Navigating Work Sponsorship in the US

Deliverables:

· Different types of student visas · How to find an internship or job while studying abroad · What pages/resources can use to determine which companies to sponsor

What are the types of student visas available?

As an international student coming to the United States to work, there are different visas that a student may apply for: F1 Visa, M1 Visa, J1 Visa, or H1-B Visa. It is important for students to be familiar with types of visas and how they impact work eligibility.

F1 Visa: The F-1 Visa allows students to enter the United States as a full-time student at an accredited college, university, seminary, conservatory, academic high school, elementary school, or other academic institution or in a language training program. You must be enrolled in a program or course of study that culminates in a degree, diploma, or certificate and your school must be authorized by the U.S. government to accept international students.

M1 Visa: M-1 international students in non-academic or vocational studies program may only accept employment if it is part of a practical training program and may only engage in such training after completion of their course of study.

J-1 Visa: The Exchange Visitor (J) non-immigrant visa category is for individuals approved to participate in work-and study-based exchange visitor programs.

H-1B- Person in Specialty Occupation: This visa category applies to people who wish to perform services in a specialty occupation, services of exceptional merit and ability relating to a Department of Defense (DOD) cooperative research and development project, or services as a fashion model of distinguished merit or ability.

What types of employment are available for students?

If you have the right combination of skills, education, and/or work experience, you may be able to live and work permanently in the United States by seeking an employment-based immigrant visa. Below are the types of employment that are available for international students.

F-1 students may not work off-campus during the first academic year but may accept on-campus employment subject to certain conditions and restrictions. After the first academic year, F-1 students may engage in three types of off-campus employment: Optional Practical Training (OPT), Curricular Practical Training (CPT), Academic Training (AT), and H1-B Work Eligibility.

M-1 students may engage in practical training only after they have completed their studies.

For both F-1 and M-1 students, any off-campus training employment must be related to their area of study and must be authorized before starting any work by the Designated School Official who is authorized to maintain the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) and USCIS. Students can find this person by meeting with their university’s Career Center or International Services Department.

Optional Practical Training (OPT): All OPT must be directly related to your major area of study. If you are an F-1 student, you may be eligible to participate in OPT in two different ways:

  • Pre-completion OPT: You may apply to participate in pre-completion OPT after you have been lawfully enrolled on a full-time basis for one full academic year at a college or university that has been certified by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) to enroll F-1 students. You do not need to have had F-1 status for one full academic year; you can satisfy the “one full academic year” requirement even if you had another nonimmigrant status during that time.

    • If you are authorized to participate in pre-completion OPT, you may work part-time (20 hours or less per week) while school is in session. You may work full time when school is not in session.

  • Post-completion OPT: You may apply to participate in post-completion OPT after completing your studies. If you are authorized for post-completion OPT, you may work part-time (20 hours or less per week) or full time.

    • If you participated in pre-completion OPT, USCIS will deduct that amount of time from your post-completion OPT authorization period. For example, if you participated in 10 months of pre-completion OPT, you would be eligible for only up to 2 months of post-completion OPT. T

To apply for OPT, please contact your designated school official for more information.

Curriculum Practical Training (CPT): CPT is an alternative work/study, internship, cooperative education, or another type of required internship or practicum that a sponsoring employer offers through agreements with a student’s school.For more information on the rules and regulations applicable to CPT, visit the Practical Training page on ICE.gov and contact your school to file applicable paperwork.

Academic Training (AT): Academic Training (AT) is an off-campus authorization that allows J-1 students to work in jobs and internships that are directly related to their degree programs. AT can be used during or after the J-1 program and is employer and date specific. The application is approved through OIA (not a government agency) and takes about one week for approval. If you are an undergraduate or graduate exchange student on a J1 visa, you are eligible to receive practice training in the United States through Academic Training.

H1-B Work Eligibility: To gain work release under an H1-B visa, students must have a pre-existing employer/employee relationship and must qualify for specialty qualification. To see the requirements for a specialty occupation, visit the USCIS website.

Where can I find a job or internship while studying abroad in the US?

CodePath.org: CodePath.org is a nonprofit organization committed to increasing diversity in the tech industry. CodePath hosts monthly industry events and offers a one-on-one mentoring program to help international students connect with seasoned professionals that can help them navigate their career in tech.

College Offices: Universities have designated centers that help guide students through some of the earliest college and career decisions. Many universities have international offices that specifically support international students navigating the visa process.

LinkedIn: LinkedIn is a valuable tool that human resource professionals use to recruit the next generation of top tech talent. Students can use LinkedIn to engage with HR recruiters. Once connected, a student can ask for informational interviews that allow students to learn more about international visa opportunities.

Professors: Many college professors have connections to professionals in the tech industry that can advance student’s career goals. Students are encouraged to make their career goals known so that professors can support them.

Visa Aggregators: There are a handful of websites that aggregate lists of companies that sponsor international workers. myvisajobs.com and immihelp.com/h1b-visa-sponsors/ are two examples.

How can I find out if a company sponsors H1-B visas?

H-1B Employer Data Hub: The data hub provides an additional layer of transparency to the H-1B program by providing information on employers petitioning for H-1B workers. The hub allows the public to search for H-1B petitioners by fiscal year, NAICS code, employer name, city, state, or ZIP code. Students can learn more about the data hub at USCIS h-1b-data-hub

Company Websites: Companies that sponsor visas typically disclose specific information on their website or in job descriptions. If the information is unavailable, students can reach out to the company’s Human Resource Manager to learn more.

College Networks: Your college or university offers a valuable resource to students to learn more about H1-B visa companies. You can visit your career center or international student resource center to learn more.

Students can find out more information about the visa process and employment opportunities at https://www.uscis.gov/