Working on a J Visa – J1 and J2 Explained

As an international student studying in the United States, you may be interested in working during your studies to help supplement your finances. If you are in the US on a J1 visa, you are eligible for both on campus and off campus employment.

On Campus Employment

Students studying in the US under a J1 visa are immediately eligible for on campus employment. This type of employment does not require approval from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), but you may be required to obtain permission from your school’s International Student Office before accepting on campus employment, and they may not permit you to work during your first semester or year in the US. Additionally, you may find that on campus employment is limited, and that it will not provide much income.

On campus employment requires that you adhere to several rules and regulations. You must maintain valid J1 status; you may not displace (take a job away from) a US student; and you can only work part-time (20 hours per week) except during breaks where you can work full-time.

Academic Training

Academic Training (AT) is the name used by the US Department of State for certain types of study-related employment for J1 students. It is the most common type of off campus employment for J1 students. AT is flexible and offers a variety of employment situations to help supplement your studies.

The requirements for AT eligibility are:

  • Your primary purpose in the US must be to study, rather than engage in AT.
  • You must be in good academic standing.
  • Your proposed employment must be directly related to your field of study.
  • A job offer letter is required in order to apply. It is possible to have multiple employers at the same time, but each period of employment must be approved before you begin work.
  • You will need to complete an AT application for each employer.
  • You must receive approval from your International Student Office before beginning employment.
  • You must maintain valid J1 status throughout your AT and must apply for extensions as necessary. You must also maintain the required health insurance for yourself and your J2 dependents.

Time Limitations for Academic Training

AT is available to you before the completion of your study program, as well as afterwards. Before completion of your program, your allowed hours per week and the duration of the training program are determined by your academic dean or advisor. After graduation, the time limits are as follows:

  • Bachelor’s and master’s students are eligible for up to 18 months of AT or the length of your time in J1 status, whichever is shorter (for example, a 9-month program means 9 months of AT eligibility).
  • Doctoral students are eligible for 18 months, as well as an additional 18 months following the completion of their program, meaning a total of 36 possible months.
  • Exchange students are eligible for AT corresponding to the amount of time in the program.

Earning more than one degree does not increase your eligibility for AT. AT undertaken after completion of your program will be reduced by any prior periods of AT you may have used. For instance, if you use 3 months for a summer internship while in a bachelor’s program, you will have 15 months left after graduation. Part-time employment counts against the AT limits the same as full-time employment. After completion of your program, AT must be remunerated, meaning you must receive a salary or other compensation for your services.

Post-completion AT must be approved no later than the program end date listed on your DS-2010, or you will lose eligibility for AT.

Working on a J2 Visa

Spouses in J2 status are also eligible for work authorization. The J2 visa holder must obtain an Employment Authorization Document from the Department of Homeland Security, US Citizenship and Immigration Services. Money earned by a J2 visa holder cannot be used to support the principal J1 visa holder.

Watch videos and learn more with our International Financial Aid Resources center

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