What employers should know about hiring international students
International Affairs Office t 719-255-5018 • Email: firstname.lastname@example.org • Website: uccs.edu/international
International students in the U.S. are typically here in F-1 or J-1 status. These two statuses do not allow students to work off-campus without prior authorization. This handout describes the most common and appropriate types of authorizations that may be possible.
Our International Affairs Office is happy to help answer questions, in the meantime here are a few basics and possible employment authorizations:
F-1 Status Students:
- CPT (Curricular Practical Training) – authorization for an employment or internship experience that is a part of a current student’s degree plan. Authorization issued by the UCCS International Affairs officer on student’s immigration document. Time allowed: unlimited (but strict conditions apply, and can affect OPT eligibility). Limited to part-time during academic sessions. Permission can be granted immediately.
- OPT (Optional Practical Training) – Pre-Completion or Post-Completion – authorization for employment directly related to student’s major field of studies. Authorization issued by U.S. government with a full application with assistance from UCCS International Affairs officer. Time allowed: Limited to one year per academic level. Permission takes 60-90 days to be approved, in most cases. Post-completion more common by far.
- STEM OPT – Authorized AFTER a period of full-time post-completion OPT, for students in STEM majors only. Authorized by U.S. government with a full application requiring employer information and sign-off, with assistance from UCCS International Affairs officer. Time allowed: Limited to two additional years beyond OPT. Permission takes 60-90 days to be approved, in most cases, but student can work up to 180 days beyond OPT while awaiting approval.
J-1 Status Students:
- AT (Academic Training) – authorization for a J-1 student can be authorized during studies or immediately after, by UCCS International Affairs officer, with a valid job offer connected to a student’s major field of studies (approved by academic advisor). Time allowed: varies. Permission can be granted immediately.
- Full or Part-time Basis – each of the above authorizations is done for full-time or part-time basis and must be consistent. ‘Full-time’ in CPT or OPT means more than 20 hours/week.
- Time Limits only as authorized – each authorization is limited and the documentation clearly provides the approved time period. Employment permission dates on the authorization must be strictly adhered to.
- Reporting – reporting directly to UCCS International Affairs from the student is required, and in the case of STEM OPT, reporting/sign-off from the employer is also required.
- CPT: Employment eligibility document is the student’s I-20 immigration document, with CPT authorization on p. 2. Student should present the I-20, along with the passport and SSN card.
- OPT or STEM OPT: Employment eligibility document is the Employment Authorization Document card (EAD card), issued by US Citizenship & Immigration Services, along with passport and SSN card.
- AT: Employment eligibility document is the student’s DS-2019 (J-1) document, with AT authorization on p.1, along with the SSN card.
The most common work visa available to students on OPT to be employed full-time beyond OPT is the H-1 ‘Specialty Occupations’ visa. The employer applies for this for qualified employees and jobs. There is an annual application date, an annual cap on the number awarded, and a lottery system (since applications exceed the cap).