It is becoming increasingly more difficult for international students to get hired by U.S. companies. Even a graduate-to-be from schools such as Duke University may feel pressured to find an employer both worthy of their qualifications, and who will qualify their legal employment status in the U.S. upon graduation.
An article published by Duke University News, February 24th, 2017, highlights several factors international students should consider in deciding to pursue employment in the United States.
- An international student (or F-1 visa holder) is expected to leave the U.S. within 60 days of completing a degree program.
- If an international student wants to stay in the U.S. after graduation, he or she can either find another degree program to attend or may apply for Optional Practical Training (OPT).
- With OPT, an international student may keep F-1 visa status and work for a year after graduation.
- After the a-year-long OPT is over, an international student has three choices. They include finding an employer to sponsor their H-1 B work visa, enrolling in a new degree program in order to maintain F-1 student visa status, or leaving the United States.
Complexity of Finding Jobs as an International Student
Because of the complexity of applying for U.S. jobs as an international student—visa issues, language barriers, cultural differences, lack of networks and more—we think that the current resources are not sufficient, and we believe that more multifaceted resources can be provided to help international students overcome these challenges,
says senior Sophia Jamal, president of the Duke International Association.
What International Students Care about Most
- A survey conducted by Duke International Association in 2016 suggests “international students are most concerned about their careers” and “This ranked above issues such as culture shock, campus life, and financial aid. “
- International students usually study technology, science, and finance fields due to the high cost of H-1 B visas.
- Most international students stay and work in the U.S. after graduation have jobs with big corporations that are able to afford and retain the international talent.
Best Time to Apply for OPT
International students should apply for OPT by March if they plan on graduating in June.
The earliest you may apply for OPT is 90 days (3-months) prior to the completion of studies*, and the latest you may apply for OPT is 60 days following program completion. It can take several months to receive the OPT work card, so we recommend that you apply at least 90 days prior to the beginning of your intended job opportunity.
(We added this info for your reference. The quoted content is excerpted from Dartmouth College’s website)
An Internship experience can increase your employment prospects under OPT even if the internship is unpaid. Be sure to take advantage of internship opportunities before you graduate.