It’s one of the first questions I get as an international student career coach: “Why don’t companies sponsor H-1B visas for international students?” Most students experience rejection from the start of their job search because H-1B visa sponsor companies are difficult to find.
Here are the most common reasons why a company doesn’t offer H1-B visa sponsorship.
They fear you won’t stay long term
Most international students plan to work in the US for a few years. Then they want to return home. That’s normal. But employers know this. They know your family, friends, and life are back home and worry you won’t be committed.
They have enough American applicants
If they already have lots of Americans who are applying for their positions, they don’t need to consider the additional cost of hiring an international student.
They don’t know enough about the sponsorship process
I’ve spoken to recruiters who don’t know anything about hiring international students. Sometimes they have the wrong information. Regardless, they choose not to sponsor international students.
They worry you won’t be selected in the H1B lottery
Currently, this is the biggest reason why companies don’t sponsor H-1B. Sponsoring H-1B candidates is risky. There is no guarantee you will get the H-1B visa because it is a government lottery system. Only 35% of employers who applied for the H1B received one in 2015. That means 2/3 of international students who were at the companies who sponsored (and employed them) had to leave the country when their OPT was finished.
It costs between $3,000-$10,000 to sponsor H-1B. It takes over 10K to a company to train and sponsor you. Some companies can’t afford the loss.
Identifying which companies sponsor H-1B visas
In a survey of 959 employers, GMAC found that 55% of US companies plan to hire international students or are open to hiring international students. 45% of companies have no plans to hire international students. Companies that sponsor international students are concentrated in the technology industry. For international MBA students, consulting firms are more open to hiring international students. Larger companies are more open to hiring international students than small companies. Companies with international operations and locations are more open to H-1B sponsorship than American only companies. Fortune Global 100 companies are the most likely to be H-1B visa companies.
Why companies sponsor H-1B visas
When companies sponsor H-1B visas for international students, they do it because it’s a smart business decision. The company views the international student hire as a good investment in their business. Usually the international candidate can solve a business problem. The student might also have an uncommon skill that American applicants do not have. Those skills might be language skills, regional knowledge, technical skills (i.e. machine learning, data science), or a combination of all three. Sponsoring an H-1B candidate involves a lot of commitment and money on the employer’s part.
International students who succeed in the H-1B job search
Finding companies that sponsor international students is a big challenge. However, it is not impossible for an international student to get a job in the U.S. There are companies hiring international students. It just takes time to find them. International students who want to find work in the US after graduation must first learn about the H-1B visa process. International students who get hired by US companies are exceptional candidates. They adapt to a competitive American recruiting process. Successful candidates adapt their search strategies as they learn and overcome cultural barriers in the process.