The following information is for those J-1 students on Minnesota State University, Mankato's J-1 exchange program P-1-04472. If the J-1 program is other than MSU, please consult your particular sponsor information for guidance.
Academic Training/Employment for J-1 students is the name now used by the United States State Department for certain types of study-related employment. It will tell you the conditions that you have to meet in order to qualify for Academic Training, and how to apply. Academic Training 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 in 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.
To qualify for Academic Training, you must first obtain approval in writing from International Student Office, who represents your J-1 sponsor and issues your Form DS-2019. ISO must evaluate the proposed employment in terms of your program of study and your individual circumstances, and then decide whether it would be appropriate or not. If your J-1 sponsor is an agency, and if you are uncertain how to reach your J-1 Responsible Officer, ISO can help you to find out, but has no authority to grant employment permission.
- Your primary purpose in the United States must be study rather than Academic Training.
- You must be in good academic standing at the school named on your DS-2019.
- The proposed employment must be directly related to your major field of study.
- Throughout your Academic Training you must maintain permission to stay in the United States in J-1 Student Status, and apply for extension as necessary.
- You must maintain health insurance coverage for yourself and J-2 dependents throughout your Academic Training.
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." It may not exceed the "period of full course of study" or 18 months, whichever is shorter. Additional Academic Training beyond the 18 or 36 month limit, is allowed only if it is required for the degree.
Part-time employment for Academic Training counts against the 18 or 36 months limit the same as full-time employment.
Earning more than one degree does not increase your eligibility for Academic Training.
After completion of your program of study:
Academic Training approved after completion of your program must be reduced by any prior periods of Academic Training.
Academic Training following completion of your program of study must involve paid employment.
You must obtain a written offer of appropriate employment and present a copy to your J-1 Responsible Officer no later than 30 days after the end of your program, you will lose eligibility for Academic Training after completion.
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 International Student Office for advice.
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 the address of your "training supervisor" (the quotations come from the regulations). Make sure that your employer's letter includes all of these details.
Give a copy of your employer's letter to your academic advisor or dean. He or she needs to prepare a letter for your J-1 Responsible Officer which includes the following information:
- The goals and objectives of the specific training and program
- 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
- How the training relates to your major field of study
- Why it is an integral or critical part of your academic program; and
- How your ability to accomplish the goals of your academic training will be evaluated.
When your academic advisor's recommendation is ready, you should deliver or send it to your J-1 Responsible Officer, with a copy of the employer's letter attached.
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.
Authorization to Work
A Social Security Number. To put you on the payroll, your employer will need your Social Security number, which you can obtain by applying for a Social Security card. Take your passport (If you are Canadian, you may use another form of photo-bearing identification), I-94 Departure Record, the DS-2019 form, and your J-1 Responsible Officer's written work authorization to an office of the Social Security Administration.
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, I-94 Departure Record, the DS-2019 form, and J-1 Responsible Officer's written work authorization. Form I-9 must be updated any time 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 (FICA) taxes for the 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, "US Tax Guide for Aliens," available through the Internal Revenue Service).
Federal, state and local taxes. Unless you qualify under a tax treaty between the United States and your home government, your earnings as a J-1 student will be subject to applicable federal, state and local taxes. Employers are required by law to withhold those taxes from your paychecks. By April 15 you must file a federal income tax return and a "Required Statement" covering the prior calendar year to determine whether you owe more taxes or have a refund coming. ISO will sponsor a seminar by the IRS before April 15th each year to help you fill out your tax forms.
A Note of Caution
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.