Can international students legally work in the US after graduation?

Yes, F-1 students have full U.S. work authorization as part of Optional Practical Training (OPT) for up to 12 months post-completion of the MBA program.

J-1 students have full U.S. work authorization for up to 18 months as part of Academic Training (AT) work authorization. Employment must be directly related to the student’s major area of study.

What is OPT and how it can be obtained?

OPT is a temporary employment authorization designed to provide students with an opportunity to apply knowledge acquired at Kellogg to a work experience that is directly related to the student’s major area of study.

Most students have a maximum of 12 months of OPT authorization, during which time they may transition to another visa type such as H-1B.

The employer is not responsible for filing any forms or fees. Students can obtain an OPT recommendation from a designated School official, an advisor in the International Office at Northwestern University, then mail the OPT application along with copies of other requested documents to USCIS (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services). Within 2-3 months, USCIS approves the application and issues an EAD (Employment Authorization Document), a card which indicates the period of OPT.

Can students in F-1 status travel internationally during OPT?

Yes, students in F-1 status can travel during OPT provided they have the following: valid passport, F-1 visa stamp, form I-20 signed within 6 months of the return date of their proposed travel, valid EAD, and evidence of employment. It is not, however, recommended that they travel internationally while the OPT application is pending or during the OPT Cap-gap extension. F-1 students should always consult with both their employers and F-1 visa sponsors before committing to international travel plans during OPT.

Can international students work long-term in the US?

After a student’s OPT or AT status expires, an employer can hire or continue to employ international students through an employer-sponsored temporary working visa (H1-B) for foreign nationals employed in a “specialty occupation,” which includes any position that calls for an MBA degree. In a majority of cases, an individual may remain in H-1B status for a combined total of six years.

How is H1 B visa obtained?

Employer must first electronically submit Labor Condition Application (LCA) to the Department of Labor. Once the LCA is approved, the employer must then file the form I-129 (the "H1-B petition") and supporting documentation with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

How long does the H1-B visa petition process take?

It can take from six to 16 weeks. There is an option to pay an extra fee of $1225 for “premium processing service” of an H-1B petition, which decreases the processing time to 2 weeks.

Do employers have to pay a certain wage to an H-1B employee?

Yes. The wage paid to an H-1B employee must be the higher of the "prevailing wage" (generally, the average wage for the occupation in the geographic region in which the employee will be employed) or the "actual wage" (the wage paid by the employer to other employees in the occupation with similar qualifications).

What are the filing fees for H-1B visa?

The current filing fee is $325. Unless exempt, employers must also submit:

  • American Competitiveness and Workforce Improvement Act of 1998 (ACWIA) fee of $1500 or $750 (for employers with 25 or fewer employees)
  • Fraud Prevention and Detection fee of $500

Employers who have 50 or more employees in the United States and more than 50 percent of petitioner’s employees in the United States are in H-1B, L-1A or L-1B nonimmigrant status are required to submit an additional fee $2,000

For employers seeking a faster processing service the Premium Processing Service fee is $1,225

May an H1-B employee travel outside the United States?

Yes, H-1B employee may travel if the H-1B status is valid and s/he has a valid H-1B visa in the passport. If the employee does not have a valid H-1B visa, then the employee must obtain an H-1B visa at a U.S. Consulate abroad.

Can an H-1B employee work part-time?

Yes, an H-1B employee may work part-time if the employer petitioned for part-time employment and all other H-1B requirements are met.

Are there limits on the number of new H1-B visas available annually?

Yes. The number of new H-1Bs issued each year in the United States is subject to an annual quota. Each H-1B quota (or “cap”) applies to a particular fiscal year beginning on Oct. 1. Applications for the upcoming fiscal year are accepted beginning on the preceding April 1 (or the first working day after that date).

As soon as the quota is reached, no petitioner can obtain an H-1B until Oct. 1 of the following fiscal year.

Students who have held H-1B at some point in the past six years before starting the MBA program are not subject to the cap. Not all H-1B petitioners are subject to this annual cap.

Please note that the time required to reach the quota varies each year.

Are there other options for hiring international students?

Yes. Certain country-specific long-term working visas offer advantages, such as no quotas and in some cases lower fees and quicker processing. Such visas include:

  • H-1B1 Citizens of Singapore or Chile
  • E-1 Citizens from a treaty country hired to carry out substantial trade with the United States
  • E-3 Citizens of Australia
  • TN Citizens of Canada or Mexico

Other options to the H-1B temporary working visa include:

  • L-1 visa if the foreign national is employed overseas for one year and then transferring back to the United States
  • O-1 visa for the foreign national with a national or international reputation in his or her field
  • E-2 visa for foreign-owned companies employing an individual with the same nationality

Can international employees work permanently in the United States?

Yes. U.S. employers can sponsor a foreign national for permanent residency ("green card"), which allows them to live and work in the United States permanently. For more details please see USCIS guide on sponsoring an employee for an U.S. permanent resident status.

Other pages in Hiring International Students:

Pages in Career Management Center for Employers