Hiring international graduate students: what employers need to know

If your talent acquisition plan doesn’t include international students, you’re missing out.

Our graduate students bring tangible international experience working in a range of functions, from software development to banking and more. Then they go through the intensive Iowa specialized master's experience, where they manage real equity portfolios, compete in business analytics case competitions, and refine their business skills. All of this adds up to globally competent candidates with diverse backgrounds and experience living and producing results here in the United States.

Below you will find some of the basics of international graduate student hiring, and we’re always available to consult when you are ready to make the leap.

Hiring graduate student interns

Iowa specialized master's students are typically on an F-1 student visa, which allows them to take on summer employment without hardly any paperwork on the employer’s part. The internship is through what’s called Curricular Practical Training (CPT). With CPT, the University of Iowa issues the work authorization. You’ll need to provide a job offer as the CPT is issued for a specific employer.

Hiring for full-time positions

Iowa's international specialized master's graduates are able to work in the United States longer because both of our specialized master's programs are STEM-designated. These graduates work under Optional Practical Training (OPT) for 36 months before they will require employer sponsorship. There is no cost to the employer during the OPT period.

At the end of the OPT period, the employee will need his/her employer to sponsor a visa in order to continue to work in the United States. The most common type of work visa in these situations is an H-1B visa. The H-1B visa filing costs vary by company size and also depend on how much is spent on attorney’s fees. You should expect to spend around $5,000.

H1-B visa program in a nutshell

Employers, not the candidates, are responsible for filing for an H1-B visa. You can do that before graduation, before the OPT period begins, or after it begins.

The most important things to remember about the H1-B program are the annual cap and the application timeline. Since the U.S. government allows a finite number of H1-B visas every year—85,000 to be precise—in recent years they have been reaching that quota on the day the application opens on April 1.

Therefore, we strongly encourage you to apply on April 1, ideally the same year the candidate is graduating. You can also file while their OPT is still within the valid window (36 months for STEM-designated programs).