Hiring Process for International Students on OPT in the US

United States
#studentvisa #work

International students are great assets to any industry because they offer distinct perspectives and talents to the American employment market. This brief guide will help you go through the recruiting procedure and reach this varied talent pool if you're thinking about hiring an overseas student, especially one who is participating in Optional Practical Training (OPT).

Understanding OPT for International Students

The F-1 student visa serves as the entry point for the majority of foreign students studying in the United States. By participating in "practical training," these students are able to work in the fields for which they have degrees. Optional Practical Training (OPT), a brief job benefit for F-1 students, is the most popular type of practical training.

The ease of the OPT application procedure is highlighted by Aaron Blumberg of the reputable immigration law firm Fragomen, who states that "the student is solely responsible for filing the application." In contrast to other work visa schemes, OPT does not require employer sponsorship. A student can begin working as soon as they obtain their Employment Authorization Document (EAD).

Internship Opportunities with CPT

Students frequently use Curricular Practical Training (CPT), a type of work authorization under OPT, for internships. This enables F-1 students to complete a year of full-time study and acquire practical experience in their academic field. Employers are not very involved; students bear the majority of the obligation.

Declaring, "It is critical that employers confirm an international student's work authorization prior to employment start date to prevent any liability for the student and the employer in the future," Blumberg emphasizes the significance of employers doing this before the employment start date. 

The duration of CPT is adjustable, and approvals are typically granted in 5–10 working days.

A student during her internship - Hiring Process for International Students

Full-Time Employment: Navigating OPT for Graduates

With post-completion OPT, international students can continue to be able to work after they graduate. The procedure is a two-step application wherein the student asks their international advisor for an OPT recommendation before submitting the application to USCIS for approval. There is no upfront investment, and companies are not directly involved in the application process.

According to Blumberg, employers need to be aware that an overseas student's Social Security Number does not serve as verification of their eligibility to work. The Employment Authorization Document (EAD), issued by USCIS, is a crucial document. It is advised to apply as early as possible for OPT because, during busy times, the processing period can extend to three to four months.

Extended Opportunities with STEM OPT

There is an extra option for a 24-month extension through STEM OPT for students with STEM degrees. Companies take a more hands-on approach, setting up formal training programs and signing up for E-Verify. 

After submitting a training plan for approval, the student asks for an extension with USCIS. Blumberg points out that the STEM OPT extension needs to be submitted before the original OPT period ends.

Hiring overseas students on out-of-program (OPT) brings with it a potential talent pipeline, specialized skills, and a diversity of perspectives, as Blumberg highlights. Employers have the opportunity to diversify their workforce and even help foreign workers get green cards or longer-term work permits.

Employers may support diversity and innovation in the dynamic U.S. labour market by integrating overseas students into their teams with ease and by having a thorough understanding of the OPT process and its numerous components.


What is Curricular Practical Training (CPT), and how does it benefit employers?

Under OPT, CPT is a type of work permit that enables F-1 students to participate in experiential learning, frequently through internships. Employers only need to confirm the internship offer; that's about it.

Can employers submit an OPT application on the student's behalf?

No, it is the student's responsibility to apply for OPT. Once the student gets their EAD, employers are under no obligation to make an offer.

Does the OPT process come at an expense to employers?

Employers often incur no fees when hiring international students under OPT. Students are mostly responsible for the processing fees and obligations.


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