Academic Training for J-1 Students
“Academic Training” is the term used by the U.S. Department of State to describe certain types of study-related employment in the J-1 program. It is flexible in its format and offers a variety of employment situations to supplement your academic program in the United States. It is available before completion of your program of study as well as afterwards. As long as you stay within the stipulated time limits, it lets you work part-time while classes are in session and full-time during vacation periods; and, under certain circumstances, you may interrupt study to work full-time, for example while you are writing a thesis. J-1 students in non-degree programs are eligible for “Academic Training”.
Students on the Texas Tech J-1 program must obtain written authorization for academic training from a Responsible Officer at the Office of International Affairs (OIA). Texas Tech students who are on another agency’s J-1 program must contact that program for information on academic training. Students who are uncertain about their J-1 sponsorship should talk with the Scholars Counselor at OIA.
1. Your primary purpose in the United States must be study rather than “Academic Training.”
2. You must be in good academic standing at Texas Tech.
3. The proposed employment must be directly related to your major field of study.
4. Throughout your “Academic Training” you must maintain permission to stay in the United States, in J-1 student status, and apply for extensions as necessary.
5. You must maintain health insurance coverage for yourself and any J-2 dependents throughout your “Academic Training.”
Limitations - general
1. Your employment may be authorized for “the length of time necessary to complete the goals and objectives of the training, provided that the amount of time . . . is approved by [both] the academic dean or advisor and . . . the responsible officer,” to quote the regulations. It may not exceed “the period of full course of study” or 18 months, whichever is shorter. If you receive a Ph.D., however, your “post-doctoral training” may last as long as 36 months.
2. Part-time employment for “Academic Training” counts against the 18 or 36-month limit the same as full-time employment.
3. Earning more than one degree does not increase your eligibility for “Academic Training.”
After completion of your program of study . . .
1. “Academic Training” approved after completion of your program must be reduced by any prior periods of “Academic Training.”
2. “Academic Training” following completion of your program of study must involve paid employment.
3. Whether the other items in the application are ready yet or not, you must obtain a written offer of appropriate employment and present a copy to your J-1 Responsible Officer before the end date in Item 3 of your DS-2019, or you will lose eligibility for “Academic Training” after completion.
4. If you plan to leave the United States after you complete your program of study and reenter the country for J-1 “Academic Training,” you must obtain employment authorization before you leave. Otherwise, you will have trouble reentering. Consult the Scholars Counselor at OIA for advice and written authorization.
1. Obtain a letter of offer from your prospective employer that includes your job title, a brief description of the “goals and objectives” of your “training program” (your employment), the dates and location of the employment, the number of hours per week, and the name and address of your “training supervisor” (the quotations come from the regulations). Make sure that your employer’s letter includes all of these details.
2. Give a copy of your employer’s letter to your academic adviser or dean for use in writing to your J-1 Responsible Officer at OIA recommending the “Academic Training.” According to the text of the regulation, your adviser’s letter must set forth:
A. The goals and objectives of the specific training program;
B. A description of the training program, including its location, the name and address of the training supervisor, number of hours per week, and dates of the training;
C. How the training relates to the student’s major field of study; and
D. Why it is an integral or critical part of the academic program of the exchange visitor student. Your adviser must also approve your “Academic Training” for the length of time necessary to complete the goals and objectives of the training.
3. When your academic adviser’s recommendation is ready, you should deliver or send it to your J-1 Responsible Officer at OIA, with a copy of the employer’s letter attached.
4. Your J-1 Responsible Officer must evaluate the “Academic Training” program and decide whether it is warranted and appropriate. If so, he or she will write you a letter of approval. To authorize “post-doctoral training” your J-1 Responsible Officer must also issue you a new Form DS-2019, for no more than 18 months at a time.
AUTHORIZATION TO WORK
Form I-9, “Employment Eligibility Verification.” When you begin work, you and your employer must complete Form I-9, which requires you to document your identity and work authorization according to directions on the back of the Form. Of the various items acceptable as documentation, you may find that the most convenient combination is your passport (or other photo-bearing identification if you are Canadian), I-94 Departure Record card, Form DS-2019, and your J-1 Responsible Officer’s written work authorization. Your employer, who keeps Form I-9, will make copies of the documents you submit, and return the originals to you. Form I-9 must be updated anytime that you receive a renewal of your permission for “Academic Training.”
SOCIAL SECURITY AND OTHER TAXES
Social Security taxes. In general, as a J-1 student you will be exempt from Social Security (F.I.C.A.) taxes for your first five years in the United States, as long as you continue to declare non-resident status for tax purposes (see Internal Revenue Service Publication 519, “U.S. Tax Guide for Aliens.”)
Federal, state and local taxes. Your earnings as a J-1 student will be subject to applicable federal, state and local taxes, and employers are required by law to withhold those taxes from your paychecks. By April 15, you must file a federal income tax return and other required statements covering the prior calendar year to determine whether you owe more taxes or have a refund coming. Check for special tax treaty benefits between the United States government and your home government.
As a J-1 student, you are eligible for a variety of work opportunities in the United States, but employment without proper authorization is a serious violation of your status. Remember that before you start any kind of employment, you must first consult your J-1 Responsible Officer whose written approval is necessary in advance.
Texas Tech University Office of International Affairs, MS 5004, 742-2974, fax 742-1286