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International Student Employment
You Are Welcome…
According to the Institute of International Education, in 2016, the U.S. set a record high of having 975,000 international students enrolled in U.S. colleges and universities. There are lots of good reasons students come to the U.S. to study: a quality education, international experience for their resume, practical work experience, and opportunities to work in the U.S. after graduation. A-State is excited to welcome you and we want to help you in your career aspirations. The information you will find on this page is to help you comprehend and conquer the difficulties associated with international students seeking employment in the U.S. We’ll give you an overview of the job market, helpful information, and resources as you start your search, and a summary of how our Career Services and Immigration offices can assist you.
Just remember: the student holds the responsibility for his or her own job search, securing a position, and obeying all immigration regulations and policies of Arkansas State University, which apply to F1 students, including employment regulations. Working without proper authorization is a serious violation of a student’s F1 status. Arkansas State University has resources to help students as they engage in this process and we encourage students to use them.
Understanding the U.S. Job Market and Competition
The job market in the United States is extremely competitive with almost 4 million students graduating annually, beginning new careers. This means that you are competing with all other international students and U.S. citizens.
To compete with U.S. citizens, you need to set yourself apart and be distinctive, through your worldview and experience. You will have to find a suitable position and an employer who is willing to spend the extra time and money sponsoring your visa after your optional practical training (OPT) period. Since companies are in extra effort to assist you, your job is to be clear on the value you add over U.S. citizens and other international students.
Hiring an international candidate requires employers to go through the following process after the optional practical training (OPT) period ends:
- Petitioning the government for an H1B
- Obtaining approval from the Labor Department
- Hiring a lawyer and absorbing major fees
The state of the job market effects the inclination and capability of employers to sponsor international students since the number of H1B visas is capped each year. The 2018 fiscal year quotas were set at:
- Regular H1B Quota: 65,000
- H1B Masters Degree Quota (only U.S. degrees): 20,000
According to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), employers have to follow guidelines if they seek to sponsor an international candidate. These guidelines can be pretty strict, including that the candidate has extraordinary ability in their field and that they are the best fit for the job.
Before You Start Your Job Search:
The first step in the job search for international students is to make sure that you have your employment authorization for your period of optional practical training (OPT). Visit the International Student Services office and meet with an Immigration Advisor to learn more.
Helpful Information for International Students:
- Start early: As an international student, you could face certain challenges and limitations regarding the U.S. job search. We suggest that you plan ahead and begin your search early, even at least a year in advance of your graduation date. You can start to apply for your optional practical training (OPT) ninety days before your graduation date.
- Know the rules and regulations: Understand the visa process, deadlines, costs, length of the process, and which companies hire international students and graduates.
- Communicate professionally and clearly: Communication skills are very important. Use every possible opportunity to strengthen your command of spoken and written English. Attend conversation clubs. Your resume, cover letters, and social media accounts should all reflect error-free, compelling, professional content that is consistent with a U.S. format. Check and respond to email daily so that you do not miss anything.
- Use your resources wisely: Attend on-campus events (job-fairs, workshops, lectures, etc.), join off and on campus professional organizations, and meet with the Career Services staff to build relationships.
- Convey your strengths: Know your unique assets and academic training, and focus on employers that have a strong need for all of those strengths. The practice of focusing on and talking about yourself can be strengthened through mock interviews that the Career Services office holds.
- Network: Networking is even more important for an international students than for a U.S. citizen. By networking, we just mean making personal, written, or telephone contacts with relatives, friends, and alumni in the United States and back home who may be able to help you in the search. Professors will be a great asset as they can provide letters of recommendation. Each person you contact becomes a contributor in your search. Fellow students from abroad who have gained some experience with the U.S. job market may be able to help you with your search for a position. LinkedIn is a great resource for a professional networking account as well.
- Pursue the right companies: In your research and networking efforts, concentrate on employers that have connections (offices, subsidiaries, marketing teams, sales forces) to your country of origin. These companies may have an interest in you working for them in this country or to return to your home country after initial training in the United States. In addition to the resources on campus, contact your embassy. Often, foreign embassies maintain lists of contacts for employment.
The best employment prospects for international students may be with international companies. International students are huge benefits to global organizations desiring language skills, respect for diversity, and/or knowledge of overseas economies. International students should also pursue organizations that have historically sponsored H1B visas.
Hire A-State – Career Services’ online portal for information such as event and workshop schedules, resume postings, interviewing and networking tools. This is a service for students and alumni.
U.S.C.I.S. – The official United States Citizenship and Immigration Services department that provides the information on employment regulations.
MyVisaJobs – Information portal and online community for visa job hunters around the world. Major services include annual and quarterly reports for H1B visa and green card, sponsor.
H1Base – Online, interactive database that allows international students to directly connect with the top 550 H1B sponsor companies. This database includes an immigration kit that provides links to key forms, information, and free access to immigration attorneys. This also includes a networking kit that provides links to job search engines and job sites specifically designed for international students.
Immihelp.com – Job seekers can use the immihelp searchable database to seek out employers who have historically sponsored H1B visa candidates.
Establishing a career path and staying connected upon graduation with A-State are major issues for graduating students. A-State’s Career Services office is here to help.
Our Career Services office is here to help all students from freshmen to seniors to even graduate students. Come visit early in your university career and re-visit often. It is never too early to get started.
Services and Resources Offered in Career Services:
- Career Tips and Advice
- Resume Review
- Mock Interviews
- Career Fairs and Special Events
For more information, please visit their web page at: http://www.astate.edu/a/careers/
Frequently Asked Questions:
Should I list my visa status on my resume?
Your visa status should not be included on your resume. Your permanent address, educational background, and work history will display that you are an international student. Hiring managers will ask the appropriate questions during the recruitment process. You should never lie about your visa status, but given the reservations employers have about hiring an international student, it is not to your benefit to draw attention to it.
Are there illegal questions?
An employer may not ask:
- What is your visa type, nationality, place of birth, or which country you are a citizen of?
- What is your native language or what language do you most often speak?
An employer may ask:
- Are you legally authorized to work in the U.S.?
- Will you now or in the future require sponsorship for an employment visa?
- Which languages do you read, speak, or write (provided that foreign language skills are job related)
If a company says they don’t hire international students, should I even apply?
Sure-unless the job description specifically states that international candidates may not apply. A lot of times when employers say they don’t hire international students, it means that they haven’t hired any international students, yet, and you may be the first! In order to convince these prospective employers, it is your responsibility to educate them about the process of hiring a foreign national. Be mindful that they still may not hire you. It is recommended that you first target organizations with a history of hiring employees on a work visa.
What can I do to make myself a more attractive candidate?
- Have your resume and cover letters reviewed by Career Services, a current or past employer or a professor
- Become familiar with the immigration regulations and benefits attached to your visa and ask an Immigration Advisor when in doubt
- Research the employers and the positions in which you are interested and come prepared to the interview to show your knowledge of just that
- Participate in mock interviews provided by Career Services
- Practice speaking confidently about your skills, interests, and career goals
- Improve your English skills by speaking up in class, conversing with your advisor, or coming to the conversation club. Likewise, fine tune your written English.