Hiring International Students
International Students as Employees
Nationwide, more than 600,000 international students are studying in the US at any given time. WPI currently has about 700 international students who have many assets to offer the employer, including their multicultural and/or multilingual skills, their ability to adapt to a challenging situation, and their global knowledge and awareness in addition to their advanced WPI education.
Hiring for a Summer Internship or Co-op position
International students on an F-1 visa are eligible for 12 months of Curricular Practical Training (CPT). Curricular Practical Training is defined as work experience directly related to the student's field of study. Curricular Practical Training is the employment authorization used for F-1 students on summer co-op, co-op or graduate students on internship. Students apply for CPT work authorization from the International House at WPI. In most cases, the employer will only have to provide their standard employment related paperwork. For co-op placement, the WPI CDC will sometimes ask for additional information about the specific position.
International Students on an F-1 visa are eligible for 12 months of Optional Practical Training (OPT) for each degree level (B.S., M.S., and Ph.D.). Optional practical training is defined as work experience related to the student’s field of study. In addition, students in STEM discipline are eligible for a one-time OPT extension of 17 months. These disciplines include:
- Actuarial Science
- Computer Science (except Data Entry and Microcomputer Applications)
- Engineering Technologies
- Biological and Biomedical Sciences
- Mathematics and Statistics
- Military Technologies
- Physical Sciences
- Science Technologies
- Medical Scientist (MS, PhD)
WPI students on an F-1 visa that are studying in the STEM areas are therefore eligible for 29 months of Optional Practical Training. For students to use this extension an employer must be E-Verify. E-Verify is a U.S. government database that employers can use to verify the employment eligibility of prospective hires.
Temporary Work H-1B Visa
Many students who begin working on for a company on OPT often transition to an H-1B work visa to continue their employment in the United States. The H-1B status is intended for temporary workers who have at the minimum a Bachelor’s degree, and can be used for up to six years. The number of H-1B visas available each Federal Fiscal year (10/01 to 09/30) is determined by an annual quota. Currently this quote is 65,000 plus a separate quota for individuals who have earned a Master’s or PhD degree in the US. Educational institutions and certain non-for-profit organizations are exempt from this quota.
Employers file H-1B visa paperwork with United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. It is important to note that there is no requirement that a US citizen be recruited or preferred. If an employer is unfamiliar with the process, it is recommended that he/she seeks legal advice from an immigration attorney who is a member of AILA (American Immigration Lawyers Association).
The "Green Card" Process
An employer might consider sponsoring a non-immigrant employee, typically working on an H-1B visa for Permanent Residency Status also known as a "Green Card." Please refer to the legal counsel of your company for more information. It is advisable to make sure the attorney is a member of AILA.