New graduates and college students actively search for summer jobs and internships. Employers keen on hiring noncitizens under OPT or CPT should optimize their understanding of these individuals’ unique needs. OPT and CPT programs not only provide international students with valuable work experience but also serve as a bridge connecting U.S. companies with top candidates, especially in STEM fields. Here are five optimizing tips for employers to navigate this process effectively.
Let’s elaborate on the key points for employers of OPT and CPT candidates:
1. Align Job Titles with Field of Study:
In technical fields, ensuring that the job title corresponds to the candidate’s field of study is crucial. The rapidly evolving technology landscape often introduces new roles that may not align directly with traditional degree programs. The goal is to prevent Requests for Evidence (RFE) by aligning the positions sought with the educational background of the candidates.
2. Familiarize with I-9 Documents:
Employers should be familiar with the required I-9 documents, including EAD (OPT), I-94 records, foreign passports, and Form I-20. During the I-9 process, employers should avoid requesting specific documents from employees and adhere to the proper procedure. Understanding how these documents fit into the I-9 process is essential for compliance.
3. E-Verify Participation:
Employers enrolled in E-Verify can assist F-1 OPT students working in STEM industries. E-Verify participation provides opportunities to extend OPT status for up to three years. This enables employers to submit H-1B petitions and support employees’ green card applications through employment.
4. Employee Engagement Strategy:
OPT grants varying work permissions, ranging from 12 to 36 months. Employers, especially those enrolled with E-Verify, risk losing the skills and expertise of OPT workers after their authorized work period. Implementing strategies to keep OPT employees engaged is crucial for retaining their valuable contributions.
5. Early Consideration of H-1B Sponsorship:
Employers should consider H-1B sponsorship early in the recruitment process. The H-1B lottery system has become a numbers game, and early planning increases the chances of successfully navigating the process. The electronic registration system has reduced entry barriers, making it more accessible for employers to participate in the H-1B lottery.