J-1 Academic Training (AT)

Academic Training is a benefit of J-1 student status that allows you to work —either paid or unpaid — for the purpose of applying knowledge and skills learned during your program of study.

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You may use Academic Training during your program of study (Pre-Completion AT) or immediately following the completion of your degree program (Post-Completion AT). To be eligible, you must:

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Before You Apply


Academic Training cannot exceed the period of time you spend in your academic program in J-1 student status. Your J-1 status begins on your arrival date or program start date, whichever is later.

*STEM AT Extension: Bachelors and Masters students in STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) may be eligible to extend for more than 18 months of Academic Training provided you meet the criteria below:

  • You are enrolled in a degree program. Non-degree students are not eligible for this extension.
  • Your academic program must be included in this government list of STEM extension eligible programs. Your "CIP" code is on your DS-2019 in section 4 under "Subject/Field Code".

Students who meet the above criteria can request up to 36 months of AT or the length of their J-1 status, whichever is shorter. Learn more about this initiative here

If you believe you may be eligible for an Academic Training STEM extension, send an email to the ISSO that serves your campus with the subject line "AT STEM Extension".

You may apply for AT during and/or after the completion of your degree program. 

You may work for only a certain number of hours (as shown below). Any time that is authorized during your program will be deducted at a full-time rate, regardless of the number of hours, from the total amount of time allowed after you complete your program..

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How to Apply

Are you applying for Pre-Completion AT? Skip Step #1--there is no Administrative Fee.

Steps to apply for J-1 Academic Training
Step 1.

Pay the $450 AT Administration Fee (for Post-Completion AT only)

You remain in J-1 status under Columbia’s sponsorship with an active SEVIS record during post-completion AT. Doctoral students, and Bachelors or Masters students in STEM programs, will pay a second fee if eligible to apply for more than 18 months.

Step 2.

Gather your documents


Log in to Compass to submit your application

Please click the appropriate link below:

Not sure of your campus? Check our campus school list.
Need help using Compass? Learn more on our Compass User Guide.

Step 4.

We will contact you

Allow up to 10 business days for us to review and process your application. We will email your AT authorization letter and new DS-2019 for you to print and sign.

Step 5.

Review, sign and date your new DS-2019

Use it when you travel. The travel signature (endorsement) is valid for 12 months or until your program end date, whichever is earlier. Keep all previously issued I-20s and DS-2019s. You may need them in the future.

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What to Do After AT Has Been Approved

Apply for a Social Security Number (if you don’t have one)

Be prepared to show your employer:

You must:

You continue to be in J-1 status, and therefore must:

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Complete an Academic Training Evaluation Form

Complete an Academic Training Evaluation Form (for both pre-completion and post-completion AT) when you:

  • Change employers
  • End your employment on Academic Training

Please click the appropriate link below to log in to Compass to complete and submit an evaluation form:


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Traveling During Authorized AT

When you have Academic Training authorized during your academic program, it does not affect the documents you need to return to the United States. See our Documents Needed to Travel page for information on what you need as a student in J-1 status.

While you are on Post-Completion AT, you remain in J-1 status even though you are no longer an enrolled student. If you have plans to travel abroad during this period, you need to know in advance what to have with you to return to the U.S. in J-1 status, so you don't jeopardize your AT authorization.

Do not come back to the U.S. in any status other than J-1!  Visit our Documents Needed to Travel page for information on returning to the U.S. with J-1 Post-Completion Academic Training.

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