International University Students: another workforce pipeline

Is your company looking for new and different ways to grow your workforce? Have you considered hiring an international student from Northern State University to fill that role?

According to Stacey Schmidt, International Student Coordinator at NSU, there are over 200 international students on campus this year, with eight graduating on May 7, 2016. Many of these students are interested in gaining work experience while earning their degree and some would like to continue working in the United States upon graduation.

Interested? Here’s what you need to know: Students attend Northern State University on a F1 Student Visa, which allows them to work on campus part time during the first school year. After one year, students can participate in an internship program called CPT (Curricular Practical Training), working in a job that relates to their major. Students can work part time when school is in session and full time during breaks. Enrollment and credits for CPTs are handled through NSU. The best part? As long as they are obtaining internship credit, those students could potentially work at your company for up to three years in a CPT position.

After graduation, a student can apply for an Employment Authorization Document in order to participate in the OPT program (Optional Practical Training), which allows them to work for one year post-grad in their related field. For students graduating in a STEM field (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math), they can apply for an extra 24 months of OPT employment. So if you’re keeping track, that means an international student could potentially work for your company for up to five years before ever applying for a H1-B visa! For both CPT and OPT programs, all paperwork is handled by the student and NSU - there is no cost to the employer beyond paying the student’s wages.

When interviewing, please note that immigration rules require an international student to have a job offer before they can apply for a Social Security card. But once they have a job offer, Ms. Schmidt estimates the issuance of a Social Security card to take about 10 days. “These students can provide a company with a second language skill and international experience that is becoming more important in today’s global economy. They can also be a huge benefit for employers with short-term projects,” says Ms. Schmidt.

If your company is interested in tapping this underutilized workforce, please contact Stacey Schmidt at 605-626-7672 or email

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