When You can Work Without Special Permission

Exchange visitors are permitted to work in the u. s. if the job is part of the par­ticular exchange program in which they are participating. Many J-1 programs, such as those for college and university professors or graduate medical students, are specifically created to engage the exchange visitor in employment. Others, like those for graduate students, often involve part-time employment in the form of teaching or research assistantships. The job may be located on or off the school premises. As long as the employ­ment is part of the program, no special work permission is required.

1. When You need Special Permission to Work

Working outside the bounds of your pro­gram often requires special permission, as described in the following subsections.

a. Practical Training

If your J-1 visa was issued for a study program, you may accept work that is not specifically part of the program but is related to the subject matter of your studies. This can include work that begins after your program is com­pleted (but no more than 30 days after) with an 18-month aggregate limit. Such employment is called practical training. You must have written permission from the responsible officer of your exchange visitor program to accept a practical training position. USCIS plays no role in granting permission for practical training.

b. Economic necessity

Remember that in order to get a J-1 visa, you must show that you have sufficient financial resources to support yourself while participating in an exchange visitor program. As we discussed earlier, such resources may be in the form of scholar­ships or salary earned for work that is part of or related to the program. However, if unforeseen financial problems arise after you arrive in the U. S., you may get work permission for employment that is unre­lated to your exchange visitor program if the employment will not adversely affect your ability to be a full-time participant in the program. There is no special applica­tion, but you must have written approval from the responsible officer of your ex­change visitor program.