J-1 Student Employment: Academic Training
Please note that these instructions are intended for J-1 students on the Cornell J program. If you are a J-1 student but your DS-2019 is issued by an agency or institution other than Cornell, you must contact your program sponsor to gain authorization for academic training.
- I. What is Academic Training?
- II. Who May Engage in Academic Training?
- III. Approval from your J-1 Responsible Officer
- IV. Eligibility
- V. Duration of Academic Training
- VI. How to Apply
- VI. Authorization to Work
- VII. Social Security and Other Taxes
- Never Work without PRIOR Authorization
Academic training is a type of employment directly related to your major area of study that is authorized by your J-1 program sponsor who issues your DS-2019 form. It is designed for students to apply knowledge and skills learned at school.
All J-1 students in degree or non-degree programs may apply for academic training either during the course of study or after completion of studies. Students may work part-time while school is in session and full-time during the summer and winter breaks.
To qualify for "academic training," you must first obtain approval in writing from the ISSO. If your J-1 sponsor is another agency, and if you are uncertain how to reach your J-1 Responsible Officer, the staff at the ISSO can help you find out, but has no authority to grant employment permission.
- You must be in good academic standing at the school named on your Form 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 extensions as necessary.
- You must maintain health insurance coverage for yourself and any 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 your academic adviser and your Responsible Officer. It may not exceed the amount of time it took for you to complete your 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, provided you have a postdoctoral position in an academic institution.
- Part-time employment for "Academic Training" counts against the 18 or 36 month limit the same as full-time employment.
- You may have only one opportunity for Academic Training regardless how many degrees you receive.
- Academic Training before completion of studies will be deducted from the total 18 or 36 months.
- You must apply for Academic Training before the ending date on your DS-2019.
- A job offer letter from your prospective employer that includes: 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, salary, 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. (See the sample job offer letter in the academic training application packet.
- Academic advisors recommendation. Give a copy of your employer's letter to your academic adviser for use in completing the advisor's recommendation form which is in the academic training application packet..
- Bring the job offer letter and the advisor's recommendation form to the ISSO. The ISSO advisor will write you a letter authorizing the academic training. The ISSO may also issue you a new DS-2019 form extended for your academic training, for no more than 18 months at a time.
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 card, the pink copy of your Form DS-2019, and a letter at the ISSO 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 (or other photo-bearing identification if you are Canadian), I-94 Departure Record card, the pink copy of 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 any time that you receive a renewal of your permission for "Academic Training."
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. Unless you qualify under a tax treaty between the United States and your home government, your earnings as a J-1 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 of each year you must file a federal income tax return covering the prior calendar year to determine whether you owe more taxes or have a refund coming.
As a J-1 student, you may be eligible for employment 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.