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Hiring International Students

intlThe University has a sizeable and diverse international student population that brings unique talents and perspectives to our community. It is possible to hire international students for internships and full-time jobs, but there are some special considerations. The Greene Center can provide basic information about hiring an international student.You may also contact the University’s International Services Office (ISO) regarding F-1 and J-1 work permissions, or consult an immigration attorney on other employment categories.


It is often possible to hire international students for internships during the academic year, during breaks, and over the summer.

Unpaid Internships & Volunteer Work

International students may accept and work at an unpaid internship or volunteer opportunity without needing to process any paperwork, as long as they are not replacing a paid US worker and are not receiving any compensation. ISO recommends a letter documenting this arrangement as a protection for both the student and the employer.

 Be aware that any sort of compensation is considered payment, including housing, buying books, stipends, etc. Please consult the Department of Labor’s fact sheet on internships (#71).

In some situations, the ISO still recommends that students obtain practical training authorization for unpaid opportunities, which would need to happen in advance of their start date.

Paid Internships - Curricular Practical Training Authorization

For paid internships, the student must apply for CPT authorization from the ISO in advance of any work activities. It is the student’s responsibility to do this, but they will need an official offer letter well in advance of their scheduled start date. There is no cost to the student or the employer. Once the international student has obtained a new I-20 document authorizing the employment, they should then be paid through your regular payroll process.

Full-time Work

Most international students are sponsored through the University’s F-1 or J-1 student visa programs. For students holding other visa categories, please consult with an immigration attorney. Following graduation, there are several options for hiring an international student. Many of the following situations rely on the student’s current visa status, previous time spent working, and other factors.

F-1 Optional Practical Training (OPT) & J-1 Academic Training (AT)

Most undergraduate students have F-1 Visas which makes them eligible for up to 12 months of OPT during, and following, each degree. Students are responsible for applying for OPT through the US Citizenship and Immigration Service via a recommendation from ISO. You do not need to fill out any paper work for the federal government or any other agency. Processing times for these applications can result in delays, often beyond the student’s control. It is important to coordinate prior to their starting work.

J-1 students are eligible for up to 18 months of AT. Authorizations are processed through the ISO, with appropriate documentation of the job offer and academic approval. The work permission must be processed before the student starts working.

You may hire the international student through your regular payroll with an I-9 form. Please check with your accountant or immigration attorney to determine appropriate tax withholding, if necessary.

OPT 24-Month Extension for STEM Candidates

Candidates holding a degree in STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, mathematics or economics) are eligible to apply for a 24-month extension of their OPT. To submit their application, a contractual training agreement must be submitted to ISO and the employer must be enrolled in the E-Verify federal employment tracking system. If you are interested in assisting an OPT student with obtaining this 24-month extension, please contact ISO or consult with your immigration attorney.

H1B Visa - Longer-term Work (12/18+ months - 6 years)

If you wish to continue employing an international student beyond the 12 or 18 months of OPT/AT, you will need to sponsor them for an H-1B visa. An H-1B visa is good for three years, with the option to extend to a total of six years. You need to apply for this three to four months prior to the OPT allowance ending, however the H-1B quota is making this more difficult.

Requirements for H-1B:

If you wish to continue employing an international student beyond their available F-1 or J-1 work permissions, you may need to sponsor them as an H-1B Temporary Worker. Specific eligibility requirements must be met and application timing can be very strict. We recommend that you work with an immigration attorney to evaluate this sponsorship plan at least 6 to 9 months before current work authorization may expire.