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J-1 Academic Training (AT)

Overview

J-1 Academic Training

The US Department of State Exchange Visitor Program regulations allow J-1 student visa holders to apply for Academic Training (AT) before and/or after completion of their program of studies.

Non-degree (exchange students) may participate in AT. The length of AT cannot exceed the time spent in the program of study. 

The cumulative period of Academic Training is 18 months, unless the student is pursuing a program that requires fewer than 18 months, in which case the period of Academic Training is shortened accordingly.  The period of Academic Training cannot be longer than the period of time the student takes to complete his/her program of studies. For example, a student who completes a Master’s degree in one academic year (10 months) is allowed only 10 months of Academic Training authorization.

Students who complete a Ph.D. program may be eligible for an additional 18 months of Academic Training authorization for post-doctoral training opportunities after completion of degree (for a total maximum of Academic Training based on the Ph.D. degree equal to 36 months).

Below are some common questions that students ask about J-1 Academic Training, followed by general answers to those questions. On the reverse side is an explanation of how to apply for Academic Training. If you are a J-1 WVU student and would like information about Academic Training, please come to International Students & Scholars Services and make an appointment to speak with an International Student Advisor.

Q. Who qualifies for Academic Training?

A. Students who are in good academic standing can apply for Academic Training before completion of studies. Students who have completed all of their requirements, including thesis, are eligible to apply for post-completion Academic Training.

Q. How many hours can students work?

A. J-1 Academic Training can be authorized for Full-time employment during vacation periods (Summer Vacation), and up to 20 hours per week maximum when school is in session (Fall and Spring semesters). All authorizations require the support/approval of your academic program and must be directly related to your field of study and furthering your specific academic experience.

Q. Is the period of Academic Training used during the summer subtracted from the 18 months total?

A. Yes. Any period of pre-completion Academic Training is subtracted from the total of 18 months (or fewer, depending on the length of the program).

Q. Is there a deadline for applying for post-completion Academic Training?

A. Yes. Students have only 30 days after completion of their program of studies to apply for and receive authorization for Academic Training. Since you must first meet with an International Student Advisor and then wait to receive authorization, it is recommended that you make an appointment well in advance of the 30 days.

Q. Is there any way to extend the deadline, if students are late with the application?

A. Unfortunately no, because the 30-day deadline is specified in federal regulations.

Q. Do students need to have a job offer before applying for Academic Training?

A. Yes. Students must have a specific job offer, so that their academic advisor is able to write a detailed letter of recommendation.

Q. How long does it take to receive authorization for Academic Training?

A. Academic Training authorization will be granted to students within two weeks of the date of their appointment at ISSS, provided the International Student Advisor has all the necessary information.

Please note: If WVU is not your J-1 program sponsor, ISSS cannot authorize Academic Training for you.  You must contact your J-1 visa program sponsor (who issued your Form DS-2019) to confirm if you are eligible for Academic Training authorization and the procedures to complete with your sponsor to secure the Academic Training authorization.

How to Apply for Academic Training

To apply for academic training through ISSS you must be sponsored by West Virginia University. If your sponsor is the Institute for International Education (IIE) or another agency, you must contact your sponsor to process your academic training. To determine your sponsorship, please check section #2 of your Form DS-2019.

  1. Have a formal employment offer, written on official letterhead from your potential academic training employer. The job offer letter from your employer must include:
    1. Your job title
    2. A brief description of the goals and objectives of your training (employment) , how it is related to the degree of study, and why the training is necessary
    3. Dates and location of training or employment
    4. Number of hours per week, salary and benefits
    5. Name and title of your training supervisor
    6. Start Date (must be within 30 days of completion of studies)
  2. Obtain a letter of recommendation from your Academic Advisor or Dean (if you are an exchange student, please talk with your Education Abroad Advisor) recommending this academic training. You will need to provide him/her with a copy of your employment offer letter. The recommendation letter from your Academic Advisor or Dean must include:
    1. The goals and objectives of the specific training program
    2. A description of the training program, including all the information listed above
    3. How the training relates to your major field of study
    4. Why this employment is an integral or critical part of your academic program
    5. The length of time necessary to complete the goals and objectives of the academic training
  3. Complete a  Academic Training Request Form for J-1 Students
  4. Have your employer complete a Memorandum for Evaluation with your Employer
  5. Have your employer complete the 3rd Party Agreement for Academic Training
  6. Schedule an appointment with an International Student Advisor   
  7. Bring the following documents with you to your appointment:
    1. Completed Academic Training Request Form for J-1 Students
    2. Employment offer letter
    3. Letter of recommendation from your Academic Advisor or Dean (if you are an exchange student, please talk with your Education Abroad Advisor)
    4. Copies of your current and all previous Forms DS-2019
    5. A copy of your passport biographical data page and visa page
    6. Completed Memorandum for Evaluation with your Employer
    7. Completed 3rd party Agreement for Academic Training
    8. Proof of insurance (if WVU insurance is expiring) - minimum J-1 insurance requirements

After you receive approval for Academic Training:

  • You and your employer must complete periodic (every 6 months) evaluations of your Academic Training. The evaluation form can be found here (J-1 Academic Training Evaluation). Please submit the completed form to isss-students@mail.wvu.edu.
  • During your Academic Training period, you are required to inform ISSS of any address change — temporary or otherwise — within 10 days. You may inform ISSS by updating your address using our Change of Address Form. Failure to report an address change in a timely manner could result in loss of your Academic Training authorization and, possibly, loss of your legal status in the United States.
  • You must maintain the minimum insurance coverage for all J-1 Exchange Visitors (see above)
  • If you are still an international student at WVU, you are responsible for maintaining your own legal status. This means you must ensure that you are registered full-time every semester, and that the validity of your immigration documents does not expire. Be certain to report any changes in your academic level, funding, and/or completion of studies date within a timely manner to an International Student Advisor in ISSS. If you allow the date on your DS-2019 to expire, you will fall out of legal status and may suffer serious consequences.