Working (J-1 Students)

On-Campus Employment

International students who are in valid J-1 student status sponsored by UCSB and pursuing a full course of study can work on campus up to 50% time (20 hours/week or less) during the academic terms and full-time during the academic break periods (including summer break). On-campus employment at UCSB includes teaching or research assistantship, working at the UCen or Library aide, etc. Generally speaking, on-campus employment means that you will be receiving a paycheck from UCSB.

Before you begin any on-campus employment, you must complete Request for J-1 On-Campus Work Authorization (with signatures from your employer and graduate student advisor) and submit the completed form to OISS.

SEVIS regulations regarding on-campus employment for J-1 students require your J-1 sponsor (UCSB) to authorize all on-campus employment in writing before your employment start date. You must have written authorization from OISS to work on campus.


  • The written authorization is only valid for a maximum of twelve months, or until the expiration date of your DS-2019 form, or the ending date of your employment, whichever is sooner. Therefore you will need to obtain a new authorization for each year of on campus employment, or if you change jobs.Special authorization is not required to work on-campus as long as you
  • When you complete your study program you are no longer eligible to be employed on-campus without special authorization (for example, academic training).
  • If your DS-2019 was issued by a program other than UCSB (such as Fulbright or IIE, Agency for International Development), you must contact your program sponsor for on-campus employment authorization.

Academic Training

Academic training is employment or training directly related to the educational program on the DS-2019 form. The student must be in good standing with the university and in valid J-1 status. Academic training can be taken prior to completion of the study program (part-time), during the break periods or after the completion of the study program (full-time). Individuals who have completed an undergraduate or pre-doctoral graduate degree are eligible for 18 months of academic training or the period of their full course of study in J-1 status, whichever is less. Individuals who are at the post-doctoral level are eligible for 36 months of academic training, inclusive of any prior academic training as an exchange visitor, or the period of the full course of study, whichever is less.

Academic Training Application Procedures

The academic training application procedures must be completed no later than the program end date on the student’s DS-2019 form. If Academic Training is not registered before the end date on the DS-2019 form, the student’s program will be automatically terminated. The authorization for academic training is granted by OISS with the approval of the student’s academic advisor. To apply for academic training, the student must obtain:

  1. A letter from the employer of the proposed training
  2. A statement from the academic advisor

Once a student has the above two letters, they should make an appointment to meet with an advisor in OISS and bring their passport and DS-2019 form to the meeting. The OISS advisor will write a letter authorizing Academic Training. The student should not engage in the academic training until they have received this authorization from OISS.

Note: While on academic training, students are still considered to be in J-1 student status sponsored by UCSB. Students are required to maintain adequate health insurance while on academic training and to update any change in their living address in the UCSB GOLD system.

Off-Campus Employment

The US Department of State advises that university policies governing J-1 off campus employment take precedence over federal regulations regarding J-1 student off-campus employment. UCSB Graduate Division policy states:

All appointments or combined appointments are limited to 50% time (an average of 20 hours a week) during the academic terms. The 50% time restriction will apply without exception for international students, dependent upon their visa type or country of origin (consult the Office of International Students and Scholars for further information). All continuing students may work 100% time during the summer, provided they were registered and paid fees for the immediately preceding spring quarter.

In an exceptional circumstance of urgent financial necessity which has arisen since acquiring J-1 student status, authorization can be given for off-campus employment.  A student cannot begin work without authorization from OISS.  To receive authorization you must provide the following:

  1. Documentation of a serious, urgent and unforeseen economic situation (such documentation can be in the form of bank records, an official notice of loss of departmental funding, or unpaid medical bills, etc.).
  2. A letter from your academic advisor in your department stating that you have discussed your intention to work off campus due to a financial emergency. 
  3. The letter must clearly state that your advisor believes that such employment would not interfere with your academic objectives.

In order to obtain employment authorization, you must make an appointment at OISS to see an international student advisor and bring to that meeting the documentation of your financial emergency. OISS can then issue your written authorization for off-campus work permission up to the end of the period indicated on your current DS-2019 form (item #3) or to the end of your study program.

If your J-1 sponsor is not UCSB, you must request employment authorization from the program sponsor indicated in item #2 of your DS-2019 form – i.e., International Institute of Education, US Agency for international Development, etc.  You will still be limited to the 20 hour per week rule while school is in session.  Additional information for UCSB sponsored J-1 students is available at OISS.