Employment Authorization Options

It is important that you are informed of the immigration authorizations available to you as an international student. For F-1 and J-1 students, there are employment authorizations available to you so you can pursue the dream internship or full-time opportunity!

F-1 Employment Authorization Options

F-1 students have different authorizations available depending on whether they are currently a student or if they have finished their degree program. As an F-1 student, you are eligible to work in internships and co-ops through CPT, and also you may be eligible to work 1-3 years after graduating without requiring sponsorship through OPT and the STEM OPT extension. Below are the ISSO resources for you to better understand your employment authorization options:

Immigration Overview Presentation

Curricular Practical Training

Optional Practical Training  

Optional Practical Training STEM Extension 

J-1 Employment Authorization Options

J-1 students must have Academic Training (AT) in place before engaging in any off-campus employment. There are two types of AT available -- pre-completion AT and post-completion AT. Below is the ISSO resource for you to better understand AT: 

Academic Training

Iowa State University Career Services

Career Services is a free resource for you as a student, covered by your student fees. They can provide feedback on your resume, review your cover letter, and help you prepare for an interview. 

International Friendly Companies

Below are lists of employers where international students have been successful at finding internships and full-time positions. These lists are not exhaustive, but can be used as a starting point when looking for companies that are willing to hire international students.

CPT Employers

OPT Employers

Disclaimer: These are companies that have hired international students previously. However, company practices can change over time. We cannot guarantee that all companies listed accept international student applicants.

Advocating for Yourself with Employers

Prospective employers may not be aware of the options available to F-1 and J-1 international students. At some point, you may need to explain to an employer of the options that you have as an international student. Below are some guides that provide an overview of employment authorizations tailored for the prospective employer:

Networking and Identifying International Friendly Companies Presentation

Job and Internship Seeking Tips

F-1 Employment Authorization Infographic

Employers' Guide to Hiring International Students

Job Search Tools and Resources


CyHire allows students to view internship and job postings posted by employer who especially want to hire ISU students. Be sure to check CyHire regularly, as new postings appear frequently. Information is also available on CyHire about upcoming career fairs, employer information sessions, and on-campus interviewing.

Big Interview

(Access Big Interview through CyHire under the Jobs tab on the left side of the website. Check out this guide for accessing Big Interview. )

Big Interview allows you to complete tutorials, practice your interviewing skills, and receive immediate feedback on your answers and delivery through artificial intelligence.

GoinGlobal: Career Guides by Country, U.S. City, and H-1B Database

(Access GoinGlobal through CyHire under the Jobs tab on the left side of the website. Check out this guide for accessing GoinGlobal.)

GoinGlobal is especially helpful for students wanting to relocate outside of Iowa and/or international students searching for employers who have petitioned to sponsor international students in the past.

H-1B Checker

(This is a Chrome extension for LinkedIn.)

H-1B Checker allows you to identify employers that have provided sponsorship. Note, we cannot guarantee that the information is accurate, but it may be a useful tool. 

Tips for Marketing Yourself

This resource provides some helpful suggestions on how to navigate the job search process. This resource was created by Liberal Arts and Sciences Career Services.

Protect Yourself from Scams

Unfortunately, students may stumble upon fraudulent employers in their job search. Below are a few red flags that may indicate a potentially fraudulent employer:

  • Employer websites that are vague with no examples of client work, contact information or social media accounts.
  • Job activities that do not match the description the employer provided to the school.
  • A job’s physical location does not look suitable for the employment and/or does not match the address listed on the Form I-983, “Training Plan for STEM OPT Students.”
  • A relatively unknown or unfamiliar employer that hires a large group of F or M students from a school.
  • The work is done remotely and/or through apps such as WeChat.

If in doubt if a company is legitimate, contact your Career Services Office or International Student Advisor for assistance. 

Read more on SEVP's Recognize the Signs of a Potentially Fraudulent Employer webpage