Hiring International Students

2 students pose in business-wear

International students bring a unique global perspective and multicultural skills, making them ideal assets to diverse organizations addressing complex issues.

Hiring international students offers many benefits

  • International students are often bilingual or multilingual
  • International students demonstrate self-motivation and independence by studying away from home
  • International students are flexible and adaptable as they adjust to new cultures

Work Eligibility

  • International Students on an F-1 visa who have completed at least one full academic year in a degree program in the U.S. are eligible to work under Curricular Practical Training (CPT) and Optional Practical Training (OPT).

  • International degree-seeking students on a J-1 visa who have completed at least one full academic year in a degree program in the U.S. are eligible to apply to Mason's Office of International Programs and Services (OIPS) for off-campus work authorization under Academic Training (AT). Non-degree J-1 students are eligible to apply after completing one semester.

International student intern faces the camera, smiling

Curricular Practical Training (CPT) provides work authorization for a paid or unpaid internship that is directly related to the student's major field of study, is part of an internship course or practicum, and provides training that will allow the student to apply concepts learned in their degree program in a practical setting.

Internships as Curricular Practical Training (CPT)


Students can work up to 20 hours per week during the fall and spring semesters and may be able to work full-time during the summer prior to academic program completion.

Employer Requirements

Employers are asked to provide a mentor or supervisor to ensure work is relevant to the student's course work and to participate in an evaluation of the student.

Newly hired interns will provide you with information about the necessary documents to be completed online once an offer letter is generated by your organization. You must complete your portion of the online application for the student to obtain the needed work authorization from the Office of International Programs and Services.

Work Authorization Timeline

Curricular Practical Training (CPT) approval can take up to 2-3 weeks from the date of paperwork submission. Students must have authorized CPT status before they can begin interning.

3 students face the camera

Optional Practical Training (OPT) provides work authorization for employment that is directly related to the recent graduate’s field of study and applies what they learned in their degree program. 

Employer Sponsored H-1B Visa

The H-1B visa is an employment-based, non-immigrant visa for temporary workers. You can apply for an H-1B Temporary Work Visa for your employee every spring for the next fiscal year, to begin on October 1. Mason's Office of International Programs and Services (OIPS) hosts immigration attorneys four to six times per year to explain work visa and green card options - all are invited! Check oips.gmu.edu for scheduled workshops.

NOTE: Please check the OIPS employer guide for updated information as the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Department of Labor modify policies and regulations pertaining to non-immigrant employment in the United States.

Full-time Employment as Optional Practical Training (OPT) or Academic Training (AT)


The standard OPT period is a cumulative maximum of 12 months. Graduates who are in STEM fields are eligible to apply for an additional 24 months of OPT to work for your organization if you are an E-Verify employer, are willing to complete an I-983 Training Plan, and abide by the requirements of the plan. This gives them a total of 36 months to work for you under OPT.

Academic Training

Academic Training (AT) is an authorization for unpaid or paid off-campus work or training for J-1 students. It must be directly related to their Mason field of study and courses. AT is available during and immediately following completion of a student’s program at Mason. Post-completion AT must be paid. AT authorization is limited to the total period of study for the program or 18 months, whichever is shorter, except for students who complete Ph.D. programs. Post-completion Ph.D. students have the option of an additional 18 months of AT.

Employer Requirements

There are no specific employer requirements for F-1 students. Mason graduates on F-1 visas apply for their own Employment Authorization Document and pay their own fees. Mason students and graduates on J-1 visas could be granted Academic Training to work for your company using a job offer letter with specific information included. They must also be approved by Mason's Office of International Programs and Services (OIPS) and their academic department. Supervisors of J-1 students must also review and agree to J-1 AT responsibilities with the J-1 advisor at Mason. Find out more.

Work Authorization Timeline

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) processing time for OPT could take 90 days or more so candidates are encouraged to apply early. Academic Training approval for J-1 students may take a minimum of three weeks after a complete application has been submitted.