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Sunday, December 10, 2023


Job hunt more difficult for international students

Student loans hover over your head and an insecure future looms after graduation. Sounds familiar for many students who are counting days on fingertips for the upcoming graduation. But international students face a completely different deadline date when it comes to job hunting after graduation.

According to the IIE report release, the enrollment of new international students for the first time at a United States university increased by 7.5 percent over last year. In the 2013-2014 academic year, a total of 886,052 international students were studying across different universities.

These students start from competitive exams as SAT, GRE, GMAT, TOEFL, IELTS that test their aptitude, English language skills and knowledge base. This is then followed by a college admission process, which is not transparent and is based on multiple factors.

Flying away from home after traveling more than 8,000 miles, international students are set to embark on a new struggle. While they might be adjusting to a new culture, they are forced to adjust to problems as home sickness, learning to cook, living by themselves and a new schooling system which is different from the education system in their home countries.

After surpassing these struggles, they are faced with the next hurdle of starting a career in U.S. International students pay twice the tuition fee, pay for a visa status to study in the country and have limited employment options of working on campus only during school.

A majority of the companies ask a common question to applicants: are you eligible to work in the U.S. with a work authorization? Despite paying for nearly everything, these students are rejected based on work authorization.

Many employers don’t want to waste their time on a candidate who will require extra paper work, time and cost of sponsorship. For many international students, their candidacy ends the moment they mention their visa status — regardless of their resume and GPA. These are not illegal immigrants, but students who have earned a legal visa status.

Electrical engineering graduate student Varsha Dwajan said she is familiar with the tribulations of being an international student.

“Start-up companies call to say they love your profile and interview you,” Dwajan said. “They later reject you saying they are too small a company to sponsor.”

This goes to show how much time and effort international students have to put in compared to their domestic counterparts.

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services reported receipt of almost 233,000 H1B petitions, which allow U.S. employers to hire foreign workers for specialty occupations, this year, well in excess of the limits for the cap of 85,000 H1B work visas.

There is a bright side, as there are big employers like Facebook, Google and Yahoo whose CEOs have formed a lobby for American immigration reform.

In an editorial for Washington Post, Zuckerberg said the whole country will benefit from more H1B work visas.

“To lead the world in this new economy, we need the most talented and hardest-working people,” Zuckerberg wrote. “We need to train and attract the best.”

“Given all this, why do we kick out the more than 40 percent of math and science graduate students who are not U.S. citizens after educating them?”

Industrial engineering UH alumnus Karthik Thiyagarajan said that from personal experience, he can say that getting a job in the U.S. was one of the hardest things for him.

“You won’t get calls — if you get one, they’ll say no sponsorship — that your friends will get. You’ll be happy after your interview, sad after you get denied, and you’ll keep thinking about it, but never ever lose hope.”

Thiyagarajan encouraged other international stuents to not lose hope, as his H1B was issued this year.

“We just have to stop worrying and be focused,” he said. “Once you get your first one, the rest will fall in place.”

Opinion columnist Aishwarya Gogoi is a petroleum engineering graduate student and may be reached at [email protected].

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