How to Work in the U.S. on a J-1 Student Visa

October 22, 2015

ISEP students in the United States on J-1 visas are allowed to work either on-campus or off-campus through the Academic Training program. We wanted to talk a bit about the steps that you’ll need to take if you want to take advantage of this great opportunity.

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Step 1: Learn more about Academic Training and working on-campus

Start by doing some research to see what the best option is for your situation. Academic Training can be during or after the semester, paid or unpaid, but must be related to your field of study. Working on-campus can only be done during the semester but doesn’t need to be related to your major. Check out the resources in ISEP’s United States Country Handbook’s Visa and Residency Section. Read our Working in the U.S. FAQs blog post, watch our webinar on Working in the USA, and don’t forget to reach out to or your ISEP Coordinator if you have any questions!

Bill Clinton in the U.S. with ISEP Exchange Student
You never know, your academic training could connect you to former U.S. presidents!

Step 2: Start networking on campus 

If you’re looking for work on-campus, check with your host ISEP Coordinator to see if it’s possible for you to get on-campus jobs at your institution. For academic training, start talking to professors, your ISEP coordinator, and your university’s career services center to jump start your job search. Many past academic training students say that networking was a big help in finding the right job!


Step 3. Fill out the ISEP permission form before starting work

Whether you’re working on campus or on academic training, you still need to get permission from ISEP before you start work. You can get the ISEP application forms from your ISEP Coordinator on campus, who will also need to sign off on your application. Once you’ve completed the application, send in all the paperwork over email to ISEP Global using the email address. Additionally you should check with your ISEP Coordinator to make sure there isn’t any other paperwork to do for your host institution.

Everyone likes getting paid…so make sure you register!

4. Register for a social security number and get paid

Once we approve your work authorization, you will be sent an authorization letter in the mail allowing you to begin work. Most employers will require you to register for a social security number with the U.S. government before you can be paid, and you can use this letter to apply. For more information on this, please see the Social Security Administration’s guidance on social security numbers for international students.

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Step 5. Start your dream job

We hope that you will learn a lot and gain some valuable experience. Remember you will need to update ISEP if your home address or phone number changes when you start work within ten days of the change. You will also need to submit an evaluation at the end of any academic training you pursue.

For more information about Academic Training or working in the U.S. on a student visa, feel free to contact our Sevis Program Officer at

Interested in studying abroad with ISEP? Let us know what you’re looking for.

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