Hiring International Students
Please note that the information provided below should be used for informational purposes only; it is NOT a substitute for professional legal advice
Employing International Students
Over 125 companies have hired international students in the College of Engineering over the past two years. Our international students represent numerous countries around the world and bring tremendous talent and diversity to the workplace. Often times, the students have been exposed to multiple cultures and systems, are multi-lingual, independent, adaptable, and have work experience in a global market.
The following information is aimed at encouraging prospective employers to consider including international candidates in their recruiting strategy.
Engineering Career Services can help you recruit students based on your individual company’s needs. Please contact us to discuss your options!
More employers are acknowledging the unique expertise that a person with multilingual and multicultural skills can bring to the workplace. If the most qualified candidate requires work authorization, there are several hiring options to consider for both short and long term needs. Refer to the “Work Authorization Options” section for more details.
While some students prefer to work and live in the US after graduation, a number of students plan to return to their home country. Recently, many global companies have hired students on a short term basis in the US and then later relocated the individuals to their home country.
Work Authorization Options
Work authorization for international students at Ohio State is facilitated by the Office of International Affairs (OIA). It is ultimately the student’s responsibility to know and follow all related employment regulations. No additional effort is required by the employer.
Curricular Practicum Training (CPT)
Allows full-time international students studying on an F-1 visa to work as interns prior to graduation. The work must be directly related to the student’s course of study. Students are eligible to work part–time (up to 20 hours per week) during the academic year or full-time during the summer vacation term (early May to mid August).
Optional Practicum Training (OPT)
Allows international students studying on an F-1 visa to gain work experience in their major field. OPT is authorized by US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for a maximum of 12 months. Engineering students are eligible for a Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) extension authorizing them to work for an additional 17 months if working for a company that is registered with eVerify.
Academic Training (AT)
Allows international students studying on a J-1 visa to work off campus in a position that directly relates to their field of study. Students may be authorized for AT before or after completion of their program of study for a total of 18 months or the length of the academic program – whichever is shorter.
If an employer wants to keep an international graduate beyond the authorized training period, it is possible to petition and secure an H-1B visa for this purpose. Individuals may work in the US for a maximum of six years under an H-1B visa. This visa is valid only for employment with the company that petitioned for them. The individual and the new company must re-apply to the USCIS 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.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do international students need work authorization before my company can hire them?
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 jobs. Students can give employers a reasonable estimate of when they expect to receive work authorization, but cannot begin working until they have the Employment Authorization Document (EAD) card in their hand and only work within the dates listed on the card.
Is hiring an international student under OPT or CPT expensive and time consuming?
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 Office of International Affairs at Ohio State assists students with the paperwork involved in securing the work authorization for F-1 and J-1 students.
What does the work authorization look like?
For OPT, F-1 students receive an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) from US Citizenship and Immigration Services. An EAD is a small photo identity card that indicates the dates for which they are permitted to work.
For CPT, F-1 students receive authorization from the school (NOT from USCIS) on the student's I-20 form. The I-20 is a multi-purpose document issued by a government approved, US educational institution certifying that a student has been admitted to a full-time study program and that the student has demonstrated sufficient financial resources to stay in the US.
For Academic Training, J-1 students receive work authorization printed on their DS-2019 (basic document used in the administration of the exchange visitor program) by the Responsible Officer (RO) or Alternate Responsible Officer (ARO) at their university. The RO and ARO advise, counsel and assist J-1 visitors in relation to federal law and regulation and execute federal forms related to the status and activities of such individuals.
Does an employer have to prove that international students are not taking jobs from qualified US Citizens?
It depends. US employers are not required to document that a citizen from another country did not take a job from a qualified American if that person is working under an F-1 or J-1 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 and sponsor them for an H-1B visa or Permanent Resident status ("green card").
How many H1-B visas are available each year in the US?
There is a quota of 65,000 H-1B visas available for undergraduates each year, plus an additional 20,000 for international students that graduate with a master’s degree or higher from an American university. Most non-profit, research and educational institutions are able to secure additional H-1B visas not subject to the yearly quota of 85,000. Submitting an H1-B petition can cost anywhere from $2500-$5000. Check with the Department of Labor for the most up-to-date information.
What is the E-Verify program? How can I enroll in E-Verify program?
E-Verify is an Internet-based system that allows businesses to determine the eligibility of their employees to work in the US. E-Verify is fast and easy to use – and it’s the best way employers can ensure a legal workforce. There is no cost to register in the E-Verify program. Information on E-verify and the enrollment procedure can be found at the USCIS website.