Hiring international students

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International student hiring

In order to build for what’s next in the global economy, companies need the best talent available. Opening your jobs and internships to international students will significantly broaden your pool of highly skilled talent. 

Obtaining permission for international students to work in the U.S. is not as difficult as many employers think. Most international students are in the U.S. on non-immigrant student visas (F-1), and these international students are eligible to accept employment under certain conditions. Johns Hopkins Carey Business School has many STEM designated programs as well, allowing students who meet certain criteria to work in the U.S. for an extended time period. 


Internship U.S. work authorization

Students studying in the U.S. in F-1 status may be authorized through CPT to work off-campus, in jobs or internships related to their course of study, during their academic program. These candidates are eligible to work and collect compensation. Hiring a student on F-1 status requires minimal considerations on the part of the employer. Employers need only provide an offer letter containing certain criteria on company letterhead to the student. 

For more information on CPT, click here.

After graduation U.S. work authorization

International student graduates can be authorized to work in the U.S. for 12 months through OPT.  There are no considerations or expenses on the part of the employer to hire someone through OPT. 

Eligible graduates who have completed at STEM designated degree (MS Information Systems, MS Finance, MS Business Analytics Risk Management) are eligible for an extended OPT period, under certain conditions.

For more information on OPT, click here and for information on the STEM extension, click here

Practical training and F-1 students

Practical training is a legal means by which F-1 students can obtain employment in areas related to their academic field of study. Students, in general, must have completed one academic year (approximately nine months) in F-1 status and must maintain their F-1 status to be eligible for practical training. There are two types of practical training:

  • Optional Practical Training
  • Curricular Practical Training

Optional practical training

Optional Practical Training must be authorized by the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services based on a recommendation from the designated school official in the International Student Office of the school which issued the form I-20, a government document which verifies the student’s admission to that institution. The term “optional” means that students can opt to use all or part of their total practical training allotment of a maximum of 12 months. OPT can be authorized by the BCIS, and generally students can work 12 months of practical training after completing their program of study. It should be noted that for BCIS purposes, students working anything more than 20 hours/week will be considered full-time. Students who have received OPT permission will be issued an Employment Authorization Document by the BCIS. Their name, photo and valid dates of employment are printed on the EAD. Employers should note that average processing time for BCIS to issue the EAD is two or three months, and students may begin employment only after they receive the EAD which will indicate the starting and ending dates of employment.

Curricular practical training

Curricular Practical Training may be authorized by the institution (not by BCIS) for F-1 students participating in curricular-related employment such as cooperative education, alternate work/study, practicum, and internship programs. This work experience must be deemed an integral part of an established curriculum in the student’s course of study. Authorization is written on page three of the I-20 student copy and will include the name of the company, address and zip code, beginning and ending date, and signature of the designated school official in the International Student Office. Since each institution has different policies related to curricular-related employment, students should speak to the DSO at their institution. Processing time for the authorization of CPT varies at each institution. Employers should check with the student’s institution for an approximate turnaround time.

Minimal paperwork for the employer

There is little paperwork for an employer who hires F-1 or J-1 students. All paperwork is handled by the students, the school, and the BCIS. For CPT, the school will make a notation on the students’ copy of the I-20 form indicating that CPT has been authorized and specifying the duration and place of employment. Students authorized for OPT are required to apply to BCIS (through the International Student Office of the school) for an Employment Authorization Document.

Continuing employment after the practical/academic training period

Federal regulations require that employment terminates at the conclusion of the authorized practical or academic training. However, students on an F-1 visa, or students on a J-1 visa who are not subject to a two-year home residency requirement, may continue to be employed, if they receive approval for a change in visa category-usually to H-1B. Students must have a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in order to qualify for H-1B status.

Individuals may work in the U.S. for a maximum of six years under an H-1 B visa. This visa is valid only for employment with the company that petitioned for them. They must re-apply to the BCIS if they wish to change employers. As soon as the initial job offer is made, they should petition for an H-1B visa if employment is likely to extend beyond the practical training period.