J-1 students in good academic standing may be allowed to work under some circumstances during their J-1 program. They must obtain proper authorization from EVS and/or the U.S. government before any work begins, even if the work is required by their academic program.

Per U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and Department of State (DOS) regulations, “work” includes any work-like activities: paid or unpaid, full-time or part-time, on-campus or off-campus, etc. It includes co-ops, externships, internships, shadowing, and most forms of volunteering.

This page details J-1 student employment. Click here to learn about J-2 dependent employment.

To request employment authorization, students must contact their EVS advisor.

On-Campus Employment

Students may work on campus if they obtain proper authorization from EVS. The authorization must be obtained before any work begins, even if the work is required by their academic program.

On-campus employment must:

  • Be authorized in writing by EVS.
  • Be part-time (<20 hours per pay week) whenever classes are in session.
    • Students may work additional hours during official academic breaks during the semester (i.e. Spring Break).
    • Students may work additional hours between semesters if they will return to classes the following semester.
    • Click here for a breakdown of allowed work hours.
  • Cease once the student completes their academic program.

On-campus employment typically falls into one of three categories:

  • Work on school premises, employed by the University of Florida (e.g., assistantships)
  • Work on school premises, employed by on-campus commercial firms (e.g., eFollet/UF Bookstore and Aramark/Gator Dining; not W. W. Gay Construction, etc.)
  • Work on off-campus located that is treated as on-campus employment
    • This is typically limited to graduate student research.
    • Activity must be an integral part of the student’s academic program, and either part of an established curriculum or contractually funded post-graduate research project.

To request employment authorization, students must contact their EVS advisor.

Assistantships

Assistantships are paid positions where a student assists faculty in a teaching or research capacity.

There are four primary types of assistantships at UF:

  • Fellowship: Fellowships typically do not have a work component, but there are occasional exceptions.
  • Graduate Assistantship: Graduate assistants are employed through an individual academic department, which determines the student’s responsibilities and stipend.
    • Interested students must contact the academic department directly to discuss available graduate assistantships.
  • Research Assistantship: Research assistants conduct part-time research as part of their training under the direct supervision of faculty members.
  • Teaching Assistantship: Teaching assistants perform instructional work for one or more classes.
    • Specific duties may include lecturing, leading discussion groups, serving as assistants in lab classes, grading coursework, etc.

For more information, see the UF Graduate School site.

Off-Campus Employment

Students may be permitted to work off campus as part of academic training, or in the case of substantial and unexpected financial hardships. They must obtain proper authorization from EVS before any work begins, even if the work is a requirement of their academic program.

To request employment authorization, students must contact their EVS advisor.

Academic Training

Academic training is a type of employment directly related to a J-1 student’s major area of study. It may be pursued during or after the academic program.

An academic training program must be:

  • Authorized in writing by EVS advisor before any activity begins.
  • Recommended by the student’s  major advisor.
  • Designed to apply the knowledge and skills learned during the academic program.
  • Limited to period of 18 months, unless:
    • If academic program is <18 months, the academic training period cannot be longer than the programit.
    • If the student is pursuing postdoctoral doctoral training, they may be eligible for up to 36 months of academic training.
    • If the student has already used periods of academic training earlier in their program.

Important Considerations

  • Academic training is considered full-time employment, even if the student is working part time.
  • Academic training may involve multiple sequential and/or simultaneous activities.
    • These activities may be paid or unpaid, with multiple U.S. or foreign employers, as long as students receive proper authorization and follow all regulations.
  • Students may receive authorization for academic training that will begin no later than 30 days after the end date of their academic program as listed on their Form DS-2019 form.

Academic Training Application

To apply, students must schedule an appointment with their EVS advisor.

Students must bring the following documents to their appointment:

First Academic Training Period (18 months)

Second Academic Training Period (18 months)*

  • Academic Training Acknowledgement and Responsibilities Form
  • Current Form DS-2019
  • Proof of sufficient health insurance
    • If the employer does not provide sufficient health insurance, the student must purchase their own coverage.
  • Recommendation letter from student’s PhD faculty advisor stating:
    • The goals and objectives of the training program.
    • How the training relates to the student’s field of study.
    • Why it is an integral part of the student’s academic program.
  • Offer letter from potential employer, on letterhead, stating:
    • A description of the training program, including the start and end dates of the program; name and physical address of the student’s primary site of activity; number of work hours per week; and the supervisor’s name, phone number, and email address.
    • If the student will receive health insurance through the employer.
  • Academic Training Acknowledgement and Responsibilities Form
  • Current Form DS-2019
  • Proof of sufficient health insurance
    • If the employer does not provide sufficient health insurance, the student must purchase their own coverage.
  • Offer letter from potential/current employer, on letterhead, stating:
    • A description of the training program, including the start and end dates of the program; name and physical address of the student’s primary site of activity; number of work hours per week; and the supervisor’s name, phone number, and email address.
    • If the student will receive health insurance through the employer.
    • If the student is a current employee, the letter must also confirm their work performance has been satisfactory.

*Students must have a doctorate and be employed in their related field of study to qualify for a second academic training period.

NOTE:  Students who continue to work with the same employer between academic training authorizations do not need a new recommendation letter from their academic advisor.  However, they do need a new letter from their employer evaluating their work performance.

Unforeseen Economic Circumstances

Students may be permitted to work off-campus if they face serious, urgent, and unforeseen economic circumstances. This option is considered strictly and requires extensive proof of economic hardship.

Off-campus employment of this kind must:

  • Be authorized in writing by EVS.
  • Be part-time (<20 hours per pay week) and for a limited period.
  • Be a result of new circumstances that arose after the student’s program began.
    • Qualifying circumstances may include health issues, global events that affect a student’s home country, significant currency devaluation, etc.

Students must email their EVS advisor a statement describing their situation, along with any supporting documentation. It must provide a detailed explanation why off-campus employment is necessary.

Special Student Relief

Students may be permitted to work if their financial support comes from Indonesia, South Korea, Malaysia, Thailand, or the Philippines, and that support is disrupted, reduced, or eliminated due to economic crisis.

For more information, please contact EVS.

Volunteering

Volunteering is often considered employment for immigration purposes. Students may volunteer while in the U.S., but must comply with all visa regulations.

  • They can freely volunteer for charitable or philanthropic purposes, with some restrictions:
    • They cannot participate in any fundraising activities, such as selling art or food.
    • They cannot volunteer within their professional expertise under almost any circumstance (e.g., veterinarians cannot volunteer to care for animals).
  • They cannot volunteer in any other ways unless they have valid work authorization from the UF International Center and/or U.S. government.
    • The work authorization is not verbal.  They must obtain and physically possess the authorization documents before they start any activity:
      • An updated Form DS-2019 from UF EVS with authorization printed in Section 5; and and/or
      • An authorization letter oin UFIC’s letterhead, signed and with a signature from  by the Responsible Officer.
      • An approved Employment Authorization Document (EAD) from USCIS.
    • They must obtain authorization even if the volunteer activity is required by their degree or their program.
  • They must consult their EVS advisor before they begin any volunteer that may fall within their professional expertise, even for charitable purposes.
    • If they might list an activity on their resume, consult EVS.
    • If they are unsure if something qualifies, consult EVS.

If an exchange visitor violates these regulations, even accidentally, they may lose J-1 visa status or face other serious immigration penalties.

For more information, please contact EVS.