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Toolkit

International Students

As an international student we understand that you have unique needs, questions and concerns. Below is some general information for international students.

The career center also offers advice on networking, resume and cover letter writing, graduate, law and medical school and other areas that can help you prepare for your career either in the US or abroad.

For more information about career resources explore our site or talk to a career advisor.


Student Visa – Working, Volunteering, and Interning

Visa Restrictions on Un-Paid and Volunteer Work

International students can do volunteer work, and un-paid work or internships without filing paperwork or changing status. It’s important to realize that any compensation, including paying for books, stipends, and gifts, is considered payment.

Check with ISO for questions on if your work is truly un-paid or volunteer work.

Visa Restrictions for On-Campus Student Employment

F-1 and J-1 students are eligible to work on-campus. You can work up to 20 hours per week, just like any other student employee.

Please talk to an international student advisor and the student employment coordinator to make sure you have all of the required documentation filled out before you start working on campus.

Visa Restrictions for Paid Internships

If you are going to be working at a career-related internship and will be getting paid, you need to file for Curricular Practical Training (CPT) if F-1, or Academic Training (AT) if J-1 through the International Services Office.

More information on CPT can be found at the ISO’s employment page.

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Staying in the US after Graduation

Most international student visas include a practical training period that will allow you to work following graduation. This time is usually measured in months, but can lead to longer-term visa sponsorship by an employer.

Visa Restrictions for Optional Practical Training (OPT)/Academic Training (AT)

F-1 Students

F-1 students are eligible for 12 months of OPT during and following their graduation from each subsequent higher degree. You must apply for your OPT at least one month prior to completion of all degree requirements (not the same as your graduation date), it is not automatic. You do not need a job offer to apply for OPT.

Under OPT you are able to work and be paid by any employer for up to a year after you being your OPT. Your job must be related to your degree, and require at least a bachelor’s degree. If you do not get a job, you must submit proof to ISO that you are actively looking for a job while on OPT.

OPT 17-Month Extension for STEM Graduates

Students currently in OPT status are able to apply for a 17-month extension if they are in the fields of science, technology, engineering or math. This gives such candidates a total OPT a total allowance of 29 months.

There are several restrictions on this extension, including paperwork and registration that you employer must fill out. It is important to speak with ISO regarding what you and your employer need to do to qualify for this extension, and it is expected to affect only a small number of OPT candidates.

Degree programs included in the STEM fields:

  • Actuarial science
  • Computer science applications
  • Engineering
  • Engineering technologies
  • Biological and biomedical sciences
  • Mathematics and statistics
  • Military technologies
  • Physical sciences
  • Science technologies
  • Medical scientist

Please note that economics does not qualify under mathematics and that the position you are employed in must require the STEM degree you possess.

Finally, to qualify for a STEM extension, the F1/OPT student must be employed by or have a job offer from and employer registered with the E-Verify federal employment verification system. Please speak with ISO and your employer about this condition.

More information on OPT can be found on the ISO employment page.

J-1 Students

J-1 students are eligible for up to a total of 18 months of Academic Training (AT) before and after graduation combined. You must have an offer letter from an employer to apply for AT, as well as a recommendation from your departmental academic advisor.

Under AT, you are able to work and be paid by the employer who wrote the offer letter you submitted as part of your application. Your employment must be related to your degree.

More information on OPT can be found on the ISO employment page.

Full-time (post-graduation) Work Visas

There are several options for full-time work visas after you complete your degree. The most common is the H-1B visa, but there may be other options for you. Consult with the ISO and/or an immigration attorney to fully understand your options.

H-1B Visas

Employers wishing to hire you full-time in the US following your graduation and any practical or academic training, will need to file for an H-1B visa. You cannot file or pay for this yourself.

The visa is sponsored by, and linked to the company. There are costs for filing the paperwork and employers may be reluctant to take on this cost, or not understand how to hire an international student. H-1B visas are valid for three years, with the option to file an extension for a total of six years.

If an employer does not understand how to hire you, you can send them to our hire an international student page.

Accepting a Job, Graduate or Professional School Offer

Once you receive a job or graduate school admission offer contact ISO to let them know about your change in status and get information about the necessary paperwork.

Make sure to file status change paperwork on time. Once you accept an offer, all related job search and graduate school admissions efforts should stop.

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Returning Home After Graduation

While our resources for a particular country may be limited, we are ready to work with you on coming up with a strategy, identifying resources at home, and finding information on the work market in different countries.

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English Practice

The Career Center is happy to help you with verbal interviewing skills. We also assist with resume and cover letter writing, though we may additionally refer you to the Writing, Speaking and Argument Center for assistance.

We also strongly recommend taking classes where you will be required to do presentations, write papers, and converse with group members.

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International Services Office (ISO)

ISO staffers can provide information regarding documentation, timelines, and change of status, applying for CPT and OPT, as well as all visa status questions.

Check out the ISO website for more information.

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