Employment is any type of work performed or services provided in exchange for money, tuition, fees, books, supplies, room, or for any other benefit. If you receive no pay or other compensation for work performed, the activity is not defined as employment but is considered to be volunteer work.
J-1 student employment is limited to 20 hours per week except during school breaks and your annual vacation. Your J-1 responsible officer can approve student employment for up to one year at a time.
This kind of work usually occurs on campus, with the school as the employer. In certain circumstances, however, the work can be done elsewhere for a different employer. You could work in a government or private research laboratory, for example, if your major professor has a joint appointment there and supervises you in work that counts toward your degree.
The regulations allow for jobs on campus that are unrelated to study, and they stipulate only that the work be done "on the premises" of the school. This means the school does not have to be the employer and you can work for a commercial company, such as a food service, that operates on your campus. To request on-campus employment authorization see the On-Campus Employment Request Form.
These are jobs that are "necessary because of serious, urgent, and unforeseen economic circumstances" that have arisen since your arrival in the United States as an exchange visitor, or since your change, inside the country, to J-1 status. Please be sure to see your responsible officer if you want to begin employment in any of these categories. You must get authorization from your responsible officer before you begin any type of employment.
Academic training refers to certain types of study-related employment. This section covers the conditions that you must meet in order to qualify for academic training, and how to apply.
Academic training is flexible in its format and offers a variety of employment situations to supplement your academic program in the United States. It is available before completion of your program of study as well as afterwards. As long as you stay within the stipulated time limits, it lets you work part time while classes are in session and full time during vacation periods. And, under certain circumstances, you may interrupt study to work full time, for example while you are writing a thesis. J-1 students in nondegree programs are eligible for academic training.
For advice and for further information, review our Academic Training handout and see an ISSS advisor.
As a J-1 student you are eligible for a variety of work opportunities in the United States, but employment without proper authorization is a serious violation of your status. Remember that before you start any kind of employment, you must first consult your J-1 responsible officer, whose written approval is necessary in advance.