Academic Training

As an international student on a J-1 visa, you MUST have Academic Training authorization before working off campus. This regulation applies year round (including summer) and nationwide (anywhere within the U.S.). 

Academic Training is authorized work or training related to your program of study. It may be used before and/or after graduation. It is authorized by ISSS for UMN-sponsored J-1 students and does not require a fee or application to the US government.

You must have a job offer to receive Academic Training authorization. The job offer may be for an internship, practicum, cooperative education program, or other training-related employment that is an integral or critical part of your academic program. You must receive written authorization before beginning employment.

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In order to receive Academic Training authorization you must:

  • Be in the U.S. primarily to study rather than engage in Academic Training
  • Be in good academic standing
  • Have a job offer letter from a specific employer or training site for employment directly related to your major field of study. The main purpose of the appointment must be to gain new skills or expertise, rather than to generate income or fill a labor need for an employer. You may not perform unskilled labor that does not align with your education.
  • Have a letter of recommendation from your UMN academic advisor documenting that the training is a critical or integral part of your academic program
  • Apply at least two weeks before the end date on your current DS-2019
  • Have a DS-2019 issued by the University of Minnesota

Academic Training Categories

Pre-Completion Academic Training

  • Occurs before completion of your degree or academic program
  • May be paid or unpaid
  • ISSS does not recommend full-time Academic Training before completion of required coursework. However, if full-time Academic Training is recommended by your advisor or is a mandatory program component, degree-seeking students may register for less than a full course load. Submit a Reduced Course Load form and a letter from your academic advisor indicating:
    • The expected completion date of your academic program
    • That the training is equivalent to a full course of study
    • That the training will not delay completion of your academic program
    • That the training is mandatory for all students in the program, if applicable

Post-Completion Academic Training

  • Begins within 30 days after all degree or program requirements have been completed
  • May be paid or unpaid, but must document financial source and health insurance
  • Must work a minimum of 20 hours per week
  • Must be authorized before the current end date on your DS-2019
  • Authorization for Academic Training must be obtained before departing the U.S.
  • Must be authorized for a graduating student before any travel outside the U.S. A former student may not return to the U.S. to apply for Academic Training even if their DS-2019 dates are valid.

Post-Doctoral Academic Training

  • Meets all Post-Completion Academic Training requirements, above AND
    • Must be supervised by someone qualified to facilitate your training. For example, a senior researcher or faculty member with a PhD who is capable of evaluating, guiding, and providing insight to your work.
    • May include a research component but is not necessarily a “postdoc research” position
    • Can only be authorized for students completing a UMN doctoral degree

Time Limits

Academic Training is limited to a total of 18 months or the period of study in J status, whichever is shorter. Additionally:

  • Students who earn a doctoral degree may apply for a total of 36 months of Academic Training.
  • Bachelor’s and master’s degree students in STEM fields, as described here, may be eligible for up to 36 months of Academic Training.

Part Time Academic Training is counted the same as Full Time in terms of total period of eligibility.

Requirements During Academic Training

  • Academic Training must be in-person or a hybrid of in-person/remote with no more than 2 days per week virtual. Academic Training must be carried out primarily at the Site of Activity requested on your AT application and offer letter.
  • You must have health insurance — including health insurance for any J-2 dependents — during Academic Training. The insurance must meet the criteria set by UMN policy and J visa regulations.
  • You must provide a statement of training evaluation and activity upon request from ISSS.
  • When beginning paid employment authorized through Academic Training, a J-1 student will need a U.S. Social Security number. Learn how to apply
  • If your residential address changes during Academic Training, you must update your address in MyU. 
  • If you want to change employers or request an Academic Training extension, you must submit a new application to ISSS.
  • You are required to notify ISSS when deciding to permanently depart the U.S. or change visa status during Academic Training.

How to Apply

Academic Training authorization must be granted in writing before you begin employment. Allow at least two weeks for processing.

You will first need an offer letter from your prospective employer. The letter should include:

  • The beginning and ending dates of training
  • The number of hours per week
  • Funding (salary/stipend) amount
  • Whether health insurance coverage is included, if post-completion

Once you have an offer letter, we recommend you schedule an initial appointment with an ISSS advisor to review your offer letter and make sure your employment qualifies for Academic Training. Next, gather the additional documents and submit them by email to [email protected].

To submit your application, you will need:

  • Completed Academic Training form
  • Photocopy of passport (if renewed) and most recent entry visa
  • Documented evidence of all funding 
  • A letter of recommendation from your Academic Advisor (see note below) describing the training program. The letter must include:
    • The goals and objectives of the position
    • Location of the work
    • Name and address of the training supervisor
    • Number of hours per week
    • Beginning and ending dates
    • How the training relates to your major field of study
    • Why the training is an integral or critical part of your academic program
    • If applicable, a statement that the training is a mandatory component of the degree program, or that a student must do full-time pre-completion AT
    • For postdoctoral training, supervisor’s title or credentials qualifying them to mentor PhD Academic Training

Note on "Academic Advisor": This requirement is directly from the regulation; it must be an academic advisor or dean. If the student’s UMN faculty advisor is also the employer (e.g. the student will conduct research with their faculty advisor after graduation) the Advisor recommendation must come from a different faculty member or department head who is familiar with the academic program and regularly advises students.

Last updated: February 7, 2023