The US Department of State Exchange Visitor Program regulations allow J-1 student visa holders to apply for Academic Training (AT) before and/or after completion of their program of studies.
Only students pursuing a degree are allowed to apply for Academic Training. Students become eligible for AT after they have been in lawful, full-time student status for one full academic year.
The cumulative period of Academic Training is 18 months, unless the student is pursuing a program that requires fewer than 18 months, in which case the period of Academic Training is shortened accordingly. The period of Academic Training cannot be longer than the period of time the student takes to complete his/her program of studies. For example, a student who completes a Master’s degree in one year is allowed only one year of Academic Training.
Student on academic training are allowed to work full-time during vacations, and up to 20 hours per week when school is in session. Remember that no student is allowed to work for more than 20 hours per week when school is in session. Therefore, if a student has an assistantship, she/he cannot be employed for Academic Training.