Hiring F-1 Students
Why hire an international student?
International students can be valuable contributions to any company or organization as they may bring different perspectives or insights to your workplace. Many employers are concerned about liability issues related to the employment of international students in the United States due to changes in federal laws governing non‐citizens. Getting 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 J‐1), and these international students are eligible to accept employment under certain conditions. F-1 students are eligible for off-campus work authorization called Curricular Practical Training (CPT) or Optional Practical Training (OPT).
What employers should know?
Minimal Paperwork for the Employer
Fortunately, 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 USCIS (for OPT).
Continuing Employment after the Practical/Academic Training Period
With a bit of planning ahead, an employer can hire international students to continue to work for them in the H‐1B visa category for a total of six years (authorization is granted in two three‐year periods). The H‐1B is a temporary working visa for workers in a "specialty occupation." The application procedure to the USCIS is straightforward. The job must meet two basic requirements: 1) The salary must meet the prevailing wage as defined by the Department of Labor 2) A bachelor's degree is a minimum normal requirement for the position.
What is the E‐Verify program and how can I enroll and is there a cost?
There is no cost to register in E‐Verify program. Information on E‐verify and the enrollment procedure can be found at the USCIS website at www.uscis.gov/everify.
Do international students need work authorization before being hired?
No. International students must have work authorization before they begin actual employment, but not before they are offered employment. In fact, J‐1 students must have a written job offer in order to apply for work authorization. Many F‐1 students will be in the process of obtaining work authorization while they are interviewing for employment. Students can give employers a reasonable estimate of when they expect to receive work authorization.
As an employer, what must you provide to an international student?
If you wish to offer an F-1 student a job or internship through their CPT benefit, you must supply them with an offer letter. This offer letter must include the following:
- CPT start and end dates
- Employer's name
- Student’s name
- Hours of work per week
- Title of position
- Description of their position duties
- The address where their work will be performed
- Official company representative name
- Official company representative signature or official e-signature. Typed signatures or signature fonts will not be accepted.
- Date of the signature
During Pre-OPT & Post-OPT
If you wish to offer an F-1 student a job or internship through their Pre or Post-OPT benefits, you must supply them with an offer letter. An F-1 student cannot work until they receive their EAD card, and before or beyond the dates authorized on their EAD card (this includes volunteering and unpaid internships).
For Pre-OPT, once a student obtains a position, they must update their employment with the ISSC. For this information, they will need the EIN for your company or organization in addition to other biographical information about your company and their job duties.
For Post-OPT, once a student obtains a position, they must update their employment with the Student Exchange Visitor Program. For this information, they will need the EIN for your company or organization in addition to other biographical information about your company and their job duties.
During STEM OPT Extension
A STEM OPT student and their employer must complete and sign the Form I-983 before the student may apply for a STEM OPT extension.
The formal training plan on page 3 of the form I-983 must clearly articulate the STEM OPT student’s learning objectives and affirm the employer’s commitment in helping the student achieve those objectives. To fulfill this requirement, a student and their employer must complete and sign Form I-983 and submit it to the student’s DSO. Typed or electronic signatures are not accepted on form I-983.
STEM OPT students and their employers are subject to the terms and conditions of the 24-month STEM OPT extension regulations, the Form I-983 instructions and the completed Form I-983, effective as of the employment start date requested for the associated STEM OPT period, as indicated on the Form I-983.
The employer must help the student complete two self-evaluations during the course of their 24-Month OPT STEM Extension period, which are on page 5 of the Form I-983. The first one within 12 months of the STEM OPT start date and a second at the end of the STEM OPT period. Evaluations must be signed by the student and their immediate supervisor, and then submitted to ISSC by eForm.
Students and employers can use this page to learn about the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) rules and regulations for the optional practical training (OPT) extension for F-1 students with science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) degrees.
Employers: STEM OPT Reporting Requirements
Visit the STEM OPT Extension Overview to learn more.