J-1 Academic Training

Students must not pursue any off-campus employment without proper authorization. Authorization must be received before beginning any off-campus work, internship, or related employment activity. Pursuing off-campus employment activity without proper authorization could jeopardize the ability to complete your MIT academic program and any future U.S. visas. 

The U.S. Department of State Exchange Visitor Program regulations allow J-1 student visa holders to apply for Academic Training (AT) before and/or after completion of their program of studies.

Only students pursuing a degree are allowed to apply for Academic Training. Students become eligible for AT after they have been in lawful, full-time student status for one full academic year.

The cumulative period of Academic Training is 18 months, unless the student is pursuing a program that requires fewer than 18 months, in which case the period of Academic Training is shortened accordingly. The period of Academic Training cannot be longer than the period of time the student takes to complete his/her program of studies. For example, a student who completes a Master’s degree in one academic year (10 months) is allowed only 10 months of Academic Training authorization.

Students who complete a Ph.D. program may be eligible for an additional 18 months of Academic Training authorization for post-doctoral training opportunities after completion of degree (for a total maximum of Academic Training based on the Ph.D. degree equal to 36 months).

Below are some common questions that students ask about J-1 Academic Training, followed by general answers to those questions. On the reverse side is an explanation of how to apply for Academic Training. If you are a J-1 MIT student and would like information about Academic Training, please come to the MIT International Students Office and make an appointment to speak with an International Student Advisor.

Q. Who qualifies for Academic Training?

A. Students who are degree candidates and in good academic standing can apply for Academic Training before completion of studies. Students who have completed all of their requirements, including thesis, are eligible to apply for post-completion Academic Training.

Q. How soon into an academic program are students eligible to obtain Academic Training authorization?

A. J-1 visa regulations do not specify how long in an academic program a student must be enrolled before being eligible to apply for J-1 Academic Training. Eligibility is dependent upon the student’s academic program as to when the program will support a student pursuing an internship or other off-campus experience directly related to their program of study (whether that be a required experience for the academic program, or an elective experience desired by the student). Academic programs at MIT generally require a student to complete at least one academic year (2 terms — Fall and Spring) before being eligible for Academic Training authorization. Some programs that have required internships may allow for earlier pursuit of an off-campus experience. From a visa status perspective, the expectation is that a student must complete at least one academic term in their degree program, to have background in their field of study, before being eligible to apply for Academic Training. Please consult with your academic department administrator and your ISO Advisor if you have any questions about J-1 status and pursuing internship/experiential learning opportunities.

Q. How many hours can students work?

A. J-1 Academic Training can be authorized for Full-time employment during vacation periods (Summer Vacation), and up to 20 hours per week maximum when school is in session (Fall and Spring semesters). All authorizations require the support/approval of your academic program and must be directly related to your field of study and furthering your specific academic experience.

Q. Is the period of Academic Training used during the summer subtracted from the 18 months total?

A. Yes. Any period of pre-completion Academic Training is subtracted from the total of 18 months (or fewer, depending on the length of the program).

Q. Is there a deadline for applying for post-completion Academic Training?

A. Yes. Students have only 30 days after completion of their program of studies to apply for and receive authorization for Academic Training. For post-degree completion Academic Training, the activity/internship/experience must be authorized within 30 days of the program completion date at MIT.  Since you must first meet with an International Student Advisor and then wait to receive authorization, it is recommended that you make an appointment well in advance of the 30 days.

Q. Is there any way to extend the deadline, if students are late with the application?

A. Unfortunately no, because the 30-day deadline is specified in federal regulations.

Q. Do students need to have a job offer before applying for Academic Training?

A. Yes. Students must have a specific training offer, so that their academic advisor is able to write a detailed letter of recommendation.

Q. How long does it take to receive authorization for Academic Training?

A. Academic Training authorization will be granted to students within two weeks of the date of their appointment at the ISO, provided the International Student Advisor has all the necessary information.

Please note: If MIT is not your J-1 program sponsor, the ISO cannot authorize Academic Training for you. You must contact your J-1 visa program sponsor (who issued your Form DS-2019) to confirm if you are eligible for Academic Training authorization and the procedures to complete with your sponsor to secure the Academic Training authorization.

How to Apply

To apply for Academic Training, submit your application online at iMIT.mit.edu; choose “J-1 Student Services”, then “Academic Training.”

It will take the ISO up to 10 business days to prepare your new Form DS-2019 with AT recommendation and ISO authorization letter. To request Academic Training, please follow the instructions in iMIT and prepare/provide the following documents.

  1. For post-completion Academic Training, a check or money order for $150 payable to “MIT” for the initial period of up to 18 months, or $200 for a requested period over 18 months of post-doctoral Academic Training
  2. Copy of current Form I-94 arrival record
  3. Copy of passport identity pages (including full name, photo, date of birth, passport number, passport issue and expiration dates)
  4. Copy of current J-1 visa from passport issued by U.S. Consulate abroad (visa can be valid or expired)
  5. Previous Academic Training authorizations
  6. Copy of official job/internship offer letter (not email) from host company/organization/institution for which the Academic Training authorization is being requested; be sure the letter includes details of position title, location/address of activity, dates of activity, outline of position duties, name/phone number/email of supervisor
  7. A detailed letter of recommendation from their academic advisor The letter, typed on departmental letterhead, must include the following five points:
    1. Student’s Academic Standing:
      (a) the student is in good academic standing (for prior to completion of degree) or the student’s date of completion of program, including thesis (for after completion of degree), and
      (b) that the Academic Training is directly related to his/her field of study.
    2. Specific goals and objectives of the Academic Training
    3. Description of the Academic Training, including the company or organization’s street address, name and address of the training supervisor, number of hours per week, and dates of employment
    4. Explanation of how the Academic Training relates to the student’s major field of study
    5. Why the Academic Training is an integral or critical part of the student’s academic program

Reporting Requirements while on Academic Training

Students in J-1 status authorized for employment under Academic Training are responsible for maintaining their nonimmigrant status. According to Federal Regulations, J-1 students are required to report information directly to the ISO regarding their employment, as well as changes to personal information and immigration status. Failure to comply with these reporting requirements may result in denial of future benefits and termination of status and AT authorization. 

Click on J-1 Academic Training Reporting Requirements for detailed information on how to report your information.

IMPORTANT: During the duration of your studies, as well as your Academic Training period, you are required to inform both the ISO and the USDHS/SEVIS of any address change — temporary or otherwise — within 10 days. You may inform the ISO by updating your address on WEBSIS. If you no longer have access to WEBSIS, go to the J-1 Academic Training Reporting Requirements page for information on how to report your new address. Failure to report an address change in a timely manner could result in loss of your Academic Training authorization and, possibly, loss of your legal status in the United States.

IMPORTANT: As an international student at MIT, you are responsible for maintaining your own legal status. This means you must ensure that you are registered full-time every semester, and that the validity of your immigration documents does not expire. Be certain to report any changes in your academic level, funding, and/or completion of studies date within a timely manner to the ISO. If you allow the date on your Form DS-2019 to expire, you will fall out of legal status and may suffer serious consequences.