Academic Training (AT) (J-1)

AT is a benefit of J-1 student status that permits off-campus work, training or other experience, either paid or unpaid, that is directly related to your field of study. AT may take place either before or after completion of studies.

The following information is only for J-1 students who have a DS-2019 issued by Boston University. If a third-party program sponsor issued your DS-2019 for study at Boston University, you must contact that sponsor regarding AT authorization.

To be eligible for Academic Training, J-1 students must:

  1. Be primarily in the United States to study rather than engage in Academic Training
  2. Be participating in academic training that is directly related to your major field of study.
  3. Be in good academic standing with Boston University; and
  4. Receive written authorization in advance from an ISSO advisor for the duration and type of academic training.

Important: You cannot lawfully begin employment until an ISSO advisor has approved your application and issued you a letter authorizing your Academic Training. If your AT will take place after you complete your studies, you will also be issued a new DS-2019. You should present this letter, along with your DS-2019 and passport, to your employer.

The maximum period of AT that can be granted is 18 months in total. However, if the total duration of your studies in the U.S. is less than 18 months, AT will only be granted for a period of up to the equivalent of the duration of your program (e.g. 9 months of study will only allow 9 months of AT). Exception: Additional time for AT is allowed to the extent necessary for a J-1 student to satisfy the mandatory requirements of their degree program in the U.S.

AT is deducted at the full-time rate, regardless of how many hours you work per week. No distinction is made for part-time work. It is recommended that students only engage in AT part-time while classes are in session.

Additional Time for Postdoctoral Training

For post-doctoral training after completion of a U.S. doctorate degree, a period of up to 36 months of AT is permitted. This includes any previously authorized AT, and cannot exceed the total duration of studies in the U.S. Post-doctoral AT can only be granted up to 18 months at a time; therefore it is likely that two separate applications will be required for authorization of a long-term AT placement.

Applying for Academic Training

You must apply for AT authorization from the ISSO before you begin employment. AT must be authorized for a specific employer, location and time period; therefore you must have a job offer at the time of application. If there is a change of employer, job location, or dates of employment, you must reapply for AT before continuing to work.

You may request to do more than one job at the same time for AT. However, you must submit a separate AT application to the ISSO for each placement. Final approval of how many jobs you may do at once is up to the ISSO.

  1. Obtain a letter from the employer describing the activity of the placement, your position, location where you will work, and the start and end dates of the training. If the AT will take place after you complete your studies, the letter must also include salary/wages to be paid.
  2. After a placement is arranged, complete the student section of the form entitled “Academic Training Application for J-1 Students (Acrobat PDF File).”
  3. Meet with your academic advisor or Dean to review your placement letter and AT application form. They must sign their approval on the form only after the student section is completed.
  4. Schedule an appointment to meet with your ISSO advisor at least two weeks before the start of your proposed employment. Bring the following to your appointment:
    • Completed AT Application for J-1 Students
    • Current DS-2019 and any previous DS-2019s
    • Passport and I-94 card (do not bring copies)

    If you are applying for AT to take place after you complete your studies, also bring the following items, if applicable:

    • Placement letter from employer with salary information
    • Proof of financial support if your AT placement is unpaid or the salary is insufficient to meet all living expenses

Academic Training After Completion of Studies

It is strongly recommended that you apply for Academic Training before you complete your studies. However, if you are unable to finalize your employment arrangements earlier, you may apply during the 30-day “grace period” granted by immigration regulations following the completion date of your studies. You will lose your eligibility for AT if you leave the U.S. during the grace period before receiving AT authorization.

Post-completion AT does not have to begin by the end of the grace period if the job requires you, within reason, to begin later. However, in all cases, the eighteen months of Academic Training permitted under the regulations begins counting as of your date of completion of studies.

A new DS-2019 must be issued to extend your J-1 program to cover the post-completion AT period. If the post-completion AT is unpaid, or the compensation is insufficient to cover living expenses during the extended program period, you must provide proof of adequate financial support from another source (e.g. family or government) before post-completion AT will be authorized. You must also continue to maintain health insurance coverage meeting the J-1 minimum requirements for yourself and your dependents.


While the regulations that govern the J-1 student category do provide opportunities for employment, working without authorization is a serious violation of your immigration status. Therefore, please consult your ISSO advisor before accepting any employment so that you can be properly advised as to your eligibility.