International Students

International students may be eligible to work off-campus, or through an internship, while enrolled in a degree program. Once graduated, eligible international students may also work off-campus or in an internship.

F-1 Optional Practical Training (OPT)

F-1 Optional Practical Training or OPT allows F-1 students to work for one year (with possible extension). After completing nine months of study towards their degree, students with F-1 status are permitted by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to work on a student visa to get practical training to complement their studies.

H-1B Visa Application

How can you continue working after OPT ends?

The H-1B Visa is an employment-based, non-immigrant visa, which allows U.S. employers to temporarily employ foreign workers in specialty occupations.

  1. Application Information

After OPT expires, the H-1B Visa allows international employees to continue working in the US. During your job search, you need to pay special attention to which companies in your field are sponsoring H-1B Visas and whether they hire foreign nationals. Use the resources below to explore your H-1B options as early as possible and avoid limitations due to the cap.

  1. Sponsorship Process for Companies

Some employers have a policy of not hiring foreign nationals and strictly abide by it, in many cases though, this is due to a lack of awareness about the process. Take initiative and learn about all aspects of the process and share this information with your employer.

External resources for Job Search and Interview Basics

As an international student seeking post-graduation employment in the United States, you will encounter some unique issues in your job search. We have compiled external resources in order to better assist you in your career exploration and interview preparation. This library of resources includes content from Rice University, University at Buffalo and University of Virginia for the general use of international students.

International Hiring Databases

The following international hiring databases will help you conduct in-depth research on transnational opportunities and foreign hiring practices. Columbia engineering students may use their UNI and password to gain access to these services.

English Language Programs

Compared with US students’ job searches, even if you may have the skills employers are seeking, trying to find a job in the United States can be much more challenging for international students. Language barriers can often contribute to this difficulty. Therefore, it is of great importance for international students who are non-native speakers to develop solid English proficiency. You can make use of resources in Toastmasters International, a nonprofit educational organization that operates clubs worldwide, to improve your communication, public speaking, and leadership skills. Additionally, the American Language Program offered at and outside of Columbia University is a great resource. You can also refer to the English Language Classes and Resources recommended by Columbia University Center for Career Education.