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Practical training is a legal means by which an F-1 students can obtain employment in areas related to their field of study. Usually, students must have completed an academic year (nine months) on an F-1 visa and must maintain legal F-1 status to be approved for practical training. There are two types of practical training: Curricular Practical Training (CPT), and Optional Practical Training (OPT). Read about them here.
Minimal paperwork for the employer
Fortunately for the employer, there is very little paperwork involved in hiring F-1 students. All paperwork is handled by the student, the school, and the INS. For CPT, the students will have the authorization on the back of their I-20 form. Those who opt to use their OPT time will have an INS-issued EAD.
Continuing employment after the practical training period
Federal regulations require the employment be terminated when the authorization expires. However, students who are on F-1 visa are eligible to continue their employment if they are approved for a change of visa status - usually to H-1B visa. Students must have completed a minimum of a Bachelor's degree in order to qualify for H-1B status.
Individuals with an H-1B visa may work in the US for a period of six years with the employer that petitioned for them; should they change employers, a new H-1B visa petition must be made to the INS. As soon as students receive a job offer that is likely to extend beyond the 12 months of OPT, they should petition for an H-1B visa.