Things to Know on Hiring OPT CPT Students in the US

How to hire opt students, Hiring international students, Hiring OPT, Hiring opt Students, Hiring opt candidates

Every year, a fresh batch of graduates emerge from U.S. colleges and universities looking for work. If your organization or business is hiring, you may receive resumes from graduates who are international students in the US. They might not have a green card or other long term rights to stay here but give their resumes a look: They might have an allowance to work in the US for several months or years. These students might have a permit to work. And if you like their work, you may eventually decide to sponsor them for a non-immigrant visa and later a green card.

The initial stage of the hiring process does not require the help of a lawyer. All kinds of international students – F-1, M-1, and J-1s have the opportunity to legally work in a Full-time job upon graduation. With good planning, they can easily acquire full-time work authorization to begin as early as the day after graduation.

Hiring F-1 OPT CPT Candidates

The moment an F-1 student completes a degree program, they are eligible to apply for 12 months of work authorization called Optional Practical Training (OPT).  The object here is to gain practical experience in the student’s major area of study. The position for which you hire the student must be connected to the student’s major area of study. Basically, the responsibility of proving that the job is within the students major lies with the student, not the employer. However, for the betterment, it’s important to be aware of the rules that go along with the students work benefit.

Employers Should Know About Hiring International Students

Many employers are concerned about the liability which comes along with the employment of international students in the United States. Due to the changes in Federal laws governing non-citizens, specifically the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (IRCA) and the Immigration act of 1990 (IMMACT90). This blog addresses the concerns which employers might have about International students and their work.

Getting permission for international students to work in the US is not as tough as many employers think. Majority of the International students are in the US on non-immigrant student visas I.e. F-1 and J-1, and these international students are eligible to accept employment under certain criteria’s.  International students have been coming to the US since a long time and employing everyone is certainly not possible though they are at least eligible to apply for permission to work under the visa category of “Practical Training”.



What is Practical Training?

Practical training is a legal medium by which the F-1 students can obtain employment in areas and fields related to their academic study. Practical training enables international students to initiate paid work in the US while they complete their academics as well as immediately following their graduation. Students must have completed one year or at least nine months in F-1 status and must sustain their F-1 status to be eligible for practical training. Practical training is further divided into two categories which are as follows:

  • Optional Practical Training
  • Curricular Practical Training

Optional Practical Training (OPT):

To work under this criteria, a student needs to be authorized by U.S Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) based on a recommendation from the Designated School Office at the school which issued the form which verifies the student’s admission to that institution. Here the term Optional means that the students can choose to use all or part of their total practical training allowance of a maximum of 12 months. Students on OPT can further extend their OPT authorization as STEM OPT Extension for 24 months. Furthermore, are the criteria’s under which a student can use the OPT:

  • During vacation when school is not commencing, Full-time employment is allowed.
  • For part-time work, a maximum of 20 hours per week, while the school is in session.
  • After the completion of the degree course.
  • Full time after the completion of the degree.

Students who have acquired their Employment Authorization Document (EAD) by the USCIS. Their details including name, photo and valid dates of employment are printed on the EAD. Employers should keep in mind the average processing time USCIS to issue the EAD is two or three months maximum, and students shall only begin their employment after they receive the EAD which will indicate the starting and ending dates of employment.

Curricular Practical Training (CPT):

Curricular Practical Training can only start if authorized by the Institution (Not by USCIS) for F-1 students can take part in curricular-related employment programs such as cooperative education, work study, and internship programs. Authorization is written on the back of the I-20 student copy and will include the name of the company and other essential details signed by the designated school official (DSO). The processing time for the authorization of CPT students varies at each institution. Employers need to check with the SF state office of the international programs for accurate turn-around time. All the international students studying in the USA on F-1 visas are more legible for both Curricular practical training and 12 months of OPT before finishing their studies.

[Read More: Benefits Of Acquiring CPT Internship Opportunities]

Academic Training for J-1 students

All the exchange students enter the U.S. on a J-1 visa. Practical training is known as “Academic training” for J-1 visa students. Every student having the J-1 visa is eligible up to 18months of academic training, only the post-doctoral students are permitted three years. Students who are part of the J-1 program are also allowed to work part-time during the academic program.

Minimal paperwork for the Employer

There is a little amount of paperwork for an employer who hires F-1 or J-1 students. Fortunately, all paperwork is handled by the students and the school where they are currently studying. For CPT, the school has to document the students’ copy of the I-20 indicating that CPT has been authorized, also specifying details of employment. On the other hand, students approved for OPT are required to apply to USCIS for an Employment Authorization Document.

Everyone Benefits

All international students studying in the US can offer a wide range of skills and abilities. Their studies and their multi-lingual abilities make them a special asset to U.S. employers. International students have the initiative, flexibility, and experience to adapt and overcome new situations. These are important things to keep in mind while hiring OPT  students and CPT candidates.


Unless someone is immune to taxation, F-1 student’s earnings are subject to applicable, federal, state and local income taxes. Facts on tax treaties may be found in INTERNAL REVENUE SERVICES PUBLICATION. Normally, students of F-1 and J-1  are freed from social security and Medicare tax requirements.

Other important notes for hiring OPT Students

  • The federal management permits the employment of international students on F-1 and J-1 visas within certain limits. These visas permit students to work in jobs associated with their major field of study. F-1 students can work on Practical training and Academic training.
  • The only Expenditure to the employer hiring international students on F-1 and J-1 visas is the time and effort to interview and select the best candidate for the job. Even the paperwork involving the authorization of F-1 and J-1 students is handled by the international student office.
  • F-1 candidates are more ligible for CPT before accomplishing their studies, above that, they can acquire twelve months of OPT, either before or following graduation. If they work under CPT for one year or additional, they will not be eligible for OPT. Only the students with a j-1 visa are allowed to work up to 18 months following graduation.
  • International students should have work authorization before they start the real employment process. But not before they are offered employment. In some cases like J-1 students, it’s essential to have a written job offer in order to apply for the work authorization.
  • F-1 OPT students receive an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) from USCIS which indicates the dates they are eligible to work. And for the CPT, the F-1 students receive authorization from the school and not from the USCIS.