J-1 Employment

J-1 Employment

Many J-1 international students wish to find employment on-campus or employment/internships off-campus. Before beginning any opportunity, you must receive authorization from the SDSU International Student Center (ISC).

Working or doing an internship on-campus or off-campus without authorization from the ISC is illegal and has serious consequences that could result in the loss of your student visa. Working in or running your own business is not allowed under any circumstance for J-1 students. Illegal work may subject you to deportation from the U.S. Discuss your employment options with an ISC advisor before you begin any work or internship during your time in the U.S.

Students who are legally allowed to work in the U.S. must apply for a Social Security Number in order to be paid.

Read the sections below for information and steps to obtain work authorization. In addition, the ISC offers several information sessions on J-1 Employment Authorization and Academic Training each semester. Check the ISC Calendar for more information.

J-1 On-Campus Employment

This section contains information about working on-campus for international J-1 students. The ISC encourages you to wait to seek on-campus employment until after you have adjusted to life at SDSU.
  • Authorization must be received from the ISC in the form of an updated DS-2019 before you can begin a campus job
  • Up to 20 hours per week (part-time) when class is in session
  • Up to 40 hours per week (full-time) during SDSU vacation periods (if vacation period falls within your DS-2019 Program Dates)
  • View the SDSU Academic Calendar for important dates
Visit Finding a Job for information on where to look for a job and for information on SDSU Career Services.

Working on campus may affect your eligibility to work off campus at the same time.

  • Undergraduate students: When class is in session, a maximum of 20 hours total is allowed between on-campus and off-campus employment (Academic Training). During the summer and official school breaks the maximum does not apply if those dates fall within your DS-2019 Program Dates.
  • Graduate students: When class is in session, you may work a maximum of 20 hours per week on-campus and also work part-time or full-time off-campus (Academic Training) as authorized by your academic department and the ISC. During the summer and official school breaks the maximum does not apply if those dates fall within your DS-2019 Program Dates.
  • J-1 On-Campus Employment Authorization Request: 
    • Ask the Human Resources (HR) department for the Evidence of On-Campus Employment Letter, which must include the Employer Identification Number.
    • Upload the letter to the J-1 On-Campus Employment Authorization Request Form, found on the Forms webpage.
    • If approved by the ISC, you will receive an updated DS-2019 with authorization to work for that specific campus employer.
    • After receiving the DS-2019 with authorization for the specific campus employer, you may begin working.
    • Submit a new request when changing jobs or if adding another job.
  • Campus Work Verification Form: Some on-campus departments will require proof from the ISC that you are eligible to work on campus before they will offer you a job.
    • If a campus employer requires verification of on-campus employment, contact ISC Reception at [email protected]
  • Social Security Number: Most campus employers will allow you to apply for a job and be hired before you have a Social Security Number (SSN), but you must have a Social Security Card with your SSN to show your employer in order to be paid. If you do not have an SSN, you will need to apply for one after the campus employer hires you by following our SSN process.

J-1 Off-Campus Employment: Academic Training

As a J-1 international student, you have the opportunity to obtain work, internship, or practicum experience in your field of study through an option called Academic Training.


  • This information applies only to J-1 students who have been issued a DS-2019 form by San Diego State University. Students who have a DS-2019 from ISEP, Fulbright, or any other sponsoring agency must contact their sponsor directly for information on academic training.
  • It is illegal to begin employment before your academic training is authorized.

What is academic training?

Academic training is a type of off-campus work authorization that allows J-1 students to participate in employment, internships, or practicum in the student’s major field of study that will enhance or enrich the academic knowledge with practical experience. It is considered to be an integral and important part of the overall experience for international students, and you are encouraged to engage in some type of academic training.

When can I participate in academic training?

The training may be taken during the course of study, after completion of your course of study, or a combination of these. If participating after your course of study please keep the following in mind:

  • Academic Training authorization must be processed before your official academic program completion date. Review application period section below.
  • Employment/internship must begin within the first 30 days after the official academic program completion date found in Section #3 of your DS-2019.

Will I be paid?

Academic training may be paid or unpaid. If you are interested, make an appointment to talk with your International Student Advisor to explore prospective training opportunities and whether they may meet the requirements of the J regulations.

To be considered for academic training, you must meet the following requirements:

  • You must be in good academic standing with a minimum GPA of 2.0. (Students on probation are not eligible for academic training.)
  • You must have a guaranteed job offer before academic training can be approved.
  • All training must be directly related to your major field of study.
  • Your academic department at SDSU or major advisor must approve your Academic Training and fill out the "Academic Department Recommendation" on the Academic Training Form.
  • You must apply before the completion of your academic program.
  • Your International Student Advisor will give final approval.

Sponsored by an agency other than SDSU?

J-1 students who are issued a DS-2019 by another agency (Fulbright or ISEP, for instance), must check with their sponsor for employment eligibility.

During your program of study

There is no set application deadline to apply for academic training during the semester. However, before you begin your internship training, you must allow enough time to receive approval from both your Academic Advisor and the International Student Advisor.

After your program of study

The priority application deadline for fall semester is December 1 and for spring semester is May 1. If the deadline is near, and you are waiting for a job offer, tell the International Student Advisor. You may still be able to apply.

Important: It is illegal to begin employment before your academic training is authorized. Follow these steps to receive authorization to begin your academic training: 

  • Employer Job/Internship Offer Letter: Obtain an internship/employment offer letter from an employer. The offer must be written on official company letterhead and include the following:
    - Your name and job title
    - Start & end date of training/employment
    - Location of training/employment
    - Brief description of the duties
    - Number of hours per week
    - If the position is paid or unpaid
    - Name, title, and signature of your supervisor or HR representative
  • Academic Training Form with approval from Academic Department or Major Advisor: Show your job offer letter to your Academic/Major Advisor and request that they fill out the "Academic Department Recommendation" section on the Academic Training Record Form
    • If the Academic or Major Advisor says they cannot locate your major, please inform them it is listed in SDSU Navigate as a Note. If you still have problems with getting the Academic or Major Advisor signature, please meet with an ISC Advisor.
  • Submit Academic Training Application: Submit the completed Academic Training Record Form, job/internship offer letter, and other required documents if applicable (read extension steps below) to our online Academic Training Application Submission Form.
    An International Student Advisor will review the following:
    • Check your academic eligibility
    • Verify that the Academic Record Form form contains the required information
    • Request to meet with you to discuss the extension of the DS-2019 form if needed.
  • Social Security Number (only applicable if internship/employment is paid): If your internship/employment is paid, you must have a Social Security number to work in the U.S. After you have been authorized for academic training, follow these instructions to apply for a Social Security Number.


  • Schedule an appointment with an ISC Advisor to discuss extension of your stay.
  • If the internship is unpaid, upload a completed Financial Statement Form and proof of funds to the Academic Training Application Submission Form showing that you have enough money to live on while you are doing the internship. Please discuss the amount with during your appointment with an ISC advisor. If the internship/employment is paid, as long as the amount discussed with the ISC advisor is listed on your offer letter there is no need to submit additional proof of funding.
  • Proof of health insurance: Once the processing advisor reviews your application, if everything is correct, you will receive an email from them that you have been tentatively approved with instructions on how to pay for health insurance for the additional months of your Academic Training period. 

IF YOUR ACADEMIC TRAINING IS APPROVED you will receive a new DS-2019  with extended dates to cover the academic training period. While this means that your J-1 status will be extended, and that you will be legal to remain in the U.S. for the approved dates, if you leave the U.S. during your AT period, the J-1 visa in your passport may have expired. If you leave the country after your visa has expired, you will need to apply for a new J-1 visa while you are abroad to be allowed to re-enter the U.S. and continue the AT. You should not use another visa or ESTA to re-enter the U.S. If you wish to travel internationally during this period and your visa has expired, please consult with an ISC Advisor to evaluate risks prior to planning a trip.

The amount of time a student may spend in academic training varies, depending on the student.

The training period is generally limited to the time spent in your course of study, unless the training is mandatory to complete your course of study.

The following time limitations also apply:

  • Exchange students enrolled in 1 semester at SDSU are eligible for 4 months of academic training.
  • Exchange students enrolled in 2 semesters at SDSU are eligible for 9 months of academic training.
  • Students in degree programs are permitted to engage in academic training for up to 18 months.
  • Doctoral students doing postdoctoral training under the supervision of an academic or research institute may do a maximum of 36 months of training.

When can I start employment?

You can only begin the training opportunity on the AT start date shown on your new DS-2019 after receiving it from the ISC. If you work before receiving AT authorization, you are in violation of your J-1 visa which is grounds for termination of your SEVIS immigration record. This could result in your immediate return to your home country, an inability to finish your program at SDSU, and/or problems when applying for a new U.S. visa or trying to re-enter the U.S. in the future. AT cannot be backdated to include illegal work that was performed before it was authorized by the ISC.

Processing time

After uploading the required completed AT documents to our Academic Training Application Submission Form, AT processing is 7 business days, provided all documents are completed and correct.
For students who do not have a Social Security Number (SSN) and are outside San Diego, allow additional time to receive your AT DS-2019 in the mail after it is processed. 

Hours allowed 

Academic Training DURING SDSU Exchange Program
During your SDSU exchange and when class is in session, you may work part-time (up to 20 hours per week) on Academic Training. There is no minimum hour requirement. If working a campus job, a maximum of 20 hours per week is allowed between on-campus and off-campus employment.

During the summer and official school breaks, full-time Academic Training is allowed with authorization, and on-campus employment does not impact this.

Academic Training AFTER SDSU Exchange Program
Full-time Academic Training is allowed with authorization after your SDSU Exchange program. A minimum of 20 hours per week is required to be eligible for Academic Training.

Before you depart the U.S., you should confirm that you have the required documentation to travel to other countries and re-enter the U.S. If you depart the U.S. without a required document or travel signature, you could find that you are unable to re-enter the U.S. Please make sure you have the following documents available for travel: 

  • Valid Passport
  • Valid J-1 Visa on your passport (except Canadian citizens). If your J-1 Visa stamp has expired you must obtain a new one before re-entering the U.S. Students who need to apply for a new visa should consult with an ISC advisor prior to travel to discuss the visa application process and possible risks.
  • Valid DS-2019 with Academic Training Approval on it, and a signature in the "travel validation" section. Travel Validations are valid for 12 months.
  • A letter from your employer as evidence of employment/internship.

Students are required to report all changes in employment and personal information in order to maintain their J1 immigration record in SEVIS. Please report the below items to the ISC through the J-1 Academic Training Reporting Form:

  • Within 30 days of your academic training ending, you’ll need to submit a program evaluation.
  • If you move, your new physical address is due within TEN days of when you move.
  • If you end your academic training early, you need to inform us right away.

Program Evaluation
Within 30 days of your academic training ending, you’ll need to submit a program evaluation through the J-1 Academic Training Reporting Form
Grace Period 
Only applicable to students participating in post Academic Training:

After completion of your Academic Training, you will have a 30 day grace period to depart the country. Please note you are not legal to continue working during your grace period. You must stop working on the exact end date indicated on your DS-2019, from the end date you will have 30 additional days to prepare your things and depart the country.

International students on the J-1 Exchange Visitor status who wish to pursue an internship in their major are required to obtain approval from their Academic Deparment or Major Advisor recommending the training.

In order to meet the requirements of the J-1 federal regulations, the training must be:

  • Directly related to the student’s field of study, and
  • Considered an integral or critical part of the student’s academic program

Both the student’s Academic/Major Advisor and the International Student Advisor must approve the proposed training program. The student must have a guaranteed training offer before they can be authorized for the academic training.

Important: If you believe the student’s request does not meet the above criteria, the student is not eligible for the proposed training at this time, and no letter is required.

Thank you very much for your consideration of this request. If you have questions, please contact the International Student Center (ISC).

J-1 Economic Hardship

J-1 students sponsored by San Diego State University may be eligible to engage in off-campus employment unrelated to their field of study due to unforeseen severe  economic hardship. The financial need must have occurred after your program began and must be thoroughly documented.

J-1 students sponsored by San Diego State University may be eligible to engage in off-campus employment unrelated to their field of study due to unforeseen severe economic hardship.

The financial need must have occurred after your program began and must be thoroughly documented.

Note: You must try to find employment on campus before you are eligible to apply for this type of employment. Work through this program is limited to 20 hours per week during school session, but may be full time when school is not in session. 

Are you sponsored by an agency other than SDSU?

If you are a J-1 student who was issued a DS-2019 by another agency (Fulbright or ISEP, for instance), you must check with your sponsor for employment eligibility.

This page explains the situations under which you might be eligible for this type of employment.

  • Students must be currently enrolled full time and in good academic standing. 
  • Students on a 1- or 2-semester exchange program will seldom be granted this type of employment since their funds for the program have just been guaranteed. 
  • Students will be considered eligible for this type of employment only in the case of an extremely drastic change in their financial situation (such as the death of a sponsor or a sudden political or economic upheaval in the student’s home country). 
  • J-1 students studying in a long-term program at SDSU may be eligible depending on their source of funding: 
    • Students who are fully funded by SDSU who lose their entire sponsorship may not be eligible for this type of employment because a part-time job would not be sufficient to fund these students on a full-time basis. 
    • Students who are partially funded by SDSU may be eligible for this type of employment if they lose their other source of funding due to circumstances such as: 
    • Loss of a scholarship 
    • Death or severe illness of the sponsor 
    • Bankruptcy or other financial disaster of the sponsor 
    • Retirement or illness of the sponsor 
    • Student’s excessive medical bills 
    • Substantial devaluation of the currency of the student’s home country 
    • Political or economic upheaval in the student’s home country

 It is important to provide substantial documentation as written proof of the change in your economic circumstances. 

Translation of documents

You may provide documentation in your home language, but you must include an attached translation. You may translate documents yourself, and you must write on the translation that you are fluent in both languages, and that this is a true and accurate translation.

Types of documents

Types of documents may vary. Here are some possible examples (you may have others):

  • A letter documenting the loss of a scholarship
  • Personal letters from your sponsor describing the situation
  • A legal document from your sponsor’s attorney or company
  • A death certificate
  • A document from your medical doctor / copies of your excessive medical bills
  • Copies of magazine or newspaper articles which show changing circumstances in your home country, including currency fluctuations

Bring these documents to your application appointment (see "How to Apply" below)  with an International Student Advisor.

Application procedure

To apply, make an appointment with the International Student Advisor who handles J-1 advising and take the following documents with you to your appointment:

  • Your valid passport
  • DS-2019 form
  • Written proof of the reasons for your financial difficulties


If the advisor determines that you are eligible, you will receive a letter of employment authorization. This letter is the required written documentation that you are legally authorized to accept employment.

Expiration and renewal of authorization

The authorization will terminate on the ending date of the DS-2019 form, or at the end of the year, whichever is sooner. It may be renewed if the documentation shows that the need still exists, but it is automatically terminated if you fail to maintain your J-1 status or complete your J-1 program.

J-2 Dependents Employment

In most cases a J-2 visa holder may seek employment in the U.S.

To work, a J-2 visa holder must file an I-765 form to obtain an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) from the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Learn more.

Money earned by a J-2 cannot be used to support the principal J-1 visa holder. Employed J-2 visa holders must verify that the employment earnings will only pay for the their personal expenses or the expenses of their children.