Short Term Employment

For students with F-1 visas, there are two types of work authorizations: Curricular Practical Training (CPT) and Optional Practical Training (OPT). There is also the STEM Extension Optional Practical Training (STEM OPT). The OPT and CPT can be paid or unpaid opportunities while the STEM OPT must be paid. All three require that the employment must be related to the student’s field of study.

It is important to note that there are no monetary costs on the employer’s end for any of these authorizations. For further information, contact the recruiting team at the Career Center, or visit the USCIS employer information website.

 Information about the Authorization
Duration of and Hours during Employment
Your Role as an Employer
CPTCPT is typically used for internships and short-term jobs while a student is still enrolled at their undergraduate institution..Authorization is given on a term basis. Students are generally limited to a max of 20 hours per week during the term, but can work full-time during the summer.
  • Provide the student an offer of employment
  • Request a copy of the CPT I-20 from the student for I-9 purposes

OPT
OPT is for F-1 students who have graduated from their undergraduate institution..Usually, grants 12 months of employment and most often used for full-time positions immediately following graduation.
  • Provide the student an offer of employment
  • Request a copy of the EAD from student for I-9 purposes

STEM OPT
STEM OPT is for students with a STEM designated degree working for a an E-Verify* employer. The position cannot be volunteer, or unpaid, and self-employment is not allowed.Grants a 24-month extension on top of the original 12-month period for OPT. Throughout students' lifetime, they are able to receive two extensions. The second can be obtained after earning a higher level STEM degree and obtaining another 12-month OPT.
  • Provide an offer of employment
  • Organization must be participating in E-Verify* and provide student with E-Verify and EIN number
  • Complete I-983 Training Plan and attest that wages and compensation are commensurate with “similarly situated U.S. workers”
  • Read additional reporting requirements on DHS website.

*The E-verify enrollment process is simple and only takes 12 steps. Note: this is for STEM OPT only.

Long Term Employment (beyond the first year for OPT – or 3 years for STEM)

For longer-term employment, International F-1 visa holders will usually need an H-1B visa. There are a limited number of H-1B visas granted every year, but there are special exceptions to the quota for non-profit, educational and research institutions. It grants up to 3 years of employment, but can be extended/renewed up to a total of 6 years.

Your role as an employer includes working with a qualified immigration attorney to prepare and file the petition in a timely manner. Please see the US Citizen & Immigration Services (USCIS) page to find out information about the appropriate application timeline for your type of organization. There are monetary costs associated with this type of visa on the employer’s side including attorney and USCIS application fees.

There are other employment-based Visa categories such as H-2A for Temporary Agricultural Workers, and the P-2/3 for artists or entertainers. You can find more information about these categories on the USCIS page for temporary employment.


The information provided on this page was adapted from UC Berkeley’s resource for international students.