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Hosting an Intern: Can I Hire an International Student?

Hosting an Intern blog post series part two (see one and three). 

This question frequently comes up for employers – what is the situation with hiring international colleges students for internships? I encourage employers to consider international internship applicants because they often bring a variety of skills and experiences that will benefit your organization.

Here are the points I always highlight:

  • There are a lot of assumptions out there that international students will “cost” an organization money to host as an intern because of the stipulations around visa status and employer sponsorship. Odds are, you most likely can hire an international student for an internship (paid and unpaid) and it will not cost your organization any money in visa sponsorship or paperwork costs. 
  • A great number of non-immigrant international students (especially undergraduate) are here in the United States on an F-1 visa which has Optional Practical Training (OPT) time built into the visa. The OPT allows a student to stay in the US and work outside of classes (paid and unpaid) in positions that relate directly to their field of study. A student can use this OPT time for an internship during school or for a job after graduation.
  • The ultimate responsibility for understanding visa status and the stipulations around internships lies with the international college students themselves. Each student has a Designated School Official (DSO) at their institution who will approve the student for any employment experiences while in school or upon graduation. 

For more detailed information about non-immigrant international college students and the OPT portion for the F-1 visa, click here.

Connect directly with the individuals and offices responsible for coordinating internships in the schools and departments within our region’s universities and colleges with ConnectVA’s Connect to Students.

And make sure to:

– Register for Internship Bootcamp on January 9th with ConnectVA, UofR and VCU

– Attend the second annual Regional Nonprofit Career and Internship Fair with VCU and ConnectVA on February 19th to find talent for your organization


ConnectVA Guest Blogger: Joslyn Bedell, Associate Director for Employer & Experiential Development, University Career Center at Virginia Commonwealth University.

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