A US Employer’s Guide to Hiring International Students

Hiring international students can be an excellent way to leverage some of the world’s best and most diverse talents for your organization. In this blog, we will be discussing the options for employment authorization that are available for international students studying in the US.

Explaining the F-1/J-1 Status:

An international student needs a student visa in order to be able to pursue a program of study in the United States. Most universities within the country offer two distinct forms of status for nonimmigrants:

F-1 Status:

This student status is primarily issued for nonimmigrant students wanting to pursue a specific degree program (such as BS, MS, Ph.D., or MD) anywhere in the United States. An F-1 student status might be issued for certain programs. The documents required for students wanting F-1 status include: F-1 visa, Form I-20, Electronic I-94 record or I-94 card, and an admission stamp.

J-1 Status:

This is a form of status that is primarily used for nonimmigrants attending an exchange program in the US. The documents required for the J-1 student status include: J-1 visa, Form DS-2019, Electronic I-94 record, I-94 card, and an admission stamp.

Since the vast majority of US nonimmigrant students obtain an F-1 student status, this guide will be focused on hiring an F-1 student.

Hiring F-1 Students for Internships:

CPT (Curricular Practical Training):

Through the CPT work authorization, an F-1 student can start practical training related to their specific academic field after they have studied full-time for at least a year. The most common CPT opportunities consist of internship programs. Based on the specific CPT policy, a student can be permitted to work either part-time or full-time during the internship duration. If the student’s specific academic program requires them to complete an internship during their initial year of studying, the one-year full-time study requirement might be waived.


Even though there is no duration limit, once a student completes a full year of full-time CPT, they are no longer eligible for OPT (Optional Practical Training). On the other hand, working part-time under a CPT program does not have any impact on OPT eligibility. If it is required by a student’s academic program, they have the option to go for CPT on the very first day of the program.

The Role of the Employer:

Since CPT application is solely the student’s responsibility, the hiring organization is not required to act in any way. However, the employer will usually have to send a letter to the intern confirming their acceptance into the internship program.

The Role of the Student:

Once the student receives an internship offer from an organization, they must submit an application to their sponsoring school. This online application must contain the starting and ending dates for the internship, as well as the name of the hiring organization. The said process will be assisted by the school’s international student department. US immigration regulations require that a student who engages in full-time or part-time CPT must remain a full-time student throughout the academic year. However, the student needs not have a full-time enrollment during periods of official vacation (the summers, for example).

Processing Time and Cost:

It usually takes around 5-12 working days for a CPT to be processed and approved. An employer will not endure any costs for this process.

Hiring F-1 Students for Full-Time Roles:

Post-Completion OPT (Optional Practical Training):

Post-completion OPT is the work authorization through which graduated F-1 students can obtain practical experience that is related to their academic field.


For an F-1 student, the OPT duration is 12 months. It is important to remember that the time period for any pre-completion approved OPT shall be subtracted from this 12-month period.