Services for International Students and Scholars

Academic Training (AT)

What is Academic Training

Academic training (AT) is an employment authorization granted to eligible J-1 students. It is designed to complement their programs of study in the United States.

  • AT can only be authorized by the program sponsor.
  • Students may engage in AT during their academic program and/or after the completion of their program.
  • AT can be paid or unpaid and must be authorized regardless of compensation.
  • The work must be directly related to the student’s field of study.
  • The work must be commensurate with their level of education.
  • The total amount of training cannot exceed the total length of the academic program.
  • AT authorization is location and date specific. The employer’s name and address, and the precise start and end dates must be authorized in advance by the OGS in SEVIS.

Pre-Completion AT vs. Post-Completion AT

Pre-completion AT is training that takes place before the J-1 student completes all degree requirements. Post-completion AT is training that takes place after the J-1 student has completed all J-1 requirements.

Eligibility Requirements for Academic Training

A J-1 Student is eligible for AT if they meet the following requirements:

  • Is in valid J-1 status
  • Is in good academic standing or has successfully completed a program of study
  • Is proposing a training experience that is directly related to the student’s major field of study and has been approved by the academic advisor, or co-op coordinator
  • Is maintaining health insurance coverage for themselves and any J-2 dependents

 

J-1 students in non-degree or short-term exchange programs studying at Northeastern are not eligible for Academic Training.

Academic Training Time Limitations

  • J-1 students (Undergraduate and Master students) are given a total of 18 months of Academic Training; this includes AT used during and immediately after a degree program.
  • The total AT period may not exceed the amount of time spend in full course of study.
    • Example: A Master’s student who completed their program 12 months is only eligible for 12 month of AT.
  • After your degree requirements have been met – your post AT time starts whether you are working or not.
    • Example: If your program end date is 5/8/XXXX then you must start counting your post AT time on 5/9/XXXX even if you don’t start working on that date.
  • It is your responsibility to track your AT usage.
  • Authorization for post-AT must be processed before you complete your program. Post-AT must begin within 30 days after program completion date.

Please note that both full-time and part-time AT deduct at a full-time rate. This means that even if AT authorization is provided on a part-time basis, each day of part-time authorization deducts a full day of authorization from the total amount of time a student is eligible for.

Scenario 1: If a student is provided 6 months of part-time AT then this student has used 6 months of AT.

Scenario 2: If a student is provided 6 months of full-time AT then this student has used  6 months of AT.

How to Request Academic Training

To participate in an off-campus opportunity in the United States, J-1 students must obtain Academic Training (AT) authorization from the OGS. All students must comply with their college requirements and policies concerning the timing of eligibility for any co-op or other experiential training. Please note that academic departments or colleges may have additional requirements and regulations surrounding eligibility. The OGS will not review any request for AT that have not already been reviewed by the appropriate advisor.

Step 1 – Co-op or Academic Advisor Approval Meet with co-op or academic advisor and discuss your employment opportunity. The OGS will not review any requests that have not been approved by your co-op or academic advisor.
Step 2 – Complete Paper Form The student must complete the appropriate authorization form along with his/her Co-op Coordinator or Academic Advisor. The following forms can be found on the OGS website:
  • AT Authorization Request
Step 3 – Submit E-Form and Documentation Online The student must upload the appropriate completed form with the advisor signature at the link provided on the first page of instructions. Students will also need to upload the following:
  • Original offer letter that includes the following:
    • On company letterhead
    • Employment start and end date
    • Hours worked per week
    • Compensation details
  • Copy of valid passport
  • Copy of I-94 (that indicates “J-1” as “Class of Admission” and “D/S” as “Admit Until Date”
  • Completed Health Insurance Compliance Form
  • POST COMPLETION ONLY REQUIREMENT: If AT salary is less than $2,334 per month, then the student must submit financial documentation to supplement offer letter

The OGS will examine the student’s documents to determine whether or not the student is eligible to participate in AT. The e-form will be either approved or denied. If denied, the student will need to resubmit the e-form after making appropriate adjustments to the application. Authorized students will receive an email when their DS-2019 with AT authorization and letter for SSN eligibility has been processed.

Step 4 – Document Pick-Up The student must pick up the documents from the OGS. There are also shipping services available if the documents need to be mailed. Students must have AT authorization prior to work experience, and must collect the above documents from the OGS prior to AT start date. Please check the OGS website for current office hours and closures.

Important Post-Completion AT Timeline Reminders

  • Post-completion AT applications must be submitted at least 10 business days before the end date on the DS-2019. After this date the record will go inactive and the OGS will be unable to authorize any AT.
  • Post-completion AT employment must begin within 30 days of the program end date. For example, if a student’s DS-2019 end date is 5/1/2017 then the post-completion AT would need to start by 6/1/2017.

Reviewing Your Updated DS-2019 with AT

When picking up your DS-2019 from OGS it is very important that you read your DS-2019 carefully to make sure that you understand the limitations of your authorization. This will help prevent you from violating your visa status!

Please draw your attention specifically to the following areas:

  • Box 3 “Form Covers Period” – here we can see your new end date (if on post-completion AT)
  • box 5 “Academic Training” – here you can see your employer information as well as the dates that you are authorized to work

If there are any issues or concerns please let OGS know asap!

Consequences of Unauthorized Employment

J-1 students should not engage in unauthorized employment as severe consequences will be incurred.

Updates to Academic Training

While on Academic Training (AT) it is important that you update OGS when there are changes in your authorization. AT Authorization is employer, location, date and number of full-time/part-time specific. Depending on your update request, OGS will ask for certain documentation. It is important that you do not engage in these changes until you have received your updated DS-2019 from OGS. Also note, that OGS will not update AT unless you have approval from the original advisor who signed off on your AT Authorization Request form.
IMPORTANT REMINDER REGARDING AT EXTENSIONS: If you are seeking an extension of your AT authorization, note that you may not request an extension via our update eform.  If you need an extension of your AT, you should apply via the AT Authorization Request form.
To apply for AT updates, please follow this link: https://myissi.northeastern.edu/istart/controllers/client/ClientEngine.cfm?serviceid=EFormATUpdateRequest0ServiceProvider 

When do I need authorization?

This question really is based off of what the U.S. government considers to be “employment.” Employment is considered work for compensation. Compensation can be monetary, but it could also be food, travel, lodging, etc. OR BENEFICIAL EXPERIENCE. This means that if you are benefitting in any way from your participation then you would require authorization.

  Also, just because an opportunity is unpaid does not mean that it doesn’t require authorization!!

Do I need a valid visa to apply for AT?

No! Visas are for entry purposes only. As long as you are not planning on leaving the country – you will not have a problem applying for AT with an expired visa.