Employment for International Students in the US!

Coming from a country where English is not the primary language, it was not very easy to start as a full time undergraduate student in US.  However, diversity in the university made life easier. Cooperative faculty, career development resources available on and off campus, and availability of advanced technologies are a few things that helped me throughout my student years.

Many International Students usually look for opportunities of part time jobs on campus.  Students are allowed to work 20 hours during the school year and 40 hours during summer and winter breaks. International Students, however, require work permit to work anywhere out of college; starting from working as a server in a food court to working for a well-known company as a professional.

Furthermore, most academic majors require students to complete certain credits of Internship for them to complete their degree successfully. For the purpose of working as a professional as per the major, the student requires CPT or OPT.

CPT (Curricular Practical Training) for internships:

F1 regulations define Curricular Practical Training as “alternate work/study, internship, cooperative education, or any other type of required internship or practicum that is offered by sponsoring employers through cooperative agreements with the university.”

OPT (Optional Practical Training) – One year of employment authorization in your field of study:

OPT is work authorization granted by Immigration/USCIS to allow F-1 students to gain experience directly related to their major area of study. It may be used before or after completion of studies for up to one year per level of study. The far majority of students use OPT to work after degree completion (post-completion OPT).

This semester is quickly coming to a close and with it, the school year. It is a time full of stress and anxiety. Studying for finals and wrapping up course work can be exhausting. The time it takes for the final grades to be posted can feel like it lasts a lifetime. As classes wrap up many students will be heading off to their new careers and a few others will be transferring to other colleges. Yet, there are a great many students who will be using this summer to sit back, relax, and enjoy the warm weather while hanging out with friends. The summer will be a time to forget about the worries of college and adult life that are hiding in the distant future. For those of you who are returning next fall, this summer is seen a break before the madness resumes in August.

If International students with student visa (F1) are willing to continue working for any company on the field they graduated in, they should have a visa status of H1B. If they have an employer who has indicated they are interested in pursuing an H1B in a timely manner, that is before the OPT period is over, then the person can continue working as a full time. Only a certain number of H1B’s are available for a year from October through next October, and this limit/cap is quickly reached.

The International students, who want to finish their education, gain some work experience and return back to their home country would probably only look for employers who are hiring or employers they want to work for. On the contrary, most students, who desire to stay in the US for more than a year and work for the US companies, along with searching for job openings, consider applying for companies who are willing to sponsor.

Employers usually want to hire interns expecting them to learn from the company, prepare themselves for the real world environment, and intend to hire the potential interns full time once they graduate. Due to this reason, employers who do not sponsor H1B tend to add their requirement in job descriptions as “Candidates’ Visa status should be Permanent Resident or must be a US Citizen.” This clause deprives many students from applying to companies they want to work for, even just for internships.

However, there are several companies who provide equal opportunities to International Students as per the qualification.

Here are some helpful links that may assist in your job/internship search:

Rashmi Maharjan
Minnesota State University, Mankato
International Student
Teaching Assistant, IT 100
Student Lead, Academic Computer Center

Rashmi Maharjan

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