Working in the United States
According to United States immigration law, international degree-seeking students with F-1 visas are eligible to complete Curricular Practical Training (CPT-internship/co-op) and Optional Practical Training (OPT-full-time temporary) experiences. Practical training is considered an opportunity for students to gain experience before returning to their home countries and is intended to be temporary. Employers wishing to hire students for permanent employment are required to sponsor the student by applying for an H1-B Visa which provides the candidate work authorization. For this reason, many international students have difficulty securing postgraduate employment.
For more information about Curricular and Optional Practical training, contact International Student Services at your respective campus.
Employers who wish to hire international candidate for full-time, permanent employment go through an extensive and lengthy sponsorship process which includes:
- Petitioning the government for an H1-B visa on behalf of the candidate
- Obtaining approval from the U.S. Department of Labor
- Legal consultation
- Covering applicable fees
- Long waiting periods
Many employers are discouraged by the complexity of the sponsorship process and rather hire U.S. Nationals for domestic positions. In addition, a large number of employers must hire U.S. Citizens due to security clearance requirements. Security clearances cannot be obtained by foreign nationals.
The job market can be greatly affected by a downturn economy, therefore competition for jobs increases while creating a surplus of candidates. This increase in qualified applicants allows employers to be more selective in the hiring process and to select candidates that do not require sponsorship.
English as a second language will not prevent you from obtaining employment, however, effective communication skills are essential to succeed in the workplace. Involvement in class projects, campus organizations and on-campus employment can serve as great opportunities to practice communication skills.
Tackling the Hiring Process
- Employers are not always knowledgeable about H1-B visa sponsorship options, therefore we encourage you to become familiar with this process so you can more easily speak to employers about it
- Avoid applying to job opportunities in the United States within the government, defense and space industries as they will most often require U.S. citizenship for security clearance purposes
- Seek out global companies and companies in your home country
- Customize resumes to the country you are applying to (see sample CVs/resumes on Going Global)
- Network with classmates, faculty, employers, family and friends to find additional employment opportunities
What Employers Look For
Employers seek well-rounded candidates who can demonstrate that they will positively contribute to their company. They look for strong candidates who demonstrate a good academic record, relevant experiences (such as co-op/internships, research, course projects) and involvement in extracurricular activities. Seek out opportunities during your academic career that will help you stand out.
Ethical Responsibilities and Behavior
Interpretation of ethical standards can vary from country to country; therefore, it is imperative for you to familiarize yourself with different cultures and their expectations of professional behavior.