International Student Employment Information
International students are frequently interested in gaining practical work experience before and after they graduate but there are many regulations and requirements that need to determine what the right course of action for that student to take.
International Students are typically eligible to work on campus in College Roll positions. Please review International Student and Scholar Services page on On-Campus Employment for more information.
Those positions are handled by each individual department. Students seeking a College Roll Position must speak directly to departments they are interested in working for. Positions may be advertised on Fitforum and when notified Career Managements Services will post position in Panther Career Link.
International Student's Guide to On-Campus Employment
Before beginning any job off-campus, students should always speak to International Student and Scholar Services. Each student is unique and we have little knowledge of your visa and requirements that you may need to meet. International Students working off campus will typically be doing one of two types of Pratical Training; curricular pratical training and optional pratical training. International Student and Scholar Services has put together a presentation reviewing both types of employment in much more detail which is located here.
An F-1 student may be authorized by the DSO to participate in a curricular practical training program that is an integral part of an established curriculum. Curricular practical training is defined to be alternative 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 school. Students interested in CPT may need to register for Co-op credit. This should be done after the student speaks to both International Student and Scholar Services and their Academic Advisor to determine what is he best course of action to take. Additional information on CPT is available on the International Student and Scholar Services' site here.
Optional practical training (OPT) is defined in the regulations as "temporary employment for practical training directly related to the student's major area of study." (Participation is generally done after graduation, but applied for up to 90 days before graduation). Students interested in pursuing OPT should first speak to International Student Services. More information is available here. International Students interested in pursing Post-Graduate Employment Options should review International Student and Scholar Services' Ppresentation on post graduation employment.
Our office can assist you with your job search, including preparing resumes that are formatted in US standards, provide you with materials on various aspects of looking for positions. Please take a few minutes to review our Career Resource Center before you begin your job search.
Taxes - Information on United States Federal Income Tax from International Student and Scholar Services
Social Security Numbers - Information for International Students on Social Sercurity Numbers and how they effect them from International Students and Scholarship Services
American Chamers of Commerce Abroad - Shows American companies and individuals doing business in a particular country
H-1B Visa Jobs and Sponsorship Portal - Provides advice about applying of H-1B visas
International Job Search Resources - Our page of resources for International Students on their job searches
Many international students want to work in the United States after they graduate. According to United States immigration law, international students with F-1 visas are eligible to work full-time for one year after they graduate as part of their "practical training". Practical training is considered an opportunity for students to gain experience before returning to their home countries and is intended to be temporary. If a student does secure a temporary position on practical training, it is possible to continue working for the employer after one year but the employer is required to sponsor the student.Many international students have difficulty securing postgraduate employment. The reasons include:
After international students complete practical training, employers must sponsor them to obtain an H1-B visa, which allows them to work in the United States for one to six additional years. Sponsorship involves:
- Petitioning the government for an H1-B visa
- Obtaining approval from the U.S. Department of Labor
- Hiring a lawyer
- Absorbing some fees
Many employers find it much easier and more cost effective to simply hire an American citizen or permanent resident because there are no time constraints or fees to worry about and because they may not be familiar with this process. In addition, there are many employers who are required by law to hire only U.S. citizens because security clearances are required for their jobs. Security clearances cannot be obtained for foreign nationals.
For these reasons, many employers will not even interview let alone hire an international student. They do not want to waste their time or students' time on a process that will not lead to a fruitful conclusion.
Perceived Lack of Commitment to the Job
Some employers are reluctant to hire international students because they fear international students will eventually want to return to their home countries. And, since practical training is only authorized for one year, employers do not want to invest time and money in training international students only to have them leave in a year's time.
Strong communication skills are critical for prospective employees to be successful. Employers are often concerned with international students' ability to communicate effectively with their clients or co-workers in both a verbal and written environment.
Some Americans, and probably some employers, feel that hiring an international student is taking a job away from an American. This can be particularly noticeable during times of economic recession when many Americans may be unemployed.
When the U.S. economy is doing poorly, the competition for fewer jobs increases. In addition to competing with other new graduates, international students will now be competing against laid off workers who have experience and who will not need sponsorship. In addition, companies will be looking to cut expenses and may not want to spend the additional time and money that is needed to hire an international student.
Overcoming These Obstacles
These negative employer perceptions certainly add obstacles to the success of a U.S. job search for international students. However, there are some steps that can be taken to overcome them.
Convince the employer that being on a temporary practical training visa is an advantage - they can try the student out for one year and if it does not work out, they are under no obligation to keep them.
Learn as much as possible about the H-1B visa process to be ready to answer questions by employers who may not be familiar with it. If they see it is an easy and relatively inexpensive process, they may be more likely to hire an international student.
Target your job search to employers who do not need U.S. Citizens for security clearances and to companies that conduct business globally. These employers will more open to hiring international students. Also, consider how your major fits in with these types of employers and consider a major change or perhaps graduate school to make yourself more marketable to these employers.
Package characteristics that might be seen as disadvantages, such as cultural differences or language skills, as advantages for employers who want to be more competitive in the global marketplace.
Realize that the job search for an international student is going to take much more time and effort. Start early to begin making contacts and networking with individuals such as faculty and international alumni who can provide assistance. Don't create other obstacles such as insisting on living in a particular region - these kinds of requirements will only limit job options even further.