For Employers: Hiring International Students
Cornell University enrolls more than 6,000 international students who hold temporary, nonimmigrant visa status in the United States. Thanks to their Cornell education, their language skills, and their multicultural backgrounds, these students are assets to any U.S. employer.
We hope the information on this page helps to clarify the employment eligibility of international students and encourages you as a prospective employer to consider Cornell’s talented international graduates in your human resource development plan.
Advantages of Hiring International Students
- Cornell international students are highly skilled, multilingual, and have diverse, global backgrounds.
- Minimal paperwork is required to hire international students.
- Employment authorization is possible for up to seven years, even without applying for permanent residency (green card).
- Employment eligibility is easily verifiable.
Practical training is meant to give students real-world experience in their major field of study. Most international students studying in the United States hold F-1 or J-1 student visa status. These students may apply for work authorization during their studies and after graduation through several programs, including F-1 CPT, F-1 OPT, and J-1 AT.
All paperwork is handled by the student and Cornell University's Office of Global Learning or the student’s program sponsor. In some cases, a job offer letter is required.
- F-1 students may work full-time during the summers doing Curricular Practical Training (CPT) before they graduate.
- F-1 students are allowed up to 12 months of Optional Practical Training (OPT) after graduation.
- F-1 students in science, technology, engineering, and math fields are allowed up to 24 months of STEM OPT.
- J-1 students may work for up to 18 months in their field of study (longer for postdoctoral research).
Verifying Employment Eligibility: The I-9
All employees, including international students, must complete an I-9 employment eligibility verification form. The I-9 form is available on the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services website.
The I-9 requires the employer to verify the identity and work authorization of every person hired. Most employers use E-Verify to confirm their employees’ eligibility to work in the United States.
Long-Term Employment: Changing to a Different Visa Status
After practical training, most students may continue to work if the employer sponsors their application for another visa type—usually H-1B or TN for Canadians and Mexicans.
Many international students seeking opportunities for post-graduate employment in the United States fully intend to return to their home countries after spending a few years establishing themselves professionally.
H-1B and TN visas are satisfactory alternatives to petitioning for permanent residency and involve much less time, expense, and paperwork than sponsoring an employee for a green card.