As an international student we understand that you have unique needs, questions and concerns. In addition to our general career services like resumé writing and career advising, the Greene Center can also assist international students in understanding:
- Student Visas – Working, Volunteering, and Interning
- Staying in the US after Graduation
- Returning Home After Graduation
- Practicing English
- International Services Office (ISO)
Student Visas – Working, Volunteering, and Interning
Visa Restrictions on Un-Paid and Volunteer Work
International students can do volunteer work as well as 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. You should contact ISO to confirm that 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 and you can work up to 20 hours per week just like any other student employee. Be sure to contact an international student advisor as well as the student employment coordinator to make sure that you have all of the required documentation filled outbefore you start working on campus.
Visa Restrictions for Paid Internships
If you are going to be paid through a career-related internship, you will need to file for Curricular Practical Training (CPT) if you are classified as F-1. If you are a J-1, you will need to file for Academic Training (AT).
Visit the ISO’s employment page for more information regarding CPT and AT.
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 F-1 Students and Optional Practical Training (OPT)
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), and it is not automatic. You do not need a job offer to apply for OPT.
After you begin your OPT, you are able to work and be paid by any employer for up to one year. 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 the 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 allowance of 29 months.
There are several restrictions on this extension. For example - economics does not qualify as a STEM degree under mathematics. Additionally, the position you are employed in must require the STEM degree you possess and the employer must be registered with the E-Verify Federal Employment Verification System. It is very important to speak with ISO regarding what you and your employer need to do in terms of paperwork and registration in order to qualify for this extension.
Visa Restrictions for J-1 Students and Academic Training (AT)
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, and your employment must be related to your degree.
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.
Employers wishing to hire you full-time in the US following your graduation will need to file for an H-1B visa. H-1B visas are valid for three years, with the option to file an extension for a total of six years. You cannot file or pay for this yourself. The visa is sponsored by, and linked to, the specific company. There are costs for filing the paperwork and employers may be reluctant to take on this cost or may not fully understand how to properly hire an international student.
If an employer does not understand how to hire you, refer them to our international student employment page.
Accepting a Job, Graduate or Professional School Offer
Once you receive a job or graduate school admission offer you should contact ISO to let them know about your change in status and gather 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.
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.
The Greene Center is happy to help you with verbal interviewing skills. We also assist with resumé and cover letter writing, though we may additionally refer you to the Writing, Speaking and Argument Center for assistance. We strongly recommend taking classes where you will be required to do presentations, write papers, and converse with group members to help build your communication skills.
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.