Academic Training for J-1 Students

Academic Training allows eligible J-1 exchange students to gain work experience in their field of study through participation in off-campus internship and employment opportunities.

Academic Training Eligibility

Academic Training is an opportunity offered by the J-1 Exchange Visitor Program that allows exchange students on J-1 visas to participate in off-campus professional development opportunities, such as internships or employment, related to their field of study as indicated on their DS-2019. Academic training may be paid or unpaid, must include an in-person component, and may be conducted anywhere in the United States.

Students may participate in Academic Training during or immediately after their semester(s) of study at SF State. If participating after their studies, students must purchase a health insurance extension and demonstrate additional proof of funding as determined by OIP.

To participate in Academic Training, an exchange student must:

  1. Maintain full-time enrollment (12 units for undergraduate and 8 units for graduate students) each semester with a passing grade for each course.
  2. Maintain a 3.0 GPA.
  3. Demonstrate satisfactory IEEC commitment participation.
  4. Meet all additional J-1 status and SF State Exchange Program requirements.

Failure to meet the above requirements may result in denial or revocation of Academic Training approval.

In order to qualify for Academic Training, the employment or internship opportunity must relate to the field of study indicated on the student’s Form DS-2019. When applying for Academic Training, students must justify how the employment or internship will contribute meaningfully to knowledge, skills, or expertise related to this field. 

Duration

Students may participate in Academic Training for the same period of time they pursued or will pursue courses at SF State.

  • One semester of study at SF State: 16 weeks.
  • Two semesters of study at SF State: 32 weeks.

Duration is determined by weeks employed, NOT hours worked per week. 

Hours

  • While classes are in session: up to 20 hours per week.
  • Holidays and after academic program completion: 20 to 40 hours per week.

Payment

Academic Training my be paid or unpaid. Students receiving payment may not begin Academic Training until they have applied for and received a social security number (SSN).

Students may not apply for an SSN until after OIP has approved their Academic Training application. 

Apply for Academic Training

Step 1

Review the Academic Training requirements on this webpage.

Step 2

Apply for off-campus internship and employment opportunities related to the student's field of study. Opportunities must:

  1. Take place in the United States.
  2. Contain an in-person component (remote/in-person hybrid opportunities are accepted).

Visit Career Services and Leadership Development (CSLD) for help with the job search and interview process.

Step 3

After receiving a job/internship offer, download and complete the Academic Training application. Students should submit their complete applications digitally to exchange@sfsu.edu from their SF State email address.

OIP will process applications within 5 business days.

Step 4

Receive Academic Training authorization via email notification.

Step 5

Purchase an extension to health insurance coverage and proof of additional funding, if requested by OIP.

Step 6

Pick up a new DS-2019, Academic Training authorization letter, and SSN support letter (if receiving payment) at the OIP front desk.

Step 7

If receiving payment, apply for and obtain a Social Security Number (SSN).

Step 8

Complete I-9 paperwork with the employer and begin Academic Training!

Students cannot complete the Academic Training application until after they have received a job or internship offer.

Students may begin submitting Academic Training applications on the first day of classes. Before submitting an Academic Training Application, students must:

  1. Complete the Pre-Arrival Orientation Module.
  2. Attend the International Student Orientation. 
  3. Purchase the required health insurance.
  4. Demonstrate full-time enrollment.
  5. Report their U.S. contact information and emergency contact information.
  6. Complete other arrival tasks as required.

Post-Completion Academic Training

The deadline to submit post-completion Academic Training applications is the last day of classes of the student's final exchange semester at SF State.

Students participating in Academic Training after the end of their academic program must begin Academic Training no later than 30 days after the end of their last semester of study at SF State.

Download the Academic Training Application with detailed instructions below: 

When completing the Academic Training application, students will be asked to provide the following documents:

Employer Offer Letter

The letter must be typed on official company letterhead and contain the following:

  1. The Job/internship title.
  2. A description of the goals and objectives of employment.
  3. The exact dates of employment, number of hours to be worked per week, and monetary compensation.
  4. The name of the company and physical address of employment.
  5. The name, title, contact details, and signature of the internship or employment supervisor.

Academic Endorsement Letter

Only an SF State professor familiar with the student's academic work in their primary field of study should complete this form.

Student Statement

This statement pledges that the student has been and will continue to participate in their IEEC service commitment for the duration of their studies at SF State.

Post-completion Academic Training

Students whose Academic Training will take place after their studies at SF State may be asked to provide the following:

  1. Proof of insurance extension
  2. Proof of sufficient additional funding

OIP will contact the student if additional documents are required. 

Application Approved! What’s Next?

Once the student's application is approved, OIP will provide the following documents:

New DS-2019

The student will receive a new DS-2019 that includes Academic Training approval and extended program dates, if needed.

Work Authorization Letter

The student will receive a letter verifying Academic Training approval. Students should give the original letter to their employer and keep a copy for their records.

SSN Support Letter (if required)

If the student will receive payment, they will receive an SSN Support Letter. This letter is required when applying for an SSN.

J-1 exchange students must maintain SF State-approved health insurance for the duration of their program of study as indicated on their Form DS-2019. Students whose program dates are extended in order to participate in Academic Training after their final semester of study at SF State must purchase an extension to their existing health insurance policy in order to maintain proper J-1 status.

Social Security Number

Students participating in paid Academic Training may not begin working until they obtain a Social Security Number (SSN). Students who need an SSN will be provided with an SSN authorization letter from an OIP exchange student advisor. This letter will allow the student to apply for an SSN at their local Social Security Administration Office. 

Students ready to apply for an SSN should:

  1. Find the nearest Social Security Administration office at https://www.ssa.gov/locator/ and contact them for an appointment.
  2. On the day of the appointment, bring the following documents: DS-2019, passport, I-94, job offer letter, SSN support letter.

It may take several weeks for students to receive their SSN. Students must have an SSN to complete their I-9 Employment Eligibility Verification with their employer and work legally in the United States. 

Form I-9/Employment Eligibility Verification:

Before beginning 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 passport, I-94 Departure Record form, your DS-2019 form, and your J-1 Responsible Officer’s written work authorization. Your employer will provide you with copies of the documents you submit for your I-9. Keep these documents for your records. The Form I-9 must be updated if the student’s Academic Training is extended.

Students are not eligible to apply for an SSN until after they have received Academic Training authorization.

Students who already have an SSN prior to applying for Academic Training may not work until after they have received Academic Training authorization. An SSN is not Work Authorization.

During Academic Training

Students must report any changes to their U.S. street address, primary email, or primary phone number to OIP within 10 days of the change.

Additionally, students must notify OIP within 10 days if they choose to end their Academic Training early for any reason.

Send all change notifications to exchange@sfsu.edu.

Students participating in Academic Training after their studies will receive a new DS-2019 with extended program dates authorizing them to remain in the U.S. for the duration of the Academic Training period even if their J-1 visa has a expired.

However, students must have a valid visa and travel signature on their DS-2019 if they wish to travel outside the United States and return to continue their J-1 exchange program.

If a student's J-1 visa expires during their Academic Training period and they wish to renew it, the student must do so at a U.S. consulate or embassy outside the U.S. 

Visa renewal is unnecessary if the student does not plan to travel internationally during their Academic Training period.

Academic Training FAQ

No. OIP does not provide career counselling.

Students looking for job application and interview advice should visit the Career Services and Leadership Development website. 

Yes. Students participating in an unpaid internship must obtain Academic Training approval before beginning work. However, volunteer work does not require Academic Training approval.

Visit the Volunteering & Unpaid Internships page to learn about the difference between unpaid internships and volunteering. 

No. Working (paid or unpaid) without OIP authorization is a violation of J-1 visa status.

No.

Potentially, yes. As long as the student receives OIP approval for both Academic Training opportunities and the cumulative number of hours worked per week does not exceed the approved limit, students may participate in more than one Academic Training opportunity simultaneously.  

Visit the Life in San Francisco page to learn more about tax filing requirements for exchange students.

No.

Last updated: December 2021

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