Navid Anjum Chowdhury knew getting a job wouldn’t be easy. But it wasn’t the economy that concerned him.
As an international student at Stanford University hailing from Chittagong, Bangladesh, he was prepared for his options to be limited because companies could not afford to sponsor his work visa, which can cost upward of $2,000 per person.
What he wasn’t prepared for was two flights to the East Coast, flirtations with interested companies and two offers that were then rescinded once the companies found out he was not a U.S. citizen.
“International students are definitely at a disadvantage at the recruiting weeks,” Chowdhury said. “I have many international student friends who didn’t get a job because of their international status.”
Chowdhury, a senior, has since accepted an offer from IBM. But he said he feels disenchanted by the workforce outlook for international students who want to remain in the States.
“Silicon Valley is what it is because of immigrants who are making significant contributions to their fields,” Chowdhury said. “I think it is a loss for the U.S. to give them an education here and then send them back to their home country where they might not be able to do the same kind of work.”
Between the costly sponsorship process for a work visa and the lengthy process for U.S. citizenship — which can take more than seven years because an individual must live with a green card first — many international students are faced with the tough reality that they will go home after graduating from a university in the States.
Anna Dawson, a junior at Stanford, came to America to row. If she does not choose to pursue crew in her home country, New Zealand, she plans to stay in the States and work or attend graduate school. But she has had little internship experience because of her busy summers with the Stanford crew team.
“It will probably be easier for me to find a job in New Zealand,” Dawson said. “If I couldn’t find one here, I’d just go home.”
The Bechtel International Center at Stanford provides students with workshops about the citizenship process and student and work visa requirements. Dawson, Chowdhury and their peers lauded the center for helping international students — who make up 21% of Stanford’s student body — navigate the job market both on and off campus.
What the university can’t do, though, is change U.S. policy, which limits the number of available H-1B work visas to 85,000 per year.
Jingyi Huang, a sophomore at the University of Notre Dame from Shenzhen, China, said in an email that she thinks the U.S. policy is misguided, affecting international students when it means to stop illegal immigration.
“I think the U.S. should gradually release the quota or maybe offer a buffering period for students to hunt for jobs or applying for grad schools,” Huang said.
USA TODAY reported on Jan. 9 that President Obama and congressional leaders plan to address immigration reform this year. One policy option would preference visas to workers in science, technology, engineering and math fields.
Sydney Stockus, a junior at the University of Southern California from Victoria, British Columbia, studies international relations and worries that if legislation focuses on STEM visas, she won’t qualify.
“You create a life for yourself when you’re an undergrad, assimilating to the U.S. culture, making friends and setting down roots,” Stockus said. “It’s a huge concern that after all this work and the money I’ve spent to obtain this education, I might not be able to stay here.”
Powered by Facebook Comments