Hiring International Students
International Careers Consortium coordinates the resources of career development/placement and international student offices of more than 35 northeastern colleges and universities. This network serves to enhance its members' professional development and to develop career opportunities for the following:
- International students studying in the United States.
- American students with international career plans.
- Recruiters from internationally oriented employers.
The International Careers Consortium has prepared the information below as a service to employers and international students. It is designed to answer some of the most common questions employers have about hiring an international student and to demonstrate how easy and rewarding it can be to do so.
Q1. Can International Students work in the United States?
International students generally hold either F-1 (student) or J-1 (exchange visitor) visas while they are studying in the Unites States. The Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) permits students in both categories to be employed full-time by U.S. employers through the "Practical Training" program. The INS defines practical training as paid employment related to the student's field of study. Eligible students need not change their visa status to accept this type of employment.
Q2. How long are students eligible to work?
Students with F-1 visa status are eligible for up to 12 months of employment before completion of their degree, or following graduation. Students with J-1 visa status are eligible for 18 months of employment before completion of their degree or following graduation.
Q3. How do students obtain permission to work?
A student on an F-1 visa will obtain an EAD (Employment Authorization Document) from the INS upon recommendation of his/her school. Students must submit the appropriate INS forms, as well as a fee. Adjudication may take a few weeks. A J-1 visa holder receives authorization directly from his/her school after receipt of a job offer.
Q4. What must I do to employ an international student?
An employer need only complete an I-9 form, as for any new employee.
Employers do not have to:
- Sponsor a student for a green card.
- Prove that no U.S. citizen is available to do the job.
- Complete any special paperwork, other than the usual for U.S. citizens.
Q5. What will the student have as proof of employability?
A student that holds an F-1 visa will receive a laminated EAD (Employment Authorization Document) card, which is similar to a driver's license. It is issued by the INS upon receipt of a recommendation from the student's school. A J-1 visa holder is authorized by his or her school and will receive an extended IAP-66 (Pink immigration form) once he or she has a job offer letter.
Q6. Should taxes be withheld from the student's pay?
Contributions for Social Security should not be withheld from wages of non-immigrant students on authorized practical training; however, earnings from student employment are usually subject to federal and state income taxes. Refer to IRS publications 518 and 519 for additional information.
Q7. What if I want to extend the student's employment?
Students are eligible to apply for an H-1B (temporary worker) visa, which can provide three to six additional years of employment. A student on an F-1 visa, or a student on a J-1 visa not subject to home residency requirement, may continue to be employed, provided that a change of visa status (usually to H-1B) is applied for and approved by the INS. It is only valid for employment with the company that petitioned the student. The international graduate must reapply to the INS if he or she wishes to change firms.
Q8. What role do I play in obtaining an H-1B visa?
Employers should apply for an H-1B petition a few months before practical training expires. Employers must obtain an approved Labor Condition application from the Local Department of Labor office attesting to salary and working conditions in order to file for the H-1B visa. The cost for processing this paperwork may be absorbed by the employer or the employee, according to employer's policies.
Q9. Are there any restrictions on obtaining an H-1B visa?
A student on a J-1 visa may be subject to a home residency requirement. This requires the student to return home for two years after the completion of practical training before changing to another visa status in the United States. He or she is ineligible for H-1B status until the residency requirement is fulfilled or waived.
Q10. What are the advantages of hiring an international student?
International Students can offer employers a wide range of skills and abilities:
- Proven English language ability and and understanding of American culture.
- Multiple language skills.
- Demonstrated motivation.
- Willingness to adapt to new situations.
- Knowledge of business practices in another country.
- A U.S. education.
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