Hiring an International Student on OPT
In this tightly-knit, interconnected world, institutions and companies all over want to pool the world’s talent in order to enhance productivity and bring creative results. For the same reason, the USA offers opportunities for better growth through its popular option of OPT(Optional Practical Training) to bridge the gap between aspiring students and platforms. For businesses to find employees and students to get the support of employment from the economic angle and gain practical experience. This blog will enumerate the basic tenets of OPT and how one, as an employer as well as a student, can benefit from it.
Let’s familiarise ourselves with the basics of OPT. What and How?
OPT (Optional Practical Training) facilitates the opportunity for students with F-1 to work in the U.S. for up to 12 months and a longer duration of up to 24 months (as an extension) for those majoring in STEM areas. These include science, technology, engineering, and mathematics fields. The main objective is to allow students to gain practical work experience and become habitual to the work culture. Before we dive into the process of hiring international students of OPT, let us also take a glance at the eligibility for the OPT program.
The basic prerequisite to begin with;
- The most basic is first to ensure that the student is eligible for OPT. Make sure you verify through the USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services) certification for an OPT in the form of an Employment Authorization Document (EAD).
- Every employer in the United States is required to accurately fill out Form I-9 for each person they hire to work in the country, regardless of their citizenship status, which grants them the legal right to work in the United States. (Form I-9)
- The Applicant (in this case, the student) must have completed full-time enrollment with the F-1 visa for at least nine months and graduated from their U.S. academic program. Thus, nine months of full-time enrollment with the F-1 visa is the minimum requirement for OPT eligibility.
- It must be ensured that the job profile is directly based on the student’s major field of study.
- Along the same line the work should also provide practical training and experience at a level commensurate with a bachelor’s degree.
- As an employer, you may be required to maintain additional records apart from Form I-9. These include detailed payroll records and performance evaluations.
- Do not forget to comply with immigration regulations in case other exists.
What are your responsibilities as an employer?
As we mentioned in brief, employers should regularly evaluate the student’s work and ensure that they work at least 20 hours per week (min). If employment circumstances change, it should be readily reflected on the USCIS’s side.
Things to note post-completion of the hiring spree.
- As an employer, you will need to conduct regular evaluations of your work and ensure the minimum working hours.
- In case there are any changes in address, employer, or situation of unemployment, the same must be updated to USCIS using their online system within 10 days.
- Make sure the employment duration is aligned with the visa validation. For students whose Visas Are Expiring, you will be asked to end your employment and move out. In this scenario, the Applicant can switch the Visa status to H-1B or apply for an extension of the F-1 Visa. If you need any help regarding the application of an H-1B visa or with respect to using an extension, you may contact any visa agent in Delhi.
- You’ll need to keep records of the student’s employment, such as I-9s, payroll, and performance reviews, in case USCIS requests them for verification.
- Another benefit of OPT is that it allows the student to work multiple jobs. However, all information must be correct and timely updated with the USCIS department.
What will be the benefit of OPT for an employer?
Employers should familiarize themselves with OPT rules to hire compliantly and provide valuable training. They should also embrace the diverse skills and viewpoints that international talent offers. When employers involve OPT students meaningfully and abide by regulations, it enriches their workplace. Businesses gain from the global perspectives of an internationally educated workforce. Overall, OPT is a win-win for companies seeking top talent and students gaining career-starting experience in today’s global economy.
As discussed in this blog, we hope would have gained some understanding of the provisions of OPT. It is an effective way of bringing together potential employees from international students who have completed their studies in the United States. While employers get their share of diverse, creative and fresh ideas, students get exposure to the job market in the States. For this, if you need any extra help, try contacting any Visa Consultant in Delhi.
So, don’t wait. It is time to boost your entrepreneurial journey by hiring International students through OPT and making their skills valuable assets to the enterprise.
Frequently asked questions
Q: Who needs to complete Form I-9, and what information do they provide?
A: Both the employee and the employer must complete Form I-9. The employee must attest to their employment authorization status and present documents like a passport or driver’s license to prove their identity and eligibility to work. The employer examines these documents, determines if they seem genuine, and records the document information on the employee’s Form I-9. So, in summary, both the individual being hired and a representative of the hiring company need to contribute information to complete Form I-9 fully.
Q: What is the common eligibility requirement between H-1B and OPT?
A: Both H-1B visas and OPT require applicants to have completed a qualifying degree from a U.S. academic institution to be eligible. This ensures both programs provide work experience opportunities for international students educated in the United States