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Understanding Hiring OPT Students: Employer Responsibilities and Implications

By February 20, 2024 Information

Employers seeking to hire OPT students must understand their responsibilities and the immigration implications involved. Here’s what you need to know about hiring international students under the OPT program:

Overview of the OPT Program:

  • OPT allows international students in the U.S. to gain practical training related to their field of study.
  • Students must hold either F1 or J1 visas, with the majority being F1 visa holders.
  • A Social Security Number alone is not sufficient for work authorization; students must complete the I-1 procedure.

Internship Hiring for F1 Students:

  • Curricular Practical Training (CPT) allows students to participate in internships after one year of full-time study.
  • Internships can be full-time or part-time, and students must maintain full-time student status except during official vacation periods.

Full-Time Work for F1 Students:

  • Optional Practical Training (OPT) allows students to gain experience in their field after completing one year of study or attaining a degree.
  • Employers have no role in the OPT application process; students are solely responsible.
  • STEM graduates may qualify for a two-year OPT extension.

Employer Responsibilities:

  • Employers must be enrolled in E-Verify and provide a formal training program supporting the student’s academic pursuits.
  • A termination report must be provided to the international student services office within five working days.
  • The company must ensure that OPT students receive opportunities similar to U.S. citizens and have the necessary resources for training.

Student Responsibilities:

  • Students must submit the completed I-983 training plan and OPT application to the appropriate offices.
  • USCIS issues an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) card for work authorization.

Cost and Processing Time:

  • There is no cost to employers for hiring OPT students.
  • USCIS processing time for OPT applications varies but typically ranges from 60 to 120 days.
  • STEM OPT extensions must be filed before the initial OPT period ends.

Additional Information:

  • J-1 status is available for students seeking work authorization, with different durations depending on the program.
  • TN1 status is available for Canadian or Mexican citizens, valid for three years with the possibility of extension.


  • Hiring OPT students offers numerous benefits to employers, including fresh perspectives and diverse talent.
  • Career portals like OPTresumes can help connect employers with qualified candidates.
  • OPT and CPT programs provide valuable opportunities for students and employers alike, facilitating cultural exchange and professional development.

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