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.

Only students pursuing a degree are allowed to apply for Academic Training. Students become eligible for AT after they have been in lawful, full-time student status for one full academic year.

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 year is allowed only one year of Academic Training.

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 MIT student and would like information about Academic Training, please come to the MIT International Students Office and make an appointment to speak with an International Student Advisor.

Q. Who qualifies for Academic Training?

A. Students who are degree candidates and 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. Full-time during vacations, and up to 20 hours per week when school is in session. Remember that no student is allowed to work for more than 20 hours per week when school is in session. Therefore, if a student has an assistantship, she/he cannot be employed for Academic Training.

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 the ISO, provided the International Student Advisor has all the necessary information.

Please note: If MIT is not your J-1 program sponsor, the ISO cannot authorize Academic Training for you.

How to Apply

Students must make an appointment with an international student advisor and bring to the appointment:

  1. For post-completion academic training, a check or money order for $150 payable to "MIT" for the first 18 months and $200 for the second 18 months (effective 3/1/2009)
  2. Previous DS-2019 forms
  3. Previous academic training authorizations
  4. A detailed letter of recommendation from their academic advisor The letter, typed on departmental letterhead, MUST include the following five points:
    1. For pre-completion Academic Training, the letter should certify that
      (a) the student is in good academic standing, and
      (b) that the Academic Training is directly related to his/her field of study.

      For post-completion Academic Training, the letter must certify
      (a) the student s date of completion of program (thesis included), and
      (b) that the Academic Training is directly related to his/her field of study.
    2. Specific goals and objectives of the Academic Training
    3. Description of the Academic Training, including the company or organization’s street address, name and address of the training supervisor, number of hours per week, and dates of employment
    4. Explanation of how the Academic Training relates to the student’s major field of study
    5. Why the Academic Training is an integral or critical part of the student’s academic program

IMPORTANT: During the duration of both your studies and your Academic Training period, you are required to inform both the ISO and the USCIS of any address change — temporary or otherwise — within 10 days. You may inform the ISO by updating your address on WEBSIS. If you no longer have access to WEBSIS, send an email to ISO with your new address. Failure to report an address change could result in loss of your Optional Practical Training authorization and, possibly, loss of your legal status in the United States.

IMPORTANT: As an international student at MIT, 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 the ISO. If you allow the date on your DS-2019 to expire, you will fall out of legal status and may suffer serious consequences.

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