You should be absolutely honest with prospective employers. The best answer to give is one such as the following: “I am currently on an F-1 visa and have X (state the number of months you have remaining) months of Optional Practical Training available which can be used after I graduate. With H-1B visa sponsorship, I would be able to contribute to your firm for up to six additional years.
This employer has requested that we include this statement at the bottom of their posting. As an international student who is in F-1 (or J-1) status, you cannot work for the company after optional practical training without further work authorization. Because you cannot obtain employment-based work authorization on your own, this company will need to petition for your H-1B visa so you may work with them longer. There are paperwork and legal fees associated with sponsorship, and this particular company is unwilling to take those steps.
Although you are eligible to do practical training, this employer is looking for permanent hires. Employers invest a lot of resources in their new hires. They want to retain them for longer than one year, or even the seven years OPT and H-1B can offer. Some companies want to hire only candidates who could eventually make partner or VP, and staff who can only stay seven years are unlikely to serve in that role. Additionally, the company may realize that to keep you on longer than for OPT and H-1B, they will need to sponsor your permanent residency. This process is lengthy, difficult and expensive, with no assurance of success.
Actually it is not very expensive (usually about $3,500 -$6,000 in legal and filing fees) for the company to sponsor you for an H-1B visa, but there is some paperwork and filing requirements in addition to the fees. Given the choice, employers would prefer to hire someone with the same skills without having to take the additional steps needed to hire international candidates. Additionally, there is no guarantee that after investing in your petition your H-1B petition will be successful. The company may be unwilling to take that risk.
Most School of Management students who find work with a U.S. employer after Optional Practical Training (OPT) will switch to H-1B visa status. The H-1B visa category is a temporary worker category for employees in specialty occupations. (Most jobs that students take upon graduation are considered to be in “specialty occupations.”) H-1B work authorization is employer-specific in that it allows the employee to work only for the employer who sponsored him or her for the H-1B. The maximum stay in H-1B status is six years (applied for three years at a time).
You generally don’t know unless the company puts a notice to the contrary in their ad or job posting. Companies with a number of openings in functional areas where there is a shortage of qualified candidates are much more likely to sponsor international students than companies with openings in areas where domestic candidates are in greater supply.
To offer you the most opportunities the Career Resource Center staff doesn’t ask employers whether they will sponsor international students. We assume they will unless they tell us otherwise. If you see a statement at the bottom of our posting stating “Candidates must be eligible to work in the U.S. for other than practical training,” it is because the employer has requested that we include that statement.
You should move ahead with your job search by taking the same steps as our domestic students (exploring career options; assessing your strengths, weaknesses and interests; networking; gaining valuable experience through internships/practice; developing a strong résumé and excellent interviewing skills; researching companies and industries; targeting specific companies; following up on applications, etc.) with the understanding that you have an additional hurdle (company sponsorship) that our domestic students don’t have. That means that you need to be very thorough; you may have to look at twice as many jobs and it may take you twice as long. You will need to stand out in the crowd so that an employer will be willing to undertake the extra paperwork and expense to hire you over all the others.
Additionally, there are International Career Tools available to identify if the organization has petitioned for H1B visa’s in the past. If they have previously petitioned, this could indicate that they will be more likely to petition in the future.
Because this employer is using this internship as a recruiting tool for permanent hires, they are unwilling to consider candidates who are not eligible to work on a permanent basis. Even though you are eligible to work in the U.S. for 12 months of practical training, employers are not obligated to open their internship opportunities to international students.
Occasionally a company with a policy of restricting candidates to those eligible to work in the U.S. for other than practical training will hire an international student. Usually that student has found his/her way to that position through a unique route. For example, the student may have completed an internship at the firm, been involved in a research or consulting project with a faculty member for the company, or made inroads to a hiring manager via strategic networking efforts. The project offered the employer the opportunity to get to know the candidate. When a student offers a unique set of skills or experience, employers at times make exceptions.
You may wish to consider including this information on your résumé because many firms are unwilling to sponsor international students for work authorization (H-1B or green card). You can include a statement, perhaps at the bottom where “references provided upon request” is often placed. Include a statement such as “Permanent Resident of the U.S.” or “Permanent Resident – Eligible to Work in the U.S.” Any student who has an international-sounding name (or résumé with international education and work experience), but who is eligible to work in the U.S. on a permanent basis should consider including this type of statement. You can include “Citizen of the United States” or “Permanent Resident” (whichever is appropriate) if you are concerned that the employer may wonder whether you are eligible to work in the U.S. for other than practical training.
For any off-campus work or internship, you must receive special employment authorization. Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is the appropriate authorization for credit-bearing internships. To qualify for CPT, you must meet the conditions in the International Student and Scholar Services CPT handout. Also, review your curriculum first to determine if you are eligible to do an internship as not all of the specific programs within the school involve an internship. If you want to work off-campus for pay and not for credit, then you must apply for Optional Practical Training (OPT). This option is for students close to or after graduation. There is an application fee and the processing time is four to twelve weeks. It can take up to 16 weeks but one can apply for a temporary EAD card if the INS takes longer than 90 days. The benefits of using CPT rather than OPT are that the processing time is much faster and there is no cost to process the paperwork. In addition, you do not use up any of your 12-months of OPT. NOTE: Full-time students can work on campus for up to 20 hours per week while school is in session (or 40 hours per week during school breaks and vacations) for pay or for credit without any special authorization from International Student and Scholar Services or the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS, formerly INS). Remember, talk to an advisor in the Internships and Experiential Learning Office to be sure you are following the guidelines appropriately.
If you are on an F-1 visa and you are studying in one of the School of Management MS programs that does not have an internship or practicum as part of your curriculum, you will not be able to intern because your CPT will not be approved by the International Student & Scholar Services (ISSS). For ISSS to approve CPT, the off campus project/work must be considered an “integral part of your curriculum.” There is no internship or practicum built into the curriculum so the school cannot approve the credit and ISSS cannot not approve the CPT. The alternative is to use OPT. However, launching OPT can take one to three months, so you would need to have the flexibility with your off campus project supervisor for this option to work for you.