurance coverage, as required in  U.S. Department of State (DOS) regulations, for themselves and all J-2 dependents through the period of AT.
  • The student must receive a new DS-2019 and AT authorization letter in advance from the RO for the duration and type of AT
  • J-1 students are eligible for up to eighteen months of AT throughout their J-1 status. However, the total training period may not exceed the amount of time spent in the full course of study. AT can be authorized part-time while classes are in session or full-time during vacation periods.  Part-time and full-time AT authorization count against the 18-month limit at the same rate. AT can be used before or after completion of studies.
  • Earning more than one degree does not increase your eligibility for AT. If students use up all eighteen months after obtaining a bachelor’s degree, they will not have any eligibility for AT during or after a graduate program. An additional eighteen months may be possible for those in a “Post-doctoral” research position at a university.
  •  For post-completion academic training, employment must begin within 30 days of the completion of studies.
  • Students who want to apply for post-completion AT should submit the application materials to the RO or ARO of their J-1 program sponsor at least 3 weeks prior to the end of the program.
 

Application Process

When to Apply

We recommend that students submit completed applications to ISSS as early as possible, at least 2-3 weeks in advance of the employment start date (if Pre-completion) or 2-3 weeks prior to the completion of studies date (if post-completion). Students may not begin employment until the AT has been approved in SEVIS and a new DS-2019 has been issued.

Students who are completing their studies must receive approval of the AT application prior to the date of completion (last day of the final exam period as listed on the University’s academic calendar), or eligibility for AT will be lost.

Submit completed application to ISSS

Students may submit their application to the front desk at ISSS, to an advisor during walk-in advising hours, or via email to isss@unc.edu. Once submitted, ISSS requests 2-3 weeks processing time, and if approved, will issue the student a new DS-2019 with AT authorization and an AT authorization letter. The student will be contacted via email once the document is ready and will be expected to come to ISSS to sign the new DS-2019.

Final Evaluation

Once a student has concluded their Academic Training experience, the student is required to submit a completed Academic Training Evaluation Form to ISSS within one week of ending their training experience.  The student’s employer must complete and sign their portion of the form, and return the form to the student within 3 days of the end of the Academic Training experience.  The student will need to have their Academic Advisor or the Director of Undergraduate/Graduate Studies complete the Academic Department section and sign the form before submitting the completed document to ISSS. 

Maintenance of Status

  • Reporting Requirements: The Department of State (DOS) requires students to report changes in name or address to ISSS throughout a student’s stay in J-1 status, including periods of AT.  Failure to report these changes within 10 days of the change could be considered a violation of  J-1 immigration status.
  • All updates to your residential address should be reported through ConnectCarolina under “SEVIS Immigration Reporting Address”. For instructions on how to update this address, please see our Address update instructions. Also, at this time you must email isss@unc.edu with your address changes as well.
  • Updates to Employment: AT is authorized for a specific time period, job, number of hours per week, salary, and employer, as specified on the DS-2019 after authorization. Any changes to the details listed above must be approved in advance by ISSS.
  • Health Insurance Coverage: J-1 students and any J-2 dependents on the record, must maintain health insurance coverage for the entire length of their program, as listed on the Forms DS-2019.  This includes any time spent doing post-completion Academic Training.  Health insurance must meet the requirements set forth by the U.S. Department of State (DOS).
  • Beginning a new program of study: Authorization for AT is automatically terminated if the student officially transfers to another school or begins study at another educational level.
  • 30-Day Grace Period: Once students have completed their period of post-completion AT, they are permitted to remain in the United States for up to thirty days in order to prepare for departure from the U.S. Students are not permitted to continue employment during this period. While travel within the U.S. is permitted during the grace period, departure from the country and re-entry in J-1 status is not permitted during this time. Once a student departs the U.S., the grace period is concluded and any remaining time is forfeited.
 

Travel

Students are advised to consult with ISSS BEFORE traveling outside the U.S. In order to re-enter the U.S. in J-1 status during AT, ISSS recommends students travel with:

  • DS-2019 (with travel signature less than six months old) with the AT authorization
  • AT Authorization letter issued by ISSS
  • a valid J-1 visa
  • a valid passport
  • proof of employment