Information for J-1 Visa Holders: Lehigh's J-1 Academic Training Guidelines
WHAT IS ACADEMIC TRAINING?
Academic training is training directly related to an individual’s major field of study at a post-secondary accredited educational institution listed on the Form DS-2019.
The Office of International Students and Scholars can authorize training only if the DS-2019 was issued by Lehigh University. If your DS-2019 was issued by a sponsoring organization like IIE, AMIDEAST, LASPAU, or AID, you should contact your program sponsor for application forms and instructions.
A student may participate in academic training programs during his or her studies, without wages or other remuneration, with the approval of the academic dean or advisor and the responsible officer (RO). A student may be authorized to participate in academic training programs for wages or other remuneration during their studies, or not later than thirty (30) days after completion of studies, if the criteria, time limitations, procedures, and evaluations are satisfied, such as:
- Primary purpose in the United States must be study rather than “Academic Training”;
- Must be in good academic standing;
- Proposed employment must be directly related to your major field of study;
- Throughout your approved training, you have maintained permission to stay in the U.S., in J-1 student status, and apply for extensions as necessary;
- Must maintain health insurance coverage for yourself and any dependents throughout your training
- 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. Academic Training may not exceed “the period of 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. Additional “Academic Training” beyond the 18-month limit is allowed only if it is required for the degree and is overseen by an advisor.
- Part-time employment for training counts against the 18 or 36-month 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 the Responsible Officer no later than 30 days after the end of your program, or you will lose eligibility for “Academic Training”. (Note: The DS-2019 must be valid at the time of request).
- If you plan to leave the U.S. after you complete your program of study and reenter the country for J-1 Academic Training, you must obtain employment authorization before you leave.
APPLICATION PROCEDURE for Before and After Completion of Program Academic Training:
- You must present to ISS a letter from your academic department stating that you have been in good academic standing and to the best of the advisors knowledge the training is not available in the students home country and the training is directly related to the students academic program. (Form attached (PDF))
- In addition you must present to ISS a job offer in form of a letter from your employer stating your goals an objectives of the training, a description of the training program (including your title; name and address of the employment, number of hours; begin and end dates of employment; how the employment relates the students major field of study; duties of position and why it is an integral or critical part of the program of the exchange visitor student must be submitted to both the responsible officer and your academic advisor. (sample attached (PDF))
- ISS will evaluate both of the above letters and decide if the training is appropriate. If so, a letter of approval authorizing the training will be issued along with a new DS-2019 for the training time. The approval letter you will receive will be employer specific, therefore, if you switch jobs the process must be repeated and a new letter issued to you before you may begin work at the new employer.
TRAVEL ABROAD AND RE-ENTERING THE UNITED STATES
J-1 students engaged in academic training can reenter the United States as long as the DS-2019 is valid and signed for travel, the entry visa stamp is valid and the individual has a valid passport. However, you are strongly advised to consult with the ISS Office before traveling to make sure your documents are in order.
SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBER
If you work in the U.S., you need a valid Social Security Number. To apply, please stop by ISS for information on how to apply for a SSN.
FORM I-9 “Employment Eligibility Verification”
When you begin work, you and your employer must complete Form I-9, which require 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 DS-2019, and the written work authorization letter. Your employer keeps Form I-9 but will make copies of the documents you submit and return the originals to you. The Form I-9 is updated any time that you receive a renewal of your permission for Academic Training.
In general, J-1 students who have been in the U.S. for less than five years are exempt from social security taxes (also known as F.I.C.A. tax) and Medicare taxes. You should be sure to notify your employer of this exemption because many employers are not familiar with this provision of the tax laws. The information is located in Tax Publication 519. J 1 students authorized for academic training employment are subject to all other taxes that may apply: federal, state and local.
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 the Responsible Office for written approval as necessary in advance.