For many international students in the United States, the capstone to their US education comes after graduation when they are allowed to work legally in the US for up to a year on the optional practical training program, or OPT. For those lucky students in a STEM field – science, technology, engineering or mathematics – the period can be extended to up to 29 months. However, the right to work on OPT is subject to many rules and limitations, but it is still one of the best parts of an F1 student visa!
So how does an international student go about getting a job? In addition to normal difficulties that anyone has when finding a job, international students have other struggles. Many employers do not regularly hire non-US citizens and they may not know what is involved. For example, some insurance plans will not let OPT students on their policy so students will need to purchase OPT insurance coverage.
Alternatively, some employers simply cannot afford the additional expense of hiring a student on OPT or sponsoring a worker on an H1B visa. So, a critical part of any OPT job search is targeting employers who have the will and the resources to hire OPT and H1B employees.
There are online resources that can help you identify companies that regularly hire employees on OPT and H1B. Particularly if your goal is to be sponsored for an H1B visa after you are done with OPT, it is important to find a company that regularly sponsors H1B employees.
The foreign labor certification website published by the Department of Labor has great data available to anyone interested in H1B and other employment programs for non-US citizens. Of particular interest to job hunters is the comprehensive data by quarter on LCA filings – these are the filings that an H1B employer needs to make. You can download the latest spreadsheet directly from this page, sort by employer, and you’ve got your list of active H1B employers.
If you have not chosen an employer yet and you are no longer part of your school’s insurance plan, you can get a health insurance quote and apply online on your own for one of our options here. You may also contact us directly for assistance in finding the right OPT insurance for you!
Good luck with the job hunt!