Here is another edit from “Dear Sophie,” the advice column that answers immigration-related questions about working at tech companies.
“Your questions are essential to spreading the knowledge that empowers people around the world to rise beyond borders and pursue their dreams,” says Silicon Valley immigration attorney Sophie Alcorn. “Whether you’re in people operations, a founder, or looking for a job in Silicon Valley, I’d love to answer your questions in my next column.”
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Our startup is recruiting engineers. Most of our team works remotely, but some of our potential hires would like to work in the office. These are international students who graduated in December, as well as some people who have worked with us remotely as entrepreneurs. What are the fastest visa options we should consider? Can their supervisor work remotely? Anything else we should keep in mind?
— Rigorous recruiter
It’s so interesting to hear that your potential recruits want to work in an office. As you might have guessed, students and recent graduates want to meet people and build relationships that come with working in an office with team members. It seems that this is also true for the international talents you are looking to recruit.
Let’s start with your second question. Supervisors are not universally required to work in person with visa holders. However, supervisors can help guide and support new hires and convey your company culture, which is very important for employee connection, happiness, and retention. The exact relationship and degree of oversight depends on the specific immigration category you are considering.
Now let’s look at visa options for international students.
Hiring F-1 students is a quick option!
After at least one full year of college coursework, international students on an F-1 visa are eligible for Optional Practical Training (OPT). This allows them to obtain a work permit which allows them to work full time for one year.
Under OPT, students have two options:
- After completing a full year of coursework, they can work part-time (20 hours per week or less) while continuing their coursework, called pre-completion OPT. Students who work on the pre-completion OPT for one year can work full-time for an additional six months.
- After graduation, students can choose the post-completion OPT, where they work full-time (40 hours per week) for one year. Most F-1 students have chosen this option.
If you are making a post-completion OPT offer to someone who has completed a certain number of pre-completion OPTs, talk to them and their school’s Designated Academic Official (DSO) to find out how many months they he remains on the full 12 months.