Hiring International Students
International students are some of LMU’s top performers and are eager to gain work experience in the form of internships or employment post-graduation. Including them in your hiring is an opportunity to gain multiple perspectives on your work and to globalize your team. Hiring an international student is much easier than many employers realize, and LMU’s Office for International Students and Scholars (OISS) and Career and Professional Development (CPD) can assist in providing helpful resources related to legal status and employability.
When considering paths to employing international students, here are a few points to keep in mind:
- Hiring an international employee requires only minimal paperwork.
- Employment authorization can last for several years.
- Even when the employment is only short term (12 to 36 months), international employees make lasting contributions to their companies and teams.
- Hiring an international student generally does not represent a large commitment from the employer.
- International student employment laws change frequently, and when hiring a strong candidate for the “short term”, there is always a chance that laws could change to allow an extension of that employment.
Types of International Student Employment
Curricular Practical Training (CPT) internship opportunity while pursuing a degree
- For F-1 students whose off-campus work, internship (paid or unpaid), externship (paid or unpaid) or training experience is required for their degree, or is an integral part of the curriculum.
- Maximum 20 hours per week while school is in session. Full-time CPT is available during summer break.
- The only employer requirement is an offer letter on company letterhead which states a brief description of duties related to the student's major course of study, the start and end dates, whether the internship is full-time or part-time, and the employer name and address.
Optional Practical Training (OPT)/Academic Training after graduation
- This pathway is the most common employment pursued by international students, and requires minimal commitment on the part of the employer.
- Organizations can employ students holding F-1 (foreign student) and J-1 (exchange visitor student) visas for periods of 12 to 36 months, as long as the position is related to the student’s course of study.
- The student and OISS or the J-1 student’s program sponsor, if applicable handles all initial paperwork. In some cases a brief letter offering employment is required.
Temporary Worker visa upon OPT completion
- The H-1B (temporary worker) visa is an option for employers who wish to continue employing an international employee for a longer term (up to six years).
- If OPT has been exhausted or is not an option, an employer can petition for an H-1B visa. This process can take between 4 and 6 months, and should be pursued with some legal counsel.
- H-1B visas are reserved only for those with “professional employment,” which requires a degree in a related field rather than for hourly or less formal work.
Green Card Sponsorship
- In cases where the employee wishes to remain in the United States permanently, the employer could choose to sponsor the employee and support his/her application for a Green Card.
- The Green Card option is less common among LMU’s international student, most of whom intend to return to their home country within several years of graduation.
Verifying Employment Eligibility
Employees – both US citizens and international – must complete an I-9 Employment Eligibility Verification form prior to employment. This form is used to confirm a prospective employee’s eligibility to work within the United States, and is available on the USCIS (United States Customs and Immigration Services) website.
For information please contact the Office of International Students and Scholars (OISS) at 310.338.2937 or firstname.lastname@example.org.