Recruiter Guide

Work Authorization

Federal regulations allow international students with F-1 and J-1 statuses to work in the US within certain limits. The responsibilities for requirements of each authorization type can vary, with some authorizations requiring little-to-no work on behalf of the employer.

Fast Facts

  • 5.7% of the students at K are international students
  • 78% hold F-1 status
  • 22% hold J-1 status
  • Current students come from 35 different countries

Top Countries of Origin

  • Vietnam
  • Jamaica
  • China

Advantages to Hiring International Students

  • They are often multilingual
  • They have the courage to tackle the unknown and adapt to different situations
  • They bring a global perspective and can enhance your organization
  • They can excel in diverse workplaces
  • They are considered to be among the brightest and most highly motivated from their home countries

Employment While a Student

Visa TypeAuthorization TypeBasic Eligibility Initial LengthPossible Extension
F-1Curricular Practical Training (CPT)– Must complete 1 academic year
– Must be related to major
– Must earn credit for experience
Part-time: unlimited
Full-time: < 12 months aggregate
or forfeit OPT eligibility
Must apply for specific periods of time. Can apply to additional time, understanding forfeiture of OPT
F-1Pre-Completion Optional Practical Training (OPT)– Must complete 1 academic year
– Must be related to major
– Must be approved by USCIS
Part-time: maximum two years
Full-time: < maximum of 12 months at bachelor level
Must apply for specific periods of time up to maximum limit
Visa TypeEligibility
J-1 Student Off-campus is not allowed until they have completed their academic program at K

Employment After Degree/Program Completion

Visa TypeAuthorization TypeBasic EligibilityInitial LengthPossible Extension
F-1Post-Completion Optional Practical Training (OPT)– Must complete 1 academic year
– Must be related to major
– Must be approved by USCIS
Full-time: up to 12 months at bachelor level, exact amount depends on how much time has been used for Pre-Completion OPTUp to an additional 24 months for STEM fields
J-1 StudentAcademic Training – Must be substantial work related to degreeMaximum of 9 monthsNot applicable

Authorization Responsibilities

Authorization Type Student ResponsibilityEmployer Responsibility & CostK College/CIP Responsibility
F-1 Curricular
Practical Training (CPT)
– Must submit CPT Request Form and Job Offer letter to CIP.  ​
– Must enroll in appropriate credit-bearing course.​
NO COST
– Must provide job offer letter to student​
NO COST
Create I-20 with CPT authorization
F-1 Optional 
Practical Training (OPT)
– Must complete & submit OPT application paperwork to USCIS and receive UCSIS approval prior to starting employment.​
– $410 processing fee to Department of Homeland Security​
– Passport Photos​
– Postage fees
– Must provide a job in appropriate field that corresponds to degree-level​
​- NO COST 
Create I-20 with OPT recommendation
F-1 OPT
STEM Extension
– Must complete form I-983 with employer and submit to CIP.
– Must complete and submit OPT STEM application paperwork to USCIS.
– Must submit 12 month and 24 month evaluations from
I-983, signed by employer​
– $410 processing fee to Department of Homeland Security​
– Passport Photos​
– Postage fees
– Must complete form I-983 with student, which incudes detailed goals/objectives, and 
designated oversight/supervision of student.​
– Must participate in E-verify program​
– If STEM OPT is approved by USCIS, must complete 12 month and 24 month evaluations with students​
​- NO COST
– Create I-20 with OPT STEM
recommendation​
​-Keep I-983 on file and updated with 12-month and 14-month evaluations submitted by student
J-1 Academic TrainingMust submit Academic Training Request Form to CIP– Must provide job offer letter​
NO COST
Extend DS-2019 Program Date and add Academic Training
H-1B (Most Common)– Must have earned a bachelor’s degree​
– Apply with company and immigration attorney
Must choose to sponsor H-1B application.​ Costs include application fees and attorney fees.  Create cap-gap I-20 if H1-B approved and if necessary

Continuing Employment After the Practical/Academic Training Period

Federal regulations require that students terminate their employment 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 of visa category – usually to an H-1B. Students must have a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in order to qualify for H-1B status.

Information on Taxes

Unless exempt due to a tax treaty, F-1 and J-1 students earning income while working on practical training are subject to applicable federal, state, and local income taxes. Information on tax treaties may be found in Internal Revenue Services Publication 519, U.S. Tax Guide For Aliens, and 901, U.S. Tax Treaties.

Generally, F-1 and J-1 students are exempt from Social Security and Medicare tax requirements. However, if F1 and J-1 students are considered “resident aliens” for income tax purposes, Social Security and Medicare taxes should be withheld. Chapter 1 of Internal Revenue Services Publication 519, U.S. Tax Guide for Aliens explains how to determine the residency status of international students. More information on Social Security and Medicare taxes can be found in Chapter 8 of Internal Revenue Services Publication 519, U.S. Tax Guide for Aliens and in Section 940 of Social Security Administration Publication No. 65-008, Social Security Handbook.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Isn’t it illegal to hire international students because they do not have a green card?

A: No. Federal regulations permit the employment of international students on F‐1 and J‐1 visas within certain limits. These visas allow students to work in jobs related to their major field of study. F‐1 students can work on “practical training.” J‐I students may work on “academic training.”

Q: Even if it’s legal to hire international students, won’t it cost a lot of money and involve a lot of paperwork?

A: No. The only cost to the employer hiring international students is the time and effort to interview and select the best candidate for the job. The international student office handles the paperwork involved in securing the work authorization for F‐1 and J‐1 students. In fact, a company may save money by hiring international students because the majority of them are exempt from Social Security (FICA) and Medicare tax requirements.

Q: How long can international students work in the United States with their student visa?

A: F‐1 students are eligible for curricular practical training before completing their studies, as well as an additional 12 months of optional practical training, either before or following graduation, or a combination of the two. Students who complete bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree in STEM field may work for 24 additional months of optional practical training at an E‐Verify employer. However, if they work full‐time for one year or more of Curricular Practical Training, they are not eligible for Optional Practical Training.

Students with a J‐1 visa are usually eligible to work up to 9 months following program completion. The Responsible Officer (RO) or Alternate Responsible Officer (ARO) will evaluate each student’s situation to determine the length of time for which they are eligible to work.

Q: Don’t international students need work authorization before I can hire them?

A: No. International students must have the 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 the 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

Q: What does the work authorization look like?

A: For Optional Practical Training, F‐1 students receive from USCIS an Employment Authorization Document (EAD), a small photo identity card that indicates the dates for which they are permitted to work. For Curricular Practical Training, F‐1 students receive authorization from the school (NOT from CIS) on the back of the student’s I‐20. “No Service endorsement is necessary” ‐ per 8CFR 74a.12(b)(6)(iii). J‐1 students receive work authorization from the school on the student’s DS-2019.

Q: What if I want to continue to employ international students after their work authorization expires?

A: 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.

Q: Doesn’t an employer have to prove that international students are not taking jobs from a qualified American?

A: No. American employers are not required to document that a citizen of another country did not take a job from a qualified American if that person is working under an F‐1, J‐1 or H‐1B visa. Employers must document that they did not turn down a qualified American applicant for the position only when they wish to hire foreign citizens on a permanent basis and sponsor them for a permanent resident status (“green card”).

Q: Can I hire international students as volunteer interns?

A: Normally, if the internship involves no form of compensation and is truly voluntary, the students may volunteer without having to do any paperwork with the USCIS. If, however, the internship provides a stipend or any compensation, students must obtain permission for practical training or academic training prior to starting their internship. Students should check with their employers to ensure that the company is allowed by law to offer unpaid internships.

Q: What is the cost of E‐Verify program and how can I enroll in E‐Verify program?

A: 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.

Additional Resources

United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)

USCIS Home Page: https://www.uscis.gov/

USCIS Working in the US: https://www.uscis.gov/working-in-the-united-states

USCIS Temporary workers (all): https://www.uscis.gov/working-in-the-united-states/temporary-nonimmigrant-workers

H-1B General Information: https://www.myvisajobs.com/H1B_Visa.aspx

USCIS Case Checker: https://egov.uscis.gov/casestatus/landing.do

USCIS Green Card Information: https://www.uscis.gov/green-card

National Association of College and Employers (NACE)

NACE Home Page: https://www.naceweb.org/default.aspx

National Career Development Association (NCDA)

NCDA Resources for Partnering with International Students 2020 Edition: https://ncda.org/aws/NCDA/asset_manager/get_file/223782?ver=11304

Department of Homeland Security (DHS)

DHS – Study in the States: https://studyinthestates.dhs.gov/

Adapted from a guide created by the Illinois Career Service Council, as well as a document that was originally published in 2000with a grant from NAFSA: Association of International Educators Region XII.2004 revision by Laurie Cox, University of Southern California, and Co-Chair of SCICC( Southern California International Careers Consortium): co-editors: Lay Tuan Tan, California State University Fullerton, and SCICC Board Member and Phil Hofer, University of La Verne.