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Academic Training

Academic Training is used for practical experience or training-based-employment for J-1 exchange students. An Academic Training (AT) experience must be related to your major field of study and can be paid or unpaid. AT can be used during any portion of your academic program, including while enrolled in classes or after completing your program, as long as you are maintaining your J-1 status and are approved for the AT by your sponsor.

To be granted AT, your authorization must be completed and processed by ISSS before the program end date listed on your DS-2019. Also, the AT must begin within 30 days after the program end date.

See below for the official language within the regulation:

  • “A student may participate in academic training programs during his or her studies, without wages or other remuneration, with the approval of the academic dean or advisor and the Exchange Visitor Program Responsible Officer (RO or ARO). A student may be authorized to participate in academic training for wages or other remuneration during his or her studies or commencing not later than thirty (30) days after completion of his or her studies.” (Source: 22CFR. § 62.23(f)(2)).

Note: All J-1 students, including students on Academic Training, are required to purchase and be enrolled in Drake’s International Student Health Insurance Plan.


Eligibility Criteria

Eligibility for Academic Training is based on the following criteria:

  • You are in the U.S. primarily for study in a full-time academic program.
  • You are in good academic standing at your educational institution.
  • You must apply before the completion of your academic program.
  • You are participating in academic training that is directly related to your major field of study.
  • Your employment/training must take place with the specific employer or employers who are noted on the academic training authorization letter.
  • You must receive an authorization letter, in advance, for the duration and type of academic training, from ISSS. This authorization must be processed before the end date on the Form DS-2019 or before the official date of the degree program completion, whichever comes first.
  • You have a valid Form DS-2019 that enables you to remain in the U.S. in J-1 student status. You must apply for extensions as needed and in a timely manner.

Length of Academic Training

The total employment/training period may not exceed the amount of time spent in full course of study. For example, if you are non-degree student who completed a program in 12 months, you are only eligible for 12 months of academic training.

Any pre-completion academic training period is deducted from your total allowable academic training period when calculating post-completion academic training. Additionally, all AT is considered at a full-time rate. This means that even if your AT placement is part-time work, it will still be considered full-time work in terms of your AT program.

How to Apply for Academic Training

To apply for academic training with ISSS,  you must be sponsored by Drake University. If your sponsor is the Institute for International Education (IIE) or another agency, you must contact your sponsor to process your academic training. To determine your sponsorship, please check section #2 of your Form DS-2019.

Below are the steps for Applying for AT at Drake

  1. Have a formal employment offer, written on letterhead from your potential academic training employer. The job offer letter from your employer must include:
    • Your job title
    • A brief description of the goals and objectives of your training or employment
    • Dates and location of training or employment
    • Number of hours per week, salary and benefits (if receiving payment)
    • Name and title of your training supervisor
  2. Obtain a letter of recommendationfrom your academic advisor or dean recommending this academic training. You will need to provide him/her with a copy of your employment offer letter. The recommendation letter from your academic advisor or dean must include:
    • The goals and objectives of the specific training program
    • A description of the training program, including all the information listed above
    • How the training relates to your major field of study
    • Why this employment is an integral or critical part of your academic program
    • The length of time necessary to complete the goals and objectives of the academic training
  3. Complete an Academic Training Request Form for J-1 Students.
  4. Schedule an appointment with the International Student Advisor
    • Your appointment with the International Student Advisor must occur at least 30 working days before the end date on your Form DS-2019. If you fail to submit your application before the end date on your Form DS-2019, whichever is earlier, you will not be eligible for academic training.
    • Bring the following documents with you to your appointment:
      • Employment offer letter
      • Letter of recommendation from your academic advisor or dean
      • Copies of your current and all previous Forms DS-2019
      • A copy of the bio page of your passport and visa page
      • A copy of paper or print-out of electronic Form I-94 (please click on the link for instructions)
      • Proof of funding to show how you will support yourself during your academic training (if your academic training is unpaid)
      • Be sure the Academic Training Request Form is completed prior to the appointment. ISSS will pull up the completed form electronically during the appointment.
  5. If ISSS approves your application, we will issue a new Form DS-2019 authorizing the AT. We will also issue you an AT Authorization Letter, which will list your employer, beginning and end dates, and the number of hours a week you will be working. The end date on this form is now the end date of your J-1 program.

Changes to Your Academic Training

You will be required to complete and submit (with the help of your AT site) an evaluation form when any of the following program changes occurs:

  1. Your AT employment ends
  2. There is a change to your AT employer (must notify ISSS PRIOR TO this change and get new authorization)
  3. The goals and/or objectives of the AT change

    You can find a copy of this evaluation in the Blackboard ISSS Resource Hub.

    Travel Outside the U.S.

    If you plan to leave the U.S. after you complete your program of study, you must obtain AT authorization from ISSS (new DS-2019 and AT Authorization Letter) before you leave. If you do not receive this authorization, you may lose your eligibility for academic training. You will also need to take into consideration your J-1 visa and whether or not it is still valid. If it is not valid, you will need to renew the visa before returning to the U.S.

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