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Career Development Center

Hiring International Students

Need to know When Hiring International Students

Getting permission for international students to work in the U.S. is not as difficult as many employers may think. Most international students are in the U.S on non-immigrant student visas (F-1 and J-1) and these international students are eligible to accept employment under certain conditions.

PRACTICAL TRAINING FOR STUDENTS WITH STUDENT VISA
Practical training is a legal means for an F-1 student to obtain employments in areas that are directly related to their major field of study. Students must have completed one academic year (a fall and spring semester) and currently be in F-1 status. There are two types of practical training: Curricular Practical Training (CPT) and Optional Practical Training (OPT).

CURRICULAR PRACTICAL TRAINING (CPT)
CPT is an internship, practicum or co-op in the student’s major field of study. Authorization for CPT is given by the institution that issued the student’s I-20. If a student exceeds one year of full time CPT, they are no longer eligible for an Optional Practical Training later.

WHAT IS NEEDED FROM EMPLOYERS WHEN STUDENT APPLIES FOR CPT
For employers hiring international students on F-1 or J-1 status, there is minimal paperwork for the employer in order for the student to obtain work authorization. For CPT, employers need to complete the Employer Hiring Agreement and provide an offer letter on company letterhead with the following information:

  • Job title of the student’s position
  • Dates of employment
  • Number of hours per week
  • Company address/address where duties will be performed
  • Name of Supervisor
  • Description of job responsibilities

The International Education Office has made a sample of a CPT offer letter available to employers

OPTIONAL PRACTICAL TRAINING (OPT)
OPT allows international students to gain one year of experience in a field related to their degree. It requires a formal application with U.S Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) that includes the recommendation from the designated school official (DSO) at the school which issued the form I-20. The job the student has for OPT must be directly related to their major field of study. The processing time for the application once submitted to USCIS is at least 90 days. The cost of the application to the student is $410. The student’s authorization is the Employment Authorization Document (EAD card). There is no cost to the employer for OPT.

PRACTICAL TRAINING FOR J-1 STUDENTS
Exchange students enter the U.S on a J-1 visa. Practical training under the J-1 visa is called “Academic Training”. International students who enter the U.S. on a J-1 visa can work for either the length of their program (if they are only here for one or two semesters) or 18 months if they complete their Bachelors or Masters Degrees at the U.S. University. Academic Training is granted in the form of a letter by the Responsible Officer (RO) or Alternate Responsible Officer (ARO). Students should speak with their RO or ARO first to learn how long they can do the practical training.

Frequently Asked questions (FAQ)

DOESN'T AN INTERNATIONAL STUDENT NEED A GREEN CARD TO WOK IN THE U.S.?
No. They do need to acquire work authorization before beginning any employment, as discussed above, but not a green card.

WON'T HIRING AN INTERNATIONAL STUDENT COST THE COMPANY A LOT OF MONEY?
No. For practical training options, either an internship while they are still a student, or during OPT for one year after graduation, there are no additional expenses to the company. The company would pay them just as they would an American citizen. After a student’s OPT time is completed, if an employer chooses to sponsor an employee, there would be fees associated with that. See the last paragraph on this page for more details.

DON'T INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS NEED WORK AUTHORIZATION BEFORE I CAN HIRE THEM?
No. International students do need work authorization before they can start working at the company, this includes any training or orientation. However they do not need work authorization in order for you to offer them a position.

WHAT DOES THE WORK AUTHORIZATION LOOK LIKE?
For Curricular Practical Training (CPT) and Academic Training (AT), the authorization is located on the student’s immigration documents. For CPT, the authorization is found on the 2nd page of the student’s I- 20, where it says Work authorization. The company’s name and the dates work authorization would be located there. For AT, the authorization will be in the form of a letter from the Responsible Officer or Alternate Responsible Officer and would also appear on page one of the student’s DS-2019.

For OPT, the student would have an Employment Authorization Document (EAD card). This looks similar to a driver’s license in size and includes the student’s name, photo, date of birth and then the work authorization start and end date would be located at the bottom of the card.

WHAT IF I WANT TO CONTINUE TO EMPLOY INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS AFTER THEIR WORK AUTHORIZATION EXPIRES?
This is possible, but planning and timing is key. Employers can sponsor an international student on an H-1B visa, which is for a total of six years (two authorization periods of three years). The H-1B visa is a temporary working visa for workers in a “Specialty Occupation”. A good guide for the H-1B process is located on the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services page