Student Immigration Definitions

Obtaining J-1 Exchange Visitor
Student Category Status at Columbia

Transfer of J-1 Supervision

Change of Status to F-1

Potential Delays in Visa Issuance


Student Tax Information

Message for Canadian Students

Maintaining J-1 Status

DS-2019 Recertification

Health Insurance Overview for J-1 Students

J-1 Travel Information

DHS Information on Arrival Problems

J-1 Extension of Stay (Current Program)

J-1 Extension of Stay to Begin New Program


J-1 Work Opportunities

J-1 On-Campus Work Request

J-1 Academic Training

Employment Authorization for J-2

J-1 Leave of Absence, Suspension or Withdrawal

Student Departure Information

Home Country Residency Requirement

Reduced Course Load Request

Address Change Form

Academic Training Authorization for J-1 Exchange Visitor Student Status

Definition of Academic Training (AT) Employment integral to an exchange visitor's academic program which may occur during and after the completion of studies. Such training may include - but is not limited to - internships, practica, and/or field work.

Requirements for Eligibility

  • Your Certificate of Eligibility (form DS-2019) must be unexpired.
  • You must be in good academic standing.
  • You must participate in AT that is directly related to your field of studies.
  • You must have a firm offer of employment before completion of studies.
  • You must receive written approval, in advance, from your exchange visitor visa supervisor (sponsor). Please Note: Columbia University's J-1 program for fulltime students (P-1-00381) is supervised by the International Students and Scholars Office (ISSO) or the International Affairs Office (IAO). If you are under the sponsorship of any other exchange visitor program (ie.,IIE, AMIDEAST, etc.), you should contact your program sponsor for AT policies, application forms and instructions.]

Academic Training During a Course of Study - Academic training is normally part-time during the academic year, but can be full-time under some circumstances. When classes are in session, you must maintain full-time registration with the University no matter how many hours a week you devote to AT. During vacation periods, you may engage in AT full- or part-time without being registered. Please note that all AT is counted as full time toward your total length of eligibility, irrespective of the number of hours that you work.

You may engage in AT following one term of full time enrollment at Columbia University. Academic training is permissible from the first term only in the M.S. program of the School of Social Work. In all other cases, AT may not exceed the time earned as a full-time enrollee. For example, a student enrolling in the fall semester would have four months "credit" at its completion. Therefore, he or she could do four months of AT in the Spring term.

Time Limitations - For those studying at the undergraduate or pre-doctoral level, AT may be granted for a maximum of 18 months, inclusive of any prior academic training in the U.S. as an exchange visitor, or the period of the full course of study in the U.S., whichever is shorter. For example, if you have studied in the U.S. only in a nine-month program, such as the LL.M. or the M.S. in Journalism, your period of AT is limited to nine months. Post-completion AT authorization begins when you complete your studies, even if the employment does not begin until a later date. Speak with an adviser if you were in another program of study in the U.S. immediately preceding the current one.

Special (non-degree) students may not presume eligibility. Please consult an ISSO or IAO adviser to determine whether you will be eligible for AT if you register as a Special Student.

Post-doctoral AT can be granted in increments of 18 months with a maximum period of 36 months. A new form DS-2019 will be issued for each 18-month period. You must apply for and receive the second 18-month period before your work authorization letter and DS-2019 expire. Each period of post-doctoral AT requires payment online of the $180 Trainee Administration Fee.

Application Procedure

To obtain authorization to engage in AT during the academic year, you must submit the documentation listed below to the ISSO at least 10 business days before the anticipated start date. You must always apply for and receive AT authorization before the completion date noted on part 3 of your DS-2019 or before the completion of your program, whichever is earlier. Once this form expires, you are no longer considered to be in valid J-1 program status, and will have to apply for reinstatement to J-1 status from the United States Department of State (DOS) which administers the J-1 Exchange Visitor Program. Approval for reinstatement is highly uncertain.

To obtain authorization to engage in AT following completion of your program, you must submit the documentation listed below to the ISSO or the IAO up to 60 days before completing your program and before the extension of your DS-2019. Please note that you must have a firm offer of employment to apply for AT. The regulations state that employment for AT must begin not later than 30 days after completion of studies. However, guidance from the Exchange Visitor Program Services dated 5/6/93 indicates that with a firm offer of employment, one is eligible to apply for AT - the employment itself may actually begin a bit later. Completion of studies is defined as the date on which all requirements for the program have been met, not when the degree is actually conferred. For doctoral programs, the completion date may be

  • a) the date you defend your doctoral dissertation
  • b) the date you deposit your dissertation, if it is within three months of the defense date, or
  • c) the graduation date, if it is within three months of the defense date.
You must apply for AT before completion of your program and the expiration of your DS-2019. The Exchange Visitor Program will not allow application to be made during the 30-day grace period you are allowed to stay in the United States upon completion of your program of study. Please refer to the section above on Time Limitations to determine the total number of months of AT for which you may be eligible.

Submit the following documents to the ISSO or the IAO within the time periods described above:

  • A job/training offer letter on formal letterhead from the employer stating the specific terms of the offer
  • A letter of recommendation from your academic department head or academic adviser. The letter must state your degree candidacy and the date you will complete your studies and set forth:
    1. the goals and objectives of the specific training program
    2. a description of the training program, including its location, the name and address of the training supervisor, number of hours per week, and dates of the training
    3. how the training relates to your field of study
    4. why it is an integral or critical part of your academic program
  • Passport, I-94 card, and DS-2019
  • Funding documents: If you need a new DS-2019, you must provide documentation showing that you have sufficient funds for living expenses for the period covered by the new DS-2019. Your salary from your AT employment usually will be sufficient.
  • Trainee Administration Fee of $180 New regulations under SEVIS require the University to maintain the record of the student for the duration of the time that is authorized. You will be responsible for notifying the ISSO of any changes in name, address, or interruption, change, or termination in employment, and the ISSO must update your SEVIS record. The fee is for the first 18 months of authorized post-completion AT. The $180 fee is paid online at Trainee Administration Fee web page and must be paid before the updated DS-2019 and letter with ISSO's authorization is released to you. All credit card payments must be made online only. You are not required to pay the fee if you are applying for pre-completion AT (AT completed before the end date of your DS-2019).

Within five working days, the International Students and Scholars Office staff will review your application for eligibility, and, if eligible

  1. authorize AT by issuing a letter of permission for your employer
  2. issue a new DS-2019 covering the authorized period

You may begin AT employment as of the date it is authorized by the ISSO or the IAO staff, provided your permission to stay (I-94 card) and form DS-2019 continue to be valid. You will use the ISSO's or the IAO's letter, your passport, and forms I-94 and DS-2019 to show your employer that AT has been authorized.

You are considered to be maintaining your J-1 status for 30 days following the expiration date of your Academic Training, which is the time allowed you to either depart from the United States or change to another status, if eligible. Employment, however, is not permitted during this 30-day period. If you want to begin a new full- time program of study at any point during or following authorized academic training, you must follow the procedures for continuation from one educational level to another at Columbia, if applicable, or for transfer of schools.

If you leave the U.S. during your authorized period of academic training, you may return for the remainder of the authorized period provided you have:

  • a valid passport
  • a valid DS-2019 that has been recertified on the back page by the program sponsor
  • a letter from your J-1 sponsor authorizing Academic Training
  • a letter from your employer that you will continue working there following your trip abroad
  • a valid J-1 entry visa (except Canadians, who do not require entry visas)
    If you require a new entry visa while on AT, be aware that there is no guarantee that you are eligible for one. You are required to establish non-immigrant intent every time you apply for a non-immigrant visa. Speak with an ISSO adviser before planning a trip abroad.

The advisers of the ISSO encourage you to contact them if you have questions about the procedures for Academic Training. Students whose immigration documents were processed by the International Affairs Office at the Medical Center should contact the IAO for specific procedures.

Last Reviewed: 23 September 2015 Last modified: 23 September 2015
Columbia University International Students and Scholars Office