Boris Tsang / Sun Photography Editor

International students face hurdles gaining employment due to the need for visa sponsorship.

March 24, 2019

Visa Sponsorship Creates Additional Hurdles for International Students During Job Search

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With droves of students scoring internships and jobs for the summer, many international students have not reported the same amount of luck. While they may have equally competitive resumes and transcripts as domestic students, the lack of guidance on how to secure work visa sponsorships from employers has been one of the major obstacles for their job search.

To acquire the H-1B visa, which allows foreigners to work full-time in the United States after graduation, international students need to find employers that are willing to give out sponsorships.

“[Sponsorship] is basically the company telling the U.S. government … ‘He is effectively the best-suited candidate for the job, and there’s no American student that would be better suited than him,” Aditya Narayanan ’21 told The Sun.

However, finding companies that are willing to provide sponsorship at career fairs is a difficult process, according to Narayanan, an Indian citizen.

“Every single small or medium-sized company I’ve talked to in any of the career fairs at Cornell, none of them are willing to sponsor me,” Narayanan said. “I’m not sure why Cornell doesn’t find those sort of companies to come down as well because that’s a really big issue.”

Many students have expressed frustration with the fact that it is not always clear at career fairs which companies are willing to sponsor international students, according to AbdulRahman Al-Mana ’20, who’s from Qatar.

“You only have such a limited amount of time at these things. And so you’re ultimately wasting your time — time that you can better off spend networking with other people. It’s very disheartening for a lot of us,” he said.

Leo Kim ’22, a Korean student, also said the sponsorship information listed on Handshake, Cornell’s career network platform, isn’t always accurate. Some companies that advertise as not sponsoring will actually sponsor students, while the opposite situation is also not uncommon, according to Kim.

The International Services team in Cornell’s Office of Global Learning provides support to international students in the visa application process. However, issues with sponsorship are “outside [its] purview,” according to Executive Director Uttiyo Raychaudhuri, who said this is because the office does not work directly with recruiters.

Al-Mana said he believes it would be useful to have an employer catalog, which would be a “list of employers who within the past four years have taken an international student,” similar to the list that the University of Pennsylvania has.

“Something like that would be extremely useful because it could point [international students] towards the right direction of where [they] should be applying,” Al-Mana said.

Kim said he hoped Cornell could provide more information to international students on the issues they may face in the job search, as he feels many students aren’t aware of them before their job searching begins.

“Students themselves don’t even know that they’re going to face a hard time,” Kim said. “They’re going to realize once they start the recruitment process, but I feel like by then it’s too late.”

While there aren’t many resources provided by the University, International Student Union — a student organization — has started to address these issues for their peers. Its advocacy team has submitted a proposal to the administration, including changes to career fairs and Handshake to make employer information more accessible to international students.

“I feel given the pace at which they’re responding, I hope that tangible change that is greater in terms of impact could be achieved very soon,” Kim said.