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Academic training (AT) is a type of off-campus work authorization for students in J-1 status. The J-1 is a status for students and exchange visitors that is part of the Student and Exchange Visitor Program managed by the U.S. Department of State in collaboration with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in the United States. The AT program is used by J-1 students for employment training or practical experience directly related to the student's current major specialty.
AT is the opportunity for J-1 students to apply knowledge gained in the program of study to off-campus work. AT may include, but isn't limited to, internships, practicums and cooperative education.
AT is the analogue of Optional Practical Training for students on a J-1 visa status. A student cannot simultaneously be eligible for Optional Practical Training (also known as OPT) and Academic Training: OPT is for F-1 visa and M-1 visa students, whereas AT is for J-1 visa students.
- 1 Application
- 1.1 Eligibility criteria
- 1.2 Start and end date
- 1.3 Application process
- 1.4 Specifics of application process for PhD students
- 1.5 Documents that can be needed for an AT application
- 1.6 Wages and waivers
- 2 Extension
- 3 Travelling while pursuing AT
- 4 Infractions
- 5 Immigration information
- 6 Events that require students to update their DS-2019
- 7 Program extension
- 8 Other similar options
- 9 See also
- 10 References
- 11 External links
J-1 students are immediately eligible to apply for AT.
People are eligible for AT if they are
- undergraduate or graduate students
- who are in the U.S. primarily for study in a full-time academic program rather than to be employed
- who are in good academic standing at their educational institution
- who are participating in academic training that is directly related to their major field of study.
- Students must apply before the completion of their academic program.
- Employment/training must take place with the specific employer or employers who are noted on the academic training authorization letter.
- Students must receive an authorization letter, in advance, for the duration and type of academic training, from a responsible officer or alternate responsible officer at the International Center of their university. This authorization must be processed before the end date on the Form DS-2019 or before the official date of the degree program completion, whichever comes first.
- Students need to have a valid Form DS-2019 that enables them to remain in the U.S. in J-1 student status. Students must apply for extensions as needed and in a timely manner.
- Special MBA Exchange Program J-1 students may be not eligible for AT at some universities.
Start and end date
The total employment/training period may not exceed the amount of time spent in full course of study. For example, if someone is a Masters student who completed a program in 12 months, they are only eligible for 12 months of academic training.
Completing more than one degree program at the same time does not increase student's academic training period.
Any pre-completion academic training period is deducted from student's total allowable academic training period when calculating post-completion academic training.
Contacting J-1 responsible officer
An official who is authorized to issue Form DS-2019 is known as a Responsible Officer (RO) or Alternate Responsible Officer (ARO). Student's RO or ARO will explain to a student what documents are needed in order to be issued a new DS-2019 for AT.
Students need to have a formal employment offer, written on official stationery (letterhead) from their potential academic training employer. The job offer letter from their employer must include:
- Their job title
- A brief description of the goals and objectives of student's training or employment
- Dates and location of training or employment
- Number of hours per week, salary and benefits
- Name and title of training supervisor
A student needs to obtain a letter of recommendation from an academic advisor or dean recommending this academic training. Students are ought to provide a copy of their employment offer letter. The recommendation letter from academic advisor or dean must include:
- The goals and objectives of the specific training program
- A description of the training program, including all the information listed above
- How the training relates to student's major field of study
- Why this employment is an integral or critical part of student's academic program
- The length of time necessary to complete the goals and objectives of the academic training
Specifics of application process for PhD students
After completing a Ph.D. program, student is eligible for an additional 18 months of post-doctoral training, for a total of 36 months of academic training.
Documents that can be needed for an AT application
- Completed Academic Training Request Form for J-1 Students
- Employment offer letter
- Letter of recommendation from student's academic advisor or dean
- Copies of student's current and all previous Forms DS-2019
- A copy of student's passport biographical data page and visa page
- A copy of paper or print-out of electronic Form I-94
- Proof of funding to show how a student will support themself during their academic training (if their academic training is unpaid)
If the University approves student's application, they will issue a new Form DS-2019 authorizing the academic training for the duration that student requested. Student's employer will be listed on the academic training authorization letter accompanying the new Form DS-2019. The end date on this form is now the end date of student's J-1 program. Students can apply for an extension of their academic training.
AT allows for more than one job at a time, as long as all are related to the student's field of study and separate AT request forms are submitted. If changing employers while on AT, there cannot be a gap in employment dates.
Wages and waivers
Students may participate in academic training programs during their studies without wages or other remuneration. For that an approval of the academic dean or advisor and the Exchange Visitor Program Responsible Officer is required. Students may be authorized to participate in academic training for wages or other remuneration during their studies or commencing not later than 30 days after completion of their studies.
Waivers for home-country physical presence requirement
Program participants who are subject to the two-year home-country physical presence requirement, as established by Section 212(e) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, must apply for a waiver of that requirement if they seek to remain in the United States beyond the end date of their programs or if they seek to submit an application to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services for a change in visa status. A waiver may be requested for five statutory bases:
- a claim of Exceptional Hardship to a U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident spouse or child of an exchange visitor if the exchange visitor is required to return to the country of residence;
- a claim that the participant will be persecuted due to race, religion, or political opinions if he/she returns to the country of residence;
- a request from an interested U.S. Government Agency on the participant's behalf;
- a No Objection Statement from student's government; and
- a request by a designated State Health Department or its equivalent.
Participants must file an application to receive a recommendation for a waiver with the Department of State.
If an extension is granted, a new Form DS-2019 will be issued to a student.
Exceptions to the 18-Month Period Limit
- Student's degree program requires a training period longer than 18 months.
- After completing a Ph.D. program, student is eligible for an additional 18 months of post-doctoral training, for a total of 36 months of academic training.
- If students are enrolled in non-degree programs, their stay in the U.S., including academic training, is limited to a total of 24 months. The term of their academic training would then be the time period remaining after they complete a non-degree program.
- A period spent in part-time employment under academic training will count as full-time academic training and will be deducted from the 18 or 36 months of post completion academic training.
Travelling while pursuing AT
Travel grace period
Following the completion of their program, the period defined on the Form DS-2019, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) allows participants a 30-day travel period commonly referred to as the "Grace Period". During this 30-day grace period, participants are no longer in J-visa status, and are under the jurisdiction of the USCIS. The USCIS grants this period to allow participants to settle their affairs and to prepare to return to their home countries. Program participants may no longer continue and/or complete exchange activities, nor may they work. Although participants may travel in the United States, it is recommended that they do not travel beyond the borders of the United States as they may not be permitted reentry.
Minor or Technical Infractions
These include, but are not limited to: failure to
- extend a participant's program before the end date on the Form DS-2019;
- process a program transfer prior to the end date on the Form DS-2019;
- or receive approval and an amended Form DS-2019 prior to accepting an honorarium or other type of payment for an allowable activity.
The responsible officer may correct the participant's record within 120 days of the stated end date of the participant's program by issuing a new Form DS-2019 that
- shows continued authorized stay without interruption;
- indicates the appropriate purpose code and the additional notation "correct the record";
- is dated as of the date the adjusted Form DS-2019 is executed.
- failure to maintain valid program status for more than 120 calendar days after the program end date indicated on the Form DS-2019; and, if the participant is a student,
- failure to maintain a full course of study without prior consultation with (and approval of) the responsible officer or the alternate responsible officer of the sponsor and with the student's academic advisor.
The responsible officer must apply to the Department of State for reinstatement on behalf of the participant. The petition should include:
- all copies of the participant's Forms DS-2019 issued to date;
- a new, completed Form DS-2019, showing in Block 3 the new program end date; a copy of the receipt showing that the Public Law 104-208 fee has been paid; a written statement with supporting documentation justifying the request.
The statement should
- declare that the exchange visitor is pursuing at all times the activity for which he or she entered the United States; and show that
- the participant's failure to maintain valid program status was due to circumstances beyond his or her control or to administrative delay or oversight; and
- it would be an unusual hardship to the participant if the Department of State does not grant the reinstatement to valid program status.
A nonrefundable fee of $367 is payable to the US Department of State. Program regulations provide additional information on the application process for reinstatement petitions due to substantive infractions.
The following infractions preclude reinstatement. Applications for reinstatement submitted to the Department of State showing any of these infractions will be denied:
- willful and knowing failure to comply with program insurance requirements;
- unauthorised employment;
- involuntary suspension or termination from the most recent exchange visitor program;
- failure to maintain valid program status for more than 270 calendar days;
- receipt of a favorable recommendation from the Department of State on an application for waiver of section 212(e) of the Immigration and Nationality Act 8 USC 1182(e);
- failure to pay the Public Law 104-208 fee.
Federal law requires student to carry "registration" documents at all times, including DS-2019 and passport with I-94 card attached or J-1 admission stamp (depending on what a student received upon their last entry to the U.S.) I-94 card. For day-to-day purposes, universities suggest carrying photocopies of the documents, and keeping the originals in a safe place.
DS-2019 Certificate of Eligibility
This certificate is issued by a university where a student pursues AT.
I-94 Departure Record
When students enter the U.S. they are issued either an admission stamp in their passport or Form I-94, a small white card usually stapled to the passport opposite the visa stamp. In summer of 2013, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) transitioned to electronic arrival/departure records for air and sea ports of entry. For most travelers arriving by air or sea, a paper I-94 card will not be issued. Instead, the CBP official will issue an admission stamp in the passport. Travelers at land borders will continue to receive paper I-94 cards.
Students might receive either a paper I-94 card or an J-1 admission stamp in their passport (no card), depending on where a student arrives. The admission stamp or I-94 card records the date and place in which a student entered the U.S., their immigration status (for example, J-1 or J-2), and authorized period of stay (indicated by "D/S", meaning "duration of status"). Students should be sure to check the stamp to make sure it is correct. If they receive a paper I-94 card, it's suggested that they should keep it stapled in their passport.
A $330 fee is required to replace a lost, stolen or damaged paper I-94 card. It's recommended to contact student's ISS adviser if they lose their I-94 card.
Events that require students to update their DS-2019
It is suggested that students should keep every DS-2019 for their permanent record, even after they graduate.
Students should apply to extend their I-20 or DS-2019 up to three months before it expires.
They must contact International Student Services (ISS) or visa services or any analogous formation of their program sponsor before their DS-2019 expires and request a program extension.
Student is eligible for a program extension if:
- Their I-20 or DS-2019 has not yet expired. The expiration date is indicated in item 5 of the I-20 and item 3 of the DS-2019.
- They have been continually maintaining lawful J-1 status.
- The delay in completion of their program of study was caused by compelling academic or medical reasons.
Students in J-1 status are required by law to comply with the regulations pertaining to their immigration status, including the program extension requirements discussed above. Failure to apply in a timely manner for a program extension is considered a violation of status and will disqualify a student from benefits such as employment eligibility.
ISS must issue a new I-20 or DS-2019 and notify Immigration if the student changes their level of study, change their major field of study, or if there is a change in the source of their financial support. These are separate procedures; one needs to request a new I-20 or DS-2019 based on these changes.
A student may request multiple program extensions as long as they are for compelling academic or medical reasons and recommended by their academic adviser.
Other similar options
Also see Optional Practical Training (OPT).
OPT options for F-1 students
For the purposes of OPT, "part-time" work refers to work that is at most 20 hours/week. The term "full-time" could be used either in the sense of "more than part-time" (i.e., more than 20 hours/week) or in the sense of 40 hours/week or more. There are two types of OPT:
- Pre-completion OPT: This is a type of OPT where people currently pursuing degree programs acquire work authorization to do work related to their field of study. The work may be part-time during academic quarters and full-time during vacations.
- Post-completion OPT: This is a type of OPT for people who have completed their degree requirements, and requires working at least 20 hours/week to count as OPT employment (more later). Ph.D. candidates can apply for post-completion OPT if they are ABD (all but dissertation) and are not simultaneously enrolled as students.
Post-completion OPT for M students
Students on the M-1 visa can, after the completion of their coursework, apply for post-completion Optional Practical Training. However, there are a few ways that this differs from the OPT available to F-1 students:
- There is no pre-completion option; M-1 students can only request post-completion OPT.
- Unlike OPT for F students, that can be at most 12 months, an M student's maximum OPT duration depends on the time the student spent as a student. For every four months spent as a student, one month of post-completion OPT can be requested. Since M student status is granted for programs of up to two years, this means that the OPT can be requested effectively for at most six months.
- In addition to filing Form I-765 with the USCIS, Form I-539 (to extend or change nonimmigrant status) must also be filed, and the associated fee for it ($290) must be paid over and above the $380 filing fee for Form I-765. This is because, whereas F students are admitted with "D/S" (Duration of Status) on their Form I-94, M students are admitted only for a limited duration, and therefore need to explicitly extend status.
Curricular Practical Training (CPT)
Curricular Practical Training is somewhat similar to pre-completion OPT in that it can be engaged in by students while enrolled in their degree programs, and is part-time during the term and could be full-time during vacations.
- Experience is required as part of the degree requirement.
- Pre-completion OPT needs to be related to the field of study, but is not necessarily required.
- Degree-based CPT is tied to the degree but not to a specific course. Course-based CPT is tied to a specific course, and can be taken only by students enrolled in that course.
- Specifying the employer: For pre-completion OPT, it is not necessary to specify the employer during the application. However, for CPT, the employer is specified at the time of application and the employment offer letter is part of the application.
- Time limit: Pre-completion OPT has a time limit of 12 months whereas there is no limit on the number of months for CPT.
- Effect on (post-completion) OPT time: Pre-completion OPT counts toward the 12 month OPT limit (thus cutting into the length of possible time that can be spent on post-completion OPT). CPT does not count toward the 12 month OPT limit. However, student who does 12 or more months of CPT, becomes ineligible for OPT.
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- "OPT (Optional Practical Training)". University of Chicago. Retrieved 2013-09-10.
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- : About DS-2019 form.