Prior to starting my Masters program at Syracuse University, I was unaware of how stressful the job process was for international students. When I landed a job, most of my anxiety went away. But, for international students, the pressure continues. The stress for international students is ongoing and never ends until the he or she obtains a green card. Despite these difficulties, international students are essential for our country’s success. According to Yoree Koh of the Wall Street Journal, 51% of US billion dollar startups are founded by immigrants. Immigrants are building innovative companies.
Despite their impact on the economy, there are many obstacles. In order to enter this country international students must prepare for entrance exams. They leave behind their family and friends. Once they begin school, they must support themselves by paying for their rent, while studying at school.
For them it’s not only the stress of finding a job, but also finding an employer to sponsor them. In other words, an international student must find a job where the employer will petition for the H-1B on behalf of the employee. When the company applies for the international student’s H-1B visa, it is still uncertain that the individual will be able to remain in the States because the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has a cap on the number of H-1B visas offered. The USCIS selects individuals at random, similar to a lottery system and as such, there are many uncertainties. For example, international students have to worry if they will even be selected in the lottery system. Furthermore, if there is a re-organization at their company and they get laid off they must find a new job within a month or risk being sent back to their country.
Many Americans are unaware of the stress that an international student faces while in this country. The uncertainty of obtaining a green card weighs on an international students’ mind. International students are only eligible to apply for a green card, after having spent a minimum of 5 years in the United States. After that, the international student can ask his or her current employer to apply for a green card for them.
Aside from starting companies, there are a number of highly touted CEOs of international origin. These CEOs include Sundar Pichai (India) – Google, Safra Katz (Israel) – Oracle, Elon Musk (South Africa) - SpaceX/Tesla, Satya Nadella (India) – Microsoft, and Indra Nooyi (India) – PepsiCo to name a few.
International students have to jump through a lot of hoops. So next time you are thinking about hiring one, lend a helping hand and recognize the challenges that they face everyday.