Employing International Students

In the College of Engineering, approximately 10% of undergraduate students and about 60% of graduate students are foreign born. These students represent numerous countries around the world and bring tremendous talent and diversity to the ISU campus and to the workplaces of many employers. About 35% of international students complete a co-op or internship while studying engineering at ISU and many others wish they had the opportunity to experience professional employment in the U.S.

When hiring an international student, employers experience no additional cost or paperwork and the process is the same as making any other college student hire. It is the student’s responsibility to complete the required paperwork and follow all related employment regulations. This information was prepared to help employers understand the benefits of and process for employing international students.

Benefits of Employing International Students

In addition to all of the common benefits of employing an ISU engineering student or alumnus, international students offer some unique benefits.

  • They add an additional layer of diversity of thought to discussions and team projects.
  • Their presence enriches the workplace as they share their experiences and stories from a different culture. This also helps to break down stereotypes.
  • They can provide a global perspective and understanding of unfamiliar business cultures to facilitate growth in markets.
  • They can use language skills to overcome communication challenges with global suppliers and/or customers.
  • They are generally exempt from Social Security and Medicare contributions, which saves an organization money.
  • They often become proponents of a company and supportive ambassadors of American culture when they visit their home countries.

Student VISAs and Work Authorization

Most international students are in the U.S. on an F-1 visa (nonimmigrant, student) or J-1 visa (nonimmigrant, cultural and educational exchange).  These visas permit students to accumulate a certain amount of work experience related to their major both while a student and following graduation.  The table below summarizes the amount of employment permitted before and following graduation.

Visa Type Degree Level Amount of Employment Permitted Prior to Degree
(Co-op and Internship Positions)
Amount of Employment Permitted
After Receiving Degree
(Most Common at ISU)
Master, &
364 Days 12 months plus an additional 24 months (STEM extension) if employed with a company that is a member of “E-Verify.”

Note: 12 month eligibility is repeated for each degree level and the STEM extension can be used twice in a lifetime at two different degree levels.

J-1 Bachelor &
Up to 18 months or the length of your time in J1 status, whichever is shorter.  For example, a nine-month program means nine months of academic training (work) eligibility. Any remaining portion of the academic training not used prior to receiving degree
Doctoral Same as above Any remaining portion of the academic training not used prior to receiving degree plus an additional 18 months (36 months total)
Other A small number of students may hold visa other than the ones mentioned here.  Contact Engineering Career Services if you have an interest in employing one of these students.
Process for Employing International Students in Co-op and Internship Positions
Process for Employing International Students after they Graduate
Retaining International Students beyond the Term Allowed by Student Visa

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it legal to hire international students?
Is hiring an international student expensive and time consuming?
Do international students need work authorization before accepting an offer?
How is work authorization documented?
How many hours per week must an intern or co-op student work?
What is the E-Verify program and what is the process to register for the program?
What are the Tax Obligations for Individuals on F-1 and J-1 Visas?
Does an employer need to prove that international students are not taking jobs from a qualified American?

Additional Information

U.S. Employer’s Guide to Hiring International Students (pdf) prepared by ISU’s International Students and Scholars Office (ISSO)

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)

E-Verify Information

Legal Disclaimer: This material is not intended as and does not serve as legal advice.  It is for informational purposes only and is NOT a substitute for professional legal advice.  Content is subject to change, and employers are advised to consult an experienced U.S. Immigration Attorney for advice and further information.  For more information on regulations regarding hiring international students, see www.uscis.gov.