Academic Training is designed to provide J-1 students with employment experience to complement their programs of study in the United States. Therefore, the work done during Academic Training must be directly related to the student's field of study, and it must be commensurate with their level of education. Students may engage in Academic Training during their academic program and/or after the completion of the program as long as the total amount of training does not exceed the prescribed time limitations indicated below. Please note that Academic Training cannot be authorized for permanent employment.
A J-l student is eligible for Academic Training if he or she:
- is in good academic standing or has successfully completed a program of study;
- is participating in Academic Training that is directly related to his or her major field of study;
- is authorized in advance to engage in Academic Training through written approval of the Responsible Officer (for Harvard students under Harvard's J-l Exchange Visitor program sponsorship, the Responsible Officer would be an advisor in the HIO).
Academic Training can be authorized for the following time periods:
- Undergraduate programs: 18 months
- Two year Master's programs: 18 months
Students enrolled in degree programs that are less than 18 months can be authorized Academic Training only for the time equal to or less than the length of their programs.
- Doctorate programs: up to 36 months of Academic Training, out of which only 18 months may be used before the completion of study. Please note that a maximum of 18 months of Academic Training can be authorized at a time.
If you are a graduating student using post-completion Academic Training, you must submit the necessary paperwork to the HIO before the program completion date indicated on item 3 of your Form DS-2019, if possible. In any case, you must submit the application no later than 30 days after the completion date, or you will be ineligible to apply for AT.
Please note, HIO requires up to 10 business days processing time from the day the application is submitted. You cannot start working until you have the HIO authorization.
How to Apply
The following instructions are for the students whose Forms DS-2019 are issued by Harvard University. If your Form DS-2019 is issued by another organization such as Fulbright you must contact that organization for instructions.
Step 1: Obtain an offer for a job or internship in the U.S. related to your field of study at Harvard.
Step 2: Download the Academic Training Application Form. Note that this form requires information to be completed and signed by you, your employer, and your academic advisor at Harvard:
- Section 1 must be completed and signed first by you, after receiving an employment offer
- Section 2 must be completed and signed by your employer
- Section 3 must be completed and signed by your school. Take the application form to your academic advisor at your school and ask him/her to complete the form, sign it, and return it to you. HBS students must go to the MBA Registrar Services Office for the signature.
Please note: you do not need to include a copy of your offer letter to apply for AT. The completed Academic Training Application Form is the only required document for the HIO.
Step 3: For post-completion AT only, you must pay a one-time fee of $150 to the HIO. The HIO charges a one-time, non-refundable fee of $150 for processing post-completion AT applications and maintaining SEVIS records for the length of the AT experience, which can run from 9 months up to 36 months following graduation.
You may pay the fee through one of the following options:
- Online credit card payment via Touchnet
- Personal check or money order payment of $150 made payable to Harvard University
Step 4: Submit your application to the HIO. You may drop off the completed application form to the HIO in person or email the application to your HIO Advisor. It is not necessary to have an appointment with your HIO advisor to apply for AT.
If you are a graduating student using post-completion AT, you must submit the necessary paperwork to the HIO before the program completion date indicated on item 3 of your Form DS-2019.
If you change employers after the AT authorization, you will need to repeat this procedure to reflect the new employer, but you would not have to pay the fee again.
Post-Completion AT Rules and Reporting Requirements
Failure to comply with the Academic Training rules and reporting requirements may constitute a status violation; such violations may have negative consequences for your current immigration status or result in delays and denials of future immigration benefits. Your Academic Training authorization is based off the job offer you presented to the HIO. If you leave that employer, start with a new employer, or leave the U.S. and will no longer use AT, you must notify that HIO.
It is important that you do not begin any employment until you have received a new DS-2019 Form from the HIO, and the start date is current.
Reporting Residential Address Information
You must report to the HIO your current residential addresses, and any future changes of address within 10 days of the change by using the online Change of Address Form.
Work Authorization While on AT
Each AT authorization you receive from the HIO is specific to one employer and one position only.
- If you work for multiple employers simultaneously, you must apply for AT authorization for each position.
- If you change employers, you must submit an evaluation for the employment that is ending, and apply for AT authorization for your new employer
- If you are extending an AT authorization, you must submit an updated AT application to the HIO before the end date of your current AT authorization
Please review the “Acceptable Types AT Employment” section of this site for additional information.
Each time you end a position while on AT, you must submit an evaluation to the HIO.
Heath Insurance Requirements
The Exchange Visitor regulations require all J-1 and J-2 visa holders to maintain health insurance throughout their stay in the U.S. The health insurance guidelines can be found here. Your student health insurance will end on July 31 after you graduate in May (or January 31 for those who graduate in November or March). If your employer does not offer you health insurance, you can find alternative coverage here.
Reporting Changes to your Visa Status or Plans in the U.S.
You must notify the HIO if you have changed to a different visa status (i.e. H-1B, TN, E-3, Green Card, etc.) OR if you have permanently departed the U.S. and will no longer use AT or J-1 status. Please email your HIO advisor directly about these changes.
Acceptable Types of AT Employment
All work done during Academic Training must be directly related to the student's field of study, and it must be commensurate with their level of education. The following list describes acceptable forms of employment under AT:
- Full or part time employment
- Paid employment
- Unpaid employment. You may work as a volunteer or unpaid intern, where this practice does not violate any labor laws.
- Multiple simultaneous employers. You may work for more than one employer, but ALL employment must be related to your major field of study and degree program, and you must receive authorization from the HIO for each employer.
- Multiple consecutive employers. As a reminder, you can change employers, but you cannot begin new employment until you submit an evaluation for the first employer and submit a new application for AT to the HIO.
- Self-Employment is not permitted on AT, as it requires a training plan and supervision.
Travel on Post-Completion Academic Training
For information on traveling after graduation while on Post-Completion Academic Training, please click here.