International Students & Companies

International students are an extraordinary addition to any company. At Harvard Business School they represent over a third of the MBA population and come from more than 70 countries. In an increasingly global marketplace, competitive organizations are pursuing global competency as a key attribute in their hiring so this is a pool of talented professionals you should not overlook.

Internship Hiring

All international students are eligible for U.S. work authorization after the first year of the MBA program and none requires visa sponsorship from your organization to work. Most students hold F-1 status and qualify through a grant of Curricular Practical Training (CPT). Those in J-1 status qualify for Academic Training (AT). Work authorization is issued by Harvard so hiring international students requires no more paperwork than when you hire U.S. workers.

Career Hiring

Upon graduation, all F-1 students have U.S. work authorization for 12 months through a grant of Optional Practical Training (OPT). Students in J-1 status have up to 18 months of Academic Training (AT). All students are able to work in any professional business function and employers do not need to interact with the U.S. government to secure work authorization. There is no cost to employers and this is the first step to ensuring a smooth transition to full-time worker. It is then easy to convert these workers to long-term hires at your company.

Long-Term Employment

The H-1B category is the most common long-term work visa but it may be just one option for you. It is easy to sponsor an international student for long-term work in the United States. In fact, each year more than 25,000 U.S. companies employ at least one international worker in H-1B status.

Common Business Category


Specialty Occupation
  • Professional position that requires at least a bachelor's degree
  • Annual quota of 85,000 new H-1B visas with 20,000 reserved for individuals who hold advanced degrees from U.S. universities
  • Individuals who previously held H-1B status not subject to cap
  • A total of 6 years is generally permitted for H-1B professionals


Free Trade Agreement
  • Individuals from:
    • Canada (TN)
    • Mexico (TN)
    • Australia (E-3)
    • Singapore (H-1B1)
    • Chile (H-1B1)
  • No limit on the amount of time a person can work in a TN or E-3 status
  • A total of 6 years permitted for H-1B1 professionals


  • Must have worked at least 1 year in the past 3 for a foreign entity of a company that has a U.S. office
  • No numerical limit on the number of L-1 visas issued
  • A total of 5 years is permitted for L-1B employees (specialized knowledge) and 7 years for L-1A managers/executives


Extraordinary Ability
  • Extraordinary ability in the sciences, education, business, arts or athletics, with sustained national or international acclaim
  • No numerical limit on the number of O-1 visas issued
  • No limit on the amount of time a person can work in O-1 status

Global Recruiting

For those organizations seeking to place students outside the United States, our students have permanent work authorization in more than 80 countries and about half of international students choose career positions outside the country. If you want to discuss how to effectively recruit for your international offices, please review our Closer Look pages and refer to our Recruiting Stategies. If you have specific questions regarding U.S. immigration issues, please contact Kurt Piemonte in HBS Career & Professional Development.