Work Authorization for International Students-What You Need to Know
This blog post was written by Peer Career Ambassador, Tommy J. Wang ’19.
At Babson, we value the importance of a student population that reflects global diversity. For the incoming class of 2021, 28% of the students are international, representing 43 countries around the world. Some of the international students are looking forward to getting internships or full-time job positions after graduation. To help them recognizing and pursuing career opportunities they are passionate about, CCD launched Handshake, a platform provides thousands of job positions for students with different interests and class levels. On Handshake, the platform assists students to search for matching career opportunities filtered by employer preferences, including majors, GPA, school year, and work authorization.
As an international student, when doing job searches on Handshake, it is common for me to find an awesome position that matches every employer preference except work authorization. There is even a red line below that section saying “Employers are less likely to interview you if your work authorization does not match their preferences.” These words usually will discourage international students from continue applying their dream jobs. However, work authorization does not necessarily mean you cannot apply. This blog will explain what exactly is the work authorization process in the United States.
For international students on F-1 visa status,
For international students on F-1 visa status, there are two options to gain work authorization to work or intern off-campus. Students should always work with the Glavin Office to receive authorization prior to the start of an internship or job.
CPT (Curricular Practical Training)
CPT allows international students to work off-campus with a company or an organization related to their studies. For full-time students enrolled at Babson College, CPT authorizes F-1 international students to work no more than 20 hours per week during school time, and full-time during the summer before graduation. Since CPT is included as part of the F-1 visa program, the companies do not need to file to the US government for sponsorship. More information is available on the Glavin Office website.
OPT (Optional Practical Training)
Similar to CPT, OPT is also part of the F-1 visa program that authorizes international students to work for a company or an organization related to their field of study. OPT provides an opportunity for them to obtain actual work experience in the US after graduation. The maximum time for a Babson undergraduate student to work on OPT after graduation is 12 months. More information on OPT is available on the Glavin Office website.
What should I do when applying for an internship in the US?
For international students looking for an internship in the US, the warning sentence in red on Handshake does not mean that you are not qualified to apply. Since CPT is part of the F-1 visa program that allows foreign students work full-time in the summer, you actually are eligible for work authorization. Therefore, in handshake, make sure to check the box for“OPT/CPT eligible”.
What should I do when applying for a full-time job in the US after graduation?
If you are looking for a permanent position after graduation, it becomes a little bit tricky. Even though OPT grants you 12-month work authorization after graduation, it does not guarantee a work visa after that time expires. After the OPT period, you will need your company to file to the US immigration authorities for a work visa. Unfortunately, there are a number of companies that do not offer work visa sponsorship. Therefore, when a company asks you “do you need visa sponsorship in the future?” make sure to check YES.
Certainly, indicating you need future visa sponsorship may put you in an unfavorable position when competing with other domestic applicants. But the one-page-resume does not tell the company entirely who you are. It would be a good idea to meet company representative and alumni during Career Expos and other networking events on Babson Campus. Meet face-to-face will help you build a strong and positive relationship with the company you would like to work for and potentially lead to a future job offer despite the fact that you are an international student.
The Undergraduate Center for Career Development (CCD) also offers tremendous resources for international students on job searching strategies. You can easily get tips on Career Beam and Handshake, which are located in the Babson Student Portal. You can meet 1:1 with an adviser for personalized guidance; and there is an adviser available who is specifically designated to helping international students understand the U.S. job search process.
If you are an international student beginning the internship or job search, here are two upcoming events sponsored by the Glavin Office and CCD to add to your calendar. Click the links below or visit Handshake for more details.
Nov 28: International Alumni Panel
I hope these tips were helpful. If you have any questions regarding work authorization, please email the Glavin Office at firstname.lastname@example.org. Drop-in hours at CCD are also a great way to start your job search strategy!