Academic Training For Students in J-1 Status
"Academic Training" is the name used by the Department of State for certain types of study-related employment. This applies only to J-1 students. Certain conditions must be met in order to qualify for "Academic Training," and the steps to apply follow.
Academic Training is flexible in its format and offers a variety of training opportunities to supplement a J-1 student's academic program in the United States. It is available both before and after the completion of an academic program of study. As long as students stay within the stipulated time limits, Academic Training allows them to work part-time while classes are in session and full-time during vacation periods and fulltime after degree completion. J-1 graduate students in non-degree programs also are eligible for "Academic Training”. Please note that if your non-degree program does not have an academic training component, your Duke Visa Services Advisor cannot approve Academic Training.
Duke Visa Services Advisor (J-1 Alternate Responsible Officer)
To qualify for Academic Training, students must first obtain written approval and an updated DS-2019 from their Duke Visa Services Advisors (Alternate Responsible Officers) who are designated by the Department of State to issue Form DS-2019s for Duke University. The Duke Visa Services Advisor must evaluate the proposed employment in terms of a student's program of study and individual circumstances, confirm with the Academic Advisor that the program is integral to the student’s academic program and decide whether the employment is appropriate or not. For Duke-sponsored J-1 students, Duke Visa Services Advisors can assist students with the Academic Training process.. For students sponsored by other agencies (i.e. Fulbright Program, LASPAU, etc.), they must contact the agencies directly, for only their representatives can approve "Academic Training."
J-1 students who are in the post-secondary academic categories should not be teaching in U.S. pre-kindergarten or K-12 schools. The “Teacher” category is the only Exchange Visitor category that allows exchange visitors to serve as a lead teacher (teacher on record) in public and private U.S. pre-kindergarten or K-12 schools. Duke does not have a “Teacher” category so our J-1 exchange visitors should not accept teaching positions at pre-kindergarten and/or K-12 schools.
Clinical house staff employment is allowed on this visa ONLY if the student has used this visa to obtain a medical degree from a U.S. medical school. Foreign medical graduates whose J-1 visas are for Ph.D. programs may not use their practical training for clinical house staff employment. The students must have prior written approval for academic training from their exchange visitor program's Responsible or Alternate Responsible Officer.
The Application Process
There are 3 major steps in the Academic Training Process.
The student must gather and upload the required documentation to the Terra Dotta Portal (TDS) BEFORE the New Form DS-2019 with the Academic Training approval is issued. The student’s Duke Academic Advisor must also submit a recommendation for Academic Training. Details on how to send the electronic recommendation request to the Academic Advisor will be in the TDS Portal. While the information on this website provides an overview of the Academic Training process, please click here for access to the TDS Portal. Students will be directed to log in with their Duke NetID and password. PLEASE DO NOT CREATE A NEW ACCOUNT. Any questions about using our online TDS Portal for the Academic Training request can be answered by each student’s Duke Visa Services (DVS) Advisor. DVS Assigned Advisors are listed on the Department Liaisons page.
After uploading the documentation to the TDS Portal and verifying that the student’s Academic Advisor has submitted the electronic recommendation, the student must alert his/her DVS Assigned Advisor by email notification that the required documentation was uploaded to the TDS Portal. The DVS advisor will review the documentation. If the appropriate documentation is uploaded and the student meets the qualifications, the DVS advisor will issue a NEW DS-2019 with the Academic Training Approval on page 1. The DVS advisor will send email instructions on how to receive the DS-2019.
After completing Steps 1 and 2, you must submit evidence of insurance coverage as required by the U.S. Department of State. If you have additional questions, you can contact your Duke Visa Services Advisor.
- Student's primary purpose in the United State must be study rather than to be employed.
- Student must be in good academic standing at the school named on the Form DS-2019.
- The proposed employment must be directly related to a student's major field of study.
- Throughout the Academic Training period, student must maintain permission to remain in the United States (maintain J-1 student status) and apply for extensions as necessary.
- Student must maintain health insurance and medical evacuation/repatriation coverage for themselves and any J-2 dependents through the Academic Training period.
- Student's 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. However, for Ph.D. students, their "post-doctoral training" may last as long as 36 months.
- Part-time employment for Academic Training counts against the 18 or 36-month limit the same as full-time employment.
- Earning more than one degree does not increase a student's eligibility for Academic Training.
After Completion of a Student's Program of Study
- Academic Training approved after completion of the academic program must be reduced by any prior periods of Academic Training.
- Whether the other items in the application are ready or not, a student must obtain a written offer of appropriate employment and present a copy to the Alternate J-1 Responsible Officer no later than his/her graduation date (degree program) or the last day of final examinations (non-degree program).
- If students plan to leave the United States after completing their programs of study and reenter the country for J-1 "Academic Training," they must obtain employment authorization and a new Form DS-2019 before leaving. If this is not done, there is no basis for being eligible for readmission.
- A student must obtain a letter of offer from a prospective employer that includes:
- Job title.
- A brief description of the "goals and objectives" of the "Training Program" (i.e. employment).
- The dates and location of the employment.
- The number of hours per week.
- The name and address of the "training supervisor" (quotations come from the regulations).
- The salary amount to be paid must be included to insure that personal living expense obligations can be met. (Proof of funding must be presented to cover living expenses before a new DS-2019 can be issued.).
- All elements must be present in order for the employer's letter to be acceptable.
- Employer's letter must be presented to a student's academic advisor or dean for use in writing to Duke's Alternate J-1 Responsible Officer recommending the "Academic Training". The student will send the Academic Advisor an email link through TDS with the information the Academic Advisor must provide as part of the Academic Training process. The following information must be provided through the TDS portal:
- Goals and objectives of the specific training program.
- A description of the training program, including its location, the name and address of the training supervisor, the number of hours per week, and the dates of the training.
- How the training relates to the student's major field of study.
- Why the training will serve as an integral or critical part of the student's academic program.
- When the academic advisor's recommendation is submitted to TDS, the student should verify the employment letter and all other required documentation is uploaded to TDS and email the DVS advisor that the application is ready for review.
- The DVS Advisor evaluate the Academic Training program and decide whether it is warranted and appropriate. If so, a letter of approval will be written that will serve as the official work authorization document. At this same time, an updated DS-2019 should be issued.
- Academic Training must be applied for and approved BEFORE the end of the J-1 student's academic program.
Authorization to Work
A Social Security Number
To put you on the payroll, an employer must have your Social Security number, which you can obtain by applying for a Social Security card. If you do not already have a Social Security Number, take your passport, your I-94 Departure Record card, the DS-2019, and the DVS Advisors written work authorization to an office of the Social Security Administration. Your Social Security card may be stamped "Valid Employment only with INS or DHS approval." In the case of J-1 "Academic Training," this stamp means that the Social Security card is valid for working only if accompanied by a properly completed DS-2019 and a valid I-94 Departure Record card.
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 card, the DS-2019, and the DVS Advisor’s written work authorization. Your employer, who keeps the Form I-9 on file, may make copies of the documents you submit and should return your original documents to you. Form I-9 is date specific and 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 (F.I.C.A.) taxes for your first five (5) 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 Income 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 income taxes, and employers are required by law to withhold those taxes from your paychecks. By April 15 of each year, 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 if you have a refund coming.
Note of Caution!
J-1 students are eligible for a variety of work opportunities in the United States, but employment without proper authorization is a serious violation of status. Remember that before starting any kind of employment, you first must consult your Duke Visa Services Advisor, whose written approval is necessary in advance. This information is adapted from material produced by NAFSA: Association of International Educators.