Carnegie Mellon University

Academic Training (AT)

As a J-1 student, you may be eligible to participate in Academic Training (AT), which is off-campus work authorization for jobs related to your major field of study. AT is flexible and offers employment to supplement your academic program in the United States. It is available before and/or after completing your program of study. J-1 students may work off-campus in the U.S. with special written work authorization, which your J-1 Alternate Responsible Officer (ARO) issues.

To qualify for AT, you must first obtain written approval from your J-1 ARO, who represents your J-1 sponsor and issues your Form DS-2019. Your ARO will evaluate the proposed employment in terms of your program of study and decide whether it would be appropriate. If Carnegie Mellon issued your DS-2019, your OIE advisor is your J-1 ARO. If another agency issued your DS-2019, your J-1 ARO is at that agency. Even if CMU is not your sponsor, OIE can help you identify your ARO, though we do not have the authority to grant employment permission. Contact your ARO if you have questions about AT or your individual situation.

You have to meet certain eligibility requirements:

  • You must be in the U.S. primarily to study rather than to participate in AT.
  • You need to have a specific position that is directly related to your major field of study. AT authorization is job and employer-specific.
  • If you are applying for AT after completing your program, the position must be paid – it cannot be an unpaid position. Although regulations do not specify the minimum amount of pay, the payment or compensation must meet current federal minimum pay guidelines.
  • You need to be in good academic standing.
  • Before you begin working, you will need written approval, in the form of a new DS-2019, from your J-1 ARO for the duration and type of training.
  • AT authorization is limited to the total period of study for the program or 18 months, whichever is shorter, except for students who complete Ph.D. programs.
  • Students who complete Ph.D. programs are eligible for an additional 18-month period (beyond the first 18 months) for up to 36 months of AT. You will need to request a new DS-2019 form for the second 18-month period.
  • Earning more than one degree does not increase your eligibility for AT. AT is cumulative, so if you use six months of AT after a bachelor’s degree, you have 12 months of AT eligibility remaining if you pursue another degree.
  • All AT is deducted from the total amount of AT you are allowed at a full-time rate. You may participate in AT either during or after your academic program. If you choose to pursue AT during your program, it should not interfere with or delay your studies.
  • Throughout your AT, you must maintain legal J-1 student status in the U.S. You will need to stay up to date with applying for extensions of your DS-2019 before the expiration of the document and maintain health insurance coverage for yourself and any other J-2 dependents.
  • You should begin the application process at least two weeks before you plan to begin employment. AT cannot be authorized after your DS-2019 has expired, so plan accordingly. If you leave the U.S. after completing your studies without applying for AT, you are no longer eligible to apply for the training.
  • Your lawful J-1 status expires 30 days after you complete your degree requirements or at the expiration of your DS-2019 form, whichever is sooner. If you apply for AT, your J status expires 30 days after the program end date listed on the DS-2019 issued for AT.

Provided you meet all the requirements, your J-1 ARO will authorize the training. Apply as soon as you receive the job offer, or at least two weeks before you plan to begin employment. Remember, if you are applying for the AT after completing your studies, you must apply within 30 days of completing the requirements for your degree or before the expiration of your DS-2019, whichever is earlier. To apply, complete the following steps:

1) Obtain an Offer Letter from Your AT Employer

Once you have received a job offer, you will receive a formal offer letter from your employer that you will need to submit to your ARO. Make sure that the offer letter includes all of the following information. If it does not, you will need to request another offer letter from your employer. Your letter must include:

  • Your job title.
  • A brief description of the "goals and objectives" of your employment.
  • The dates and location of the employment, including the projected number of hours per week.
  • The salary amount (this is required if AT is after completion of the academic program).
  • The name and address of your "training supervisor."

2) Receive Your Department's Recommendation

The J regulations require that your academic advisor recommends AT as an integral part of your academic program. If CMU issues your DS-2019, your academic advisor or dean will need to complete the OIE AT Recommendation form. Give a copy of your employment offer letter to your academic advisor to assist them in completing the OIE form. The OIE form meets the requirements of the regulations, which stipulate that the academic advisor's recommendation must establish:

  • What the goals and objectives of the specific training program are.
  • A description of the training program, including its location, the name and address of the training supervisor, number of hours per week, and training dates.
  • How the training relates to your major field of study.
  • Why the AT is an integral or critical part of your academic program.

Your advisor must only approve your AT for the length of time necessary to complete the goals and objectives of the training.

3) Contact Your J-1 Alternate Responsible Officer

For students on CMU-issued DS-2019s, schedule an appointment with your OIE advisor and bring your offer letter, advisor's recommendation form and current passport to the meeting. Make sure your offer letter contains the necessary information. Your J-1 ARO must evaluate the AT program and decide whether it is warranted and appropriate. If so, your J-1 ARO will authorize the AT and issue a new DS-2019.

4) Work Start and End Dates

You can begin working once you have received the new DS-2019 and reached the AT start date. You cannot work past your authorization date unless you are granted another period of AT. To do this, you will need to submit a new application for any new period of AT. AT is a job and employer-specific work permission, so you may only work with the employer indicated on your DS-2019. If you plan to change employers, you will need to apply for AT again and receive new authorization before making the change.

You cannot work under any circumstances until your J-1 Alternate Responsible Officer has authorized you to do so. Working improperly or without authorization is a serious violation of your legal status.