Employer Guide for Hiring International Students

Hiring a UC Santa Cruz international student is an excellent way to bring some of the world’s best talent to your organization. The many benefits of hiring international students include:

  • Broadening the diversity of ideas and perspectives of your teams
  • Enhancing your economic, scientific, and technological competitiveness
  • Increasing understanding of markets in students’ home countries and utilizing networks for the benefit of your organization

ISSP has compiled important information regarding the employment below.

What is work authorization?

A common misconception about international students is that they are not allowed to work. In fact, a benefit of the J-1 status is that most students may apply for work authorization to accept a variety of employment opportunities. Also, it is possible for students to begin working without their employers having to provide visa sponsorship. However, some work authorization types do require an application to the government or the student’s international office at their school.

Below, we have provided an overview of the types of work authorization available to J-1 students.

J-1 Academic Training

Academic Training (AT) is an off-campus authorization that allows J-1 students to work in jobs and internships that are directly related to their degree programs. Students have to work with their academic departments and their school’s international office to apply for AT.

Other characteristics of Academic Training:

  • No employer sponsorship is needed, but the application will require a letter from the employer.
  • The student must have a job offer before they can apply.
  • AT may be used before or after a student completes their degree.
    • AT acquired before degree completion is referred to as Pre-completion Academic Training
    • AT acquired after degree completion is referred to as Post-completion Academic Training.
  • Application is initiated by the student, is processed by ISSP, and takes approximately 7-10 business days to approve.
  • Allows part-time and full-time work.
  • Doctoral students may be eligible for up to 36 months of authorization, while bachelor’s and master’s students are eligible for up to 18 months. Exchange students are eligible for AT corresponding to the amount of time in their program (e.g., 90 days of study = 90 days of AT eligibility).

Employer Responsibilities

When students apply for AT, they will be required to submit a “job offer letter”. This letter is crucial to authorizing AT and we strongly recommend that employers review the AT webpage to make sure all required information is included and prevent AT processing delays.


Once all documents are received, it will take approximately 1 week for ISSP to authorize the student’s AT. AT approval comes in the form of a new DS-2019 which will detail the employment authorization on the first page. The form DS-2019 may be copied for Human Resources purposes however, the student is required to carry the original.

Note: Students are not permitted to begin their employment until their work authorization has been approved. Working even one day without proper work authorization can have severe consequences on the student’s immigration status.

Other types of work visas

The information below is not intended to serve as legal advice; it is for informational purposes only. Content is subject to change. Employers are advised to consult with an experienced immigration attorney or area hiring professional with any additional questions.

Federal regulations require that a student end their employment once their practical or academic training has expired. However, in some cases, students in J-1 status may be eligible to apply for a change of status to a work visa, such as the H-1B or TN visa.

H-1B visas are granted to foreign nationals who will work in “specialty occupations”. A specialty occupation requires the theoretical and practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge to fully perform the required duties. Specialty occupations require a bachelor’s or higher degree in a specific field as a minimum for entry into the occupation.

The H-1B application is employer-based, meaning only the employer can sponsor an individual for H-1B status.

Note: ISSP is not able to advise students on visa types outside of the J-1 status. Employers can find more information on work visa types on the USCIS website. Students are also encouraged to consult with an immigration attorney (if possible) when applying for their change of status.

Taxes, SSN, and Other Resources


All international students and scholars present in the U.S. must file a Form 8843 each year, regardless of whether they were employed in the U.S. or not.

Learn more on our Filing Taxes webpage.

Social Security Number

All students and scholars lawfully employed in the U.S. are required to apply for an SSN.

Some students or dependents not yet eligible for SSNs can apply for an Individual Tax Identification Number (ITIN). 

Learn more on our SSN & ITIN webpage.

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Last modified: Nov 21, 2023