J-1 Student Employment

J-1 Student Employment

Students holding J-1 visa status may work in the United States, both on and off-campus, but may only do so with prior authorization from their visa sponsor. The following information describes policies and procedures for individuals who have J-1 visa sponsorship from the University of Massachusetts Amherst (the DS-2019 must have been issued by UMass). If your visa sponsor is not UMass - for example IIE - you must obtain authorization directly from that sponsor. Our office cannot authorize employment for any student not sponsored by UMass.

Dependents (spouse, children 15-21) of J-1 holders are eligible to work with special permission. The IPO cannot advise on J-2 applications as they are personal application. More information is available here.


On-Campus

Students may work anywhere on the UMass campus and must report assistantships, fellowships, scholarships, and on-campus employment. Employment is limited to 20 hours per week (including assistantships) while school is in session, 40 hours a week during vacation periods (Thanksgiving Break, Winter Break, Spring Break, Summer). Employment at one of the other Five Colleges requires Academic Training approval.

Authorization is employer and date specific. For example, if you are authorized to work at Dining Services for August 27-December 13, you cannot work for another employer or outside those dates without additional authorization. Resubmit the J-1 Student Employment Authorization Form for additional authorization.

To apply, submit the J-1 Student Employment Authorization E-Form.

Please note that it will take 2 to 3 business days to process your application.


Off-Campus

Academic Training (AT) is off-campus training related to a J-1 student's field of study at UMass.

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.

Spring 2021 AT workshops are available. If you have any additional questions, please email your IPO advisor.

ISS Critical Updates

  • You are primarily in the U.S. to study
  • Your proposed Academic Training is related to your field of study
  • You are in good academic standing
  • You have received authorization from the IPO
  • May be paid or unpaid
    • For AT after program completion, personal funding must be shown if unpaid.
  • You may have several training opportunities
  • You may have multiple academic training authorizations at one time or back to back
  • Authorization is employer and time specific—you CANNOT conduct training outside of your approval dates or with a different employer. Each AT segment needs its own authorization.
  • Employment at one of the other Five Colleges requires Academic Training approval
  • AT may be utilized during or after your program of study (or both). If after, employment must begin within 30 days of completion of studies (which may or may not correspond to the program ending date on your DS-2019). Your completion of studies is determined by your requirements begin fulfilled by your graduate program, or last day of finals. Please keep in mind there is no grace period after your completion of studies to apply for Academic Training.

​​​Time Limitations:

  • Generally authorized for a maximum of 18 months or a period equal to the program of study, whichever is less
    • Doctoral Students exception: doctoral students who plan to pursue post-doctoral training are permitted a maximum period of 36 months.
    • Time limits are cumulative
      • Any AT conducted prior to the completion of study will be deducted from the allowable time and only the months remaining may be used following the completion of a degree.

Academic Training may only be conducted:

  • School year = part-time (no more than 20 hours)
  • Vacation periods (Thanksgiving, Winter Break, Spring Break, Summer) = full-time
  • Full Time allowed following program completion

Exceptions to part time include:

  • Graduate students who have completed all coursework for the degree and plan to conduct research while on pre-completion AT that will assist them in the development of their thesis/dissertation. Time is limited to 18 months unless program has completed.
  • Undergraduate students who conduct internships that are required in their program or for which they will receive credit

Medical Coverage Requirement

The Exchange Visitor regulations require all J-1 and J-2 visa holders to maintain medical coverage throughout their stay in the U.S. The medical coverage guidelines can be found here. Your student health insurance will end if you are graduating from UMass Amherst and you will need to find additional coverage to start as soon as it has ended. For questions regarding the end date of your coverage, please contact UHS. If your employer does not offer health insurance, you can find alternative coverage here.

IPO processing time is 2-3 business days.

If you are applying for AT following the completion of your degree, you must apply BEFORE completing your program. We cannot add AT to DS-2019s that have already expired.

Prior to submitting your J-1 Academic Training Authorization Form: be prepared to submit the following:

Your employment offer letter.  It should include the following:

  • the employer’s letterhead
  • name and complete address of the employer
  • a brief job description
  • exact dates of proposed employment
  • salary
  • signature of the supervisor, department head, HR representative or appropriate representative of the employer

Your Academic Advisor listed on your E-form will be contacted to confirm the academic nature of your proposed training. You should contact them once you have submitted your form.

Submit your Academic Training Request Form here.

You must apply for your AT before the last day of final exams; you may only be authorized a period of AT equivalent to the period of your exchange program at UMass; and you must present a letter from your home university confirming that the proposed job is related to your field of studies and recommending that you be allowed to accept this opportunity.

See more information at Application Process.

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 IPO. If you leave that employer, start with a new employer, or leave the U.S. and will no longer use AT, you must notify the IPO.

It is important that you do not begin any employment until you have received a new DS-2019 Form from the IPO and the start date is current.

Reporting Residential Address Changes

You must report to the IPO your current residential addresses, and any future changes of address within 10 days of the change by keeping SPIRE (add SPIRE link) up to date. You will continue to have access while on your AT.

Work Authorization while on AT

Each AT authorization you receive from the IPO 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, then apply for AT authorization for your new employer.

If you are extending an AT authorization, you must submit an updated AT application to the IPO before the end date of your current AT authorization. Please keep in mind that we cannot extend if requests are submitted after the current AT end date.

Evaluation

Each time you end a position while on AT, you must submit an Evaluation eForm to the IPO. “The sponsor must evaluate the effectiveness and appropriateness of the academic training in achieving the stated goals and objectives in order to ensure the quality of the academic training program.” [22 CFR 62.23(f)(6)]

Reporting Changes to Your Visa Status

If you are changing your status from an F-1, J-1, etc. to an H-1b, Permanent Resident, etc. please submit this information using the Change of Status E-Form. The IPO will update SPIRE and your SEVIS record as needed.

  • 12 Month Bar: Please keep in mind that students in J-1 categories of Student BachelorsStudent MastersStudent DoctorateStudent Non-Degree (whose stay exceeds 6 months) will have a 12 month bar on participation in a J-1 status of Research Scholar or Professor. There is no waiver for this. Please update the IPO if you do leave your employment early and depart the U.S. as the end date will need to be updated and will allow the 12-month bar to begin.
  • Two-Year Home Country Residency Requirement [INA 212(e)]: You will become subject if your J-1 program is funded by either your government or the US government, involves specialized knowledge or skills deemed necessary by your home country, or if you come to the US for graduate medical training. If this requirement applies to you, you must return to your home country for a cumulative total of two years at the end of your J-1 program. You are not prohibited from traveling to the US but you may not benefit from certain employment-based or family-based visas until the requirement is satisfied. This requirement currently applies to all dependents in J-2 status under the J-1. To verify if you are subject, please confirm by looking at your J-1 visa stamp and/or the consulate signature section on your original DS-2019.

Q: I’m ending my current employment before the requested Academic Training date, however I don’t have another employer lined up yet. Is there unemployment time available?

A: No. If you are currently on AT during your program, you will need to update IPO so we can shorten your AT in SEVIS. Please contact your IPO advisor as soon as possible.

If you are on AT after you have completed your program, you will need to find another Academic Training opportunity to follow the end of your current. There is no “unemployment” and there can be no gap in your Academic Training dates.

Q: My university medical insurance is ending, and my employer does not offer medical coverage. Do I still need to have this?

A: Yes! Under J-1 regulations all J-1 holders are required to meet the mandatory medical coverage at all times. There cannot be a gap in your coverage. Please see 1(f) on the second page of your J-1 DS-2019 for current information. You can also find information on our website here

Q: I have J-2 dependents, are they required to have medical coverage while I am on Academic Training?

A. Yes! All J visa holders in the U.S. must comply with the medical coverage requirement.

Q: I’m currently on a postdoctoral appointment and reaching the 36-month limit of my AT. My employer has offered to extend my Postdoc appointment. Can I switch to another J-1 category, such as Research Scholar?

A: No. After the completion date of your J-1 in your category, you will be required to observe a 12-month bar before you are eligible for a J-1 in Research Scholar or Professor categories. There are no waivers for this.

Q: Do I need anything specific to travel?

A: You will need to have your most up to date J-1 DS-2019 with valid travel signature. Please also carry proof of your affiliation with the employer listed on the DS-2019. You may also need to renew your visa stamp if it has expired for international travel.

Q: Can I do more than 20 hours of AT while I’m currently enrolled in my program?

A: Although all AT is considered Full Time, current students are still subject to the 20-hour minimum. Exceptions would include school breaks.

Q: Can I be self-employed while on AT?

A: We do not recommend this. Department of State has not explicitly stated this is not allowed. However, it is highly unlikely it can be shown there is a ‘training supervisor’ if you are self-employed.