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Job Seeking Tips for International Students

The job search process is often full of confusion, questions, and awkward situations to navigate. That is why we developed these job search tips to ease the stress of the search process for Drexel's graduating international students.

Frequently Asked Questions

Should I list my visa status on my résumé?

Your visa status should not be included on your résumé. Your educational background and work history will suggest that you are an international student. Hiring managers will ask the appropriate questions during the recruitment process. You should never lie about your visa status, but given the reservations employers have about hiring an international student, it is not to your advantage to draw attention to it.

What questions are illegal?

An employer MAY NOT ask:

  • What is your visa type, nationality, or place of birth? Or, of which country are you a citizen?
  • What is your native language? Or, what language do you most often speak?

An employer MAY ask:

  • Are you legally authorized to work in the United States? Or, will you now or in the future require sponsorship for an employment visa?
  • Which languages do you read, speak, or write (provided that foreign language skills are job related)?

How do I answer when I am asked by an employer about my work authorization? (F-1 student)

Start by explaining that you have the legal right to work in the U.S. for 12 months (after your optional practical training (OPT) is authorized, of course, or you at least have a confirmation with receipt number), which requires absolutely no work on their part. Then share that your work authorization can be renewed for another three to six years with an H-1B work visa. Some companies will be familiar with an H-1B visa petition and others may not. If your company is not familiar with H-1B petitions, you can learn more about them on the USCIS website, or speak with an immigration attorney.

Doesn't an employer have to prove that international students are not taking jobs from a qualified American?

No. American employers are not required to document that a citizen of another country did not take a job from a qualified American if that person is working under an F-1, J-1, or H-1B visa. Employers must document that they did not turn down a qualified American applicant for the position only when they wish to hire foreign citizens on a permanent basis and sponsor them for permanent resident status ("green card").

When in the hiring process do I reveal that I'm an international student?

This is a very sensitive question that needs to be assessed on a case-by-case basis. While some employers adhere to strict policies against hiring foreign nationals, others may prefer to hire U.S. citizens but can be otherwise convinced. Therefore, it should be your goal to get past the initial screening measures and on to the interview. On the other hand, you should probably broach the subject before the employer has spent a significant amount of time and money trying to recruit you. It is usually recommended that students address the issue of their work status during the first or second interview, but no later than the time of the job offer.

If a company says they don't hire international students, should I even apply?

Often when employers say they don't hire international students it means that they haven't hired any international students yet. To convince these prospective employers, it is your responsibility to educate them about the process of hiring a foreign national. Be mindful that they still may not hire you, and this can be frustrating. It is recommended that you first target organizations with a history of hiring employees on a work visa.

Best Practices

  • Meet with Steinbright at least three quarters before graduation to:
    • Review your résumé and cover letters
    • Develop a job search plan
    • Participate in a mock interview and Steinbright workshops
    • Research employers and positions of interest
  • Gather more info about OPT on the International Students and Scholars Services (ISSS) site or the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services's site. Practice how to describe OPT to an employer so you can be your own advocate. Become thoroughly familiar with immigration regulations and benefits attached to your visa status.
  • Review Going Global in the DrexelOne portal under the Co-op + Career tab for the list of companies that have petitioned for H1-B visas. An employer may not be listed here but may still be willing to sponsor.
  • Review information on highlighting your diversity on the Steinbright website and on My Visa Jobs.
  • Reach out to alumni and contacts at companies of interest via LinkedIn for advice. Learn how to lead these conversations, also known as informational interviews, on The Daily Muse.
  • Try to meet with employers face-to-face at networking events, career fairs, and information sessions. That way, you can make a strong in-person impression without being eliminated by the online application questions that may screen out applicants. 
  • Learn about nonprofit sector employers by reviewing Idealist and Great Nonprofits.
  • Remember that you will need a position that relates to your major and has flexibility in what types of positions might qualify. Uniworld Online can be used to identify companies, subsidiaries, and the countries they operate in.
  • Consider applying to multinational employers in your home country or elsewhere to begin your career and perhaps consider internal transfer as a way to grow your career.

Other Useful Site for Navigating This Process