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International Student Services

J-1 Employment: Academic Training

Work authorization for J-1 students is called Academic Training. Academic Training for J-1 exchange visitors allows you to gain experience in your field of study, generally after your completion of studies. However, pre-completion Academic Training is possible as well.


Academic Training Authorization differs from an F-1 student applying for OPT. There is no formal application or fee to be mailed off for Academic Training. Academic Training is issued by your Program Sponsor in the form of a Work Authorization Letter. If your DS-2019 does not list the University of South Carolina as your program sponsor then you must contact your program sponsor (ex. IIE Fulbright Program, LASPAU, etc.) about Academic Training.


  1. You are primarily in the United States to study rather than engage in academic training.
  2. You are participating in academic training that is directly related to your major field of study at USC, which is listed on your Form DS-2019.
  3.  You are in good academic standing with USC.
  4. You receive written approval in advance from the responsible officer (RO) for the duration and type of academic training.
  5. You must maintain health insurance and medical evacuation/repatriation coverage for yourself and any J-2 dependents through the "Academic Training" period. The health insurance must meet the minimum requirements J-1 visa holders.
  6. Academic Training must commence no later than 30 days after completion of your studies.
  7. While school is in session, you are limited to part-time pre-completion academic training, unless you are exempt from full-time enrollment/on Z status. If you are employed on-campus, the total number of hours in Academic Training and on-campus employment may not exceed your allowed amount of hours per week.

Length of Academic Training

  • 18-month general limit. For undergraduate and pre-doctoral training, you can engage in up to 18 months or the period of the full course of study, whichever is less.
  • 36-month maximum for post-doctoral training. Up to 36 months of academic training can be granted for academic training done at the post-doctoral level, inclusive of all prior academic training done at that or lower levels of study.

Applying for Academic Training

You need to have a written job offer and a letter from your academic advisor which describes how this job relates to your major and is a crucial part to your academic program. These documents must contain the following information:

  • The goals and objectives of the specific training program.
  • A description of the training program including:
    • Address
    • Name, title, phone number, and email address of the training supervisor
    • Number of hours per week
    • Dates of the training
  • How the training relates to your major field of study.
  • Why it is an integral or critical part of your academic program.

The academic training position must cover your and your dependents' living costs. If the position does not cover these costs or is volunteer, financial support to cover living cost must be provided.

Turn these documents in to ISS and an international student advisor will review the letter and issue a work authorization letter if all the appropriate information is turned in. You need to apply for Academic Training before your academic program ends. Please apply 1-2 weeks prior to your DS-2019 end date to allow for processing time.

Changing employer or adding a new employer

Academic Training authorization is employer-specific. If you are adding a new employer or changing employer, you must request a new authorization utilizing the same process. You may not begin new employment until you are authorized for it.

Providing proof to your employer

Once you are authorized, you will get a new DS-2019 and a work authorization letter from ISS. The DS-2019 and the letter, along with your valid passport, and form I-94, will be sufficient to fill out the I-9 form (to be employed.)

Travel while on post-completion Academic Training

If you are planning to travel outside the United States during your post-completion academic training period, please be aware that you should carry your DS-2019 with a travel signature no older than six months, valid passport, valid visa and proof of employment to re-enter. While travel is possible while on post-completion Academic Training, it is considered more risky if you are traveling on an expired visa as it may be more difficult to get a new visa. If this is the case, please discuss international travel with an ISS Advisor.