Why American companies are nervous to about hiring international students

Finding companies that sponsor candidates for the H1B visa (i.e. apply for the H1B visa on your behalf) is the hardest part of the job search for international students. Learning that a company doesn’t hire international students is frustrating. But in times of frustration remember this: the decision to sponsor or not sponsor international students is a business decision. To find an employer who will sponsor you, you must first understand the employe’s perspective.

Top reasons why companies don’t offer H1B visas to international students

H1b visa jobs

Top reasons companies may not hire international students from GMAC Corporate Recruiters Survey 2017

Since employers commit money and resources H1B visa candidates, they are nervous about hiring international students.

They fear you won’t stay – Many international students plan to stay a couple of years before they move on from the US. It’s a good plan to get global experience. But employers know this. They also know your family and friends are back home. They worry you won’t be committed.

They have enough American applicants – If  lots of Americans are applying for positions, they don’t need to hire an international student. Employers hire international students when they don’t have enough Americans applying for the job.

They don’t know enough about the H1B visa process – I’ve spoken with recruiters who don’t know anything about hiring international students. Sometimes they have the wrong information about sponsorship. Therefore they’ll simply say they don’t sponsor to move on.

They don’t have the resources or want to spend extra money for international candidates – Big companies like Google and Amazon hire many international candidates. They have departments dedicated to supporting international candidates in the H1B visa lottery. Smaller companies and startups have less  financial resources for the process.

H1b visa fees

A snapshot of H1B visa fees from immi-usa.com

They worry you won’t be selected in the H1B lottery – Even if an employer sponsors you, there is no guarantee you will get the H1B visa because of the government lottery. Only 35% of employers who applied for the H1B received one in 2015. That means 2/3 of international students who were hired by American companies had to leave the country when their OPT was up. Since companies invest in you some companies can’t afford the loss if they don’t get the H1B visa.

So what should you do to get hired as an international student?

There is no one way to get hired as an international student in the US. It’s a combination of strategy and tactics. Also it’s mixed with timing and luck (and you can’t control the lottery system and the immigration debate in the US).

First, know how to overcome the reasons why employers don’t sponsor international students:

Employers think you won’t stay.

How to overcome this: If you’re engaging in small talk or at a networking event with employers, talk about how much you are enjoying American culture, your plans to stay, if you have family in the country, and how you’ve always dreamed of living in the US. If you’re in an interview, talk about your long-term plans to grow with the company and where you see yourself in 5 years at the company.

Employers have enough American applicants

How to overcome this: Apply to jobs that are more common for H1B visa sponsorship (see below). Target industries like technology and consulting which are more open to international talent.

Employers don’t have resources to hire you. 

How to overcome this: Apply to larger companies that are more likely to have resources. The GMAC Corporate Recruiters Survey 2017 reports that larger companies are more likely to hire international students than smaller ones:

“Large companies are more likely to hire or be willing to hire international candidates (34%) in 2017 versus 13 percent of small companies. Fortune Global 100 companies are the most likely to hire international candidates in 2017 (69%). Only seven percent of start-ups will hire international candidates in 2017; 57 percent are willing to but have no such plans this year.”

Employers don’t know about the sponsorship process.

How to overcome this: Learn as much as you can about CPT, OPT, and the H1B process so you can discuss the process with flexible employers. Note: not all recruiters have the time to listen to an in-depth discussion on work authorization for international students. This is a case-by-case situation. It is not applicable to all employers.

They worry you won’t be selected in the H1B lottery

How to overcome this: There isn’t much you can do about this one. Companies in the US are nervous about H1B visa uncertainties. Some students have convinced companies to hire them for one year on OPT (or three for OPT extension) then transfer to another company location outside the US, regardless of H1B success. This method leverages your international strengths and may work well for companies with a global workforce. Alternatively, you can target H1B cap-exempt employers. H1B visa cap-exempt employers are a category of organizations whose employees are not subject to the H1B visa lottery. They are nonprofits, universities, and some hospitals. There is no lottery risk for these organizations.

Next, target companies that have a history of hiring H1B visa candidates

Don’t spend time applying to companies that don’t hire international students. Learn how to research companies that hire international students. Here’s a short list:

  • Accenture
  • Microsoft
  • Ernst & Young
  • Google
  • Amazon
  • Facebook
  • Intel
  • JPmorgan Chase
  • PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC)
  • Apple
  • Goldman Sachs
  • Citibank
  • KPMG
  • Bank of America
  • Wal-Mart Associates
  • Ebay
  • PayPal
  • Salesforce.com
  • American Express
  • Deloitte Tax
  • LinkedIn
  • Yahoo!
  • Barclays
  • Bloomberg
  • Schlumberger Technology

Then find which jobs get the most H1B visa offers

Myvisajobs.com provides a searchable list by H1B occupations and common job titles. Here are the top jobs that were sponsored last year:

  • Software Developers
  • Computer Systems Analysts and Programmers
  • Management Analysts
  • Accountants And Auditors
  • Network And Computer Systems Administrators
  • Mechanical Engineers
  • Financial Analysts
  • Database Administrators
  • Market Research Analysts And Marketing Specialists
  • Operations Research Analysts
  • Computer And Information Systems Managers
  • Electrical Engineers
  • Physicians And Surgeons, All Other
  • Medical Scientists
  • Web Developers

These are the top job titles submitted for H1B visas.

  • Programmer Analyst
  • Software Engineer
  • Software Developer
  • Systems Analyst
  • Computer Programmer
  • Business Analyst
  • Computer Systems Analyst
  • Senior Software Engineer
  • Developer
  • Technology Lead/Analyst
  • Assistant Professor
  • Consultant
  • Project Manager
  • Senior Consultant
  • Database Administrator
  • Developer User Interface
  • Physical Therapist
  • Software Engineer 2
  • Lead Engineer
  • Analyst
  • Associate

Next, target jobs where you have the advantage

As an international student, you bring knowledge and language skills to any position. If a company is looking to expand operations in China you have local knowledge. That is a competitive advantage. Likewise, if you are from Latin America and a company is expanding marketing efforts to your region, you have the advantage in the job search. To find these opportunities conduct deep research. Deep research is  understanding the company needs and services. Then identify your advantage.

Finally, make the business case for hiring you

H1B visa hiring

Translation: how will hiring you make the company/department/team better?

Employers are making a business decision to hire you. Therefore you must persuade them why they should spend more money on you.

To make your business case, try this exercise. Each time you see a company you want to apply to write down the answers to these questions:

  • How will hiring you benefit the company?
  • What do you offer than nobody else can offer (especially an American candidate)?
  • What problem can you help the company solve?

Obviously, these are not easy questions to answer at the beginning of your search. It takes research, reflection, and persuasion skills. International students who get hired by US companies know these answers.


Need more help with your H1B job search? Sign up for free email course to get the started in your internship or job search!

It’s not just work authorization: Top 6 reasons employers reject international students

Submitting a resume and getting no response is common. Many international students think lack of work authorization is the reason for rejected. Sometimes it is. But it isn’t the only reason.

Here are six reasons why American employers reject international students.

You don’t have work experience

Work authorization hiring

Employers look for work experience. Source: NACEJob Outlook 2017

Many international students think good grades qualify them for a job. Yet American employers value experience as much (and sometime more than) good grades. They want to hire smart people. But they always want to see U.S. work experience. It’s a challenge: you’re searching for an internship because you need experience but employers rarely hire without any experience.

How to overcome this challenge: Get experience outside the classroom. Try volunteer projects, remote internships, and real-world projects,

You haven’t adapted to American cultural norms

If you’re not comfortable with American culture, you won’t get hired. For example, self-promotion is part of the US job search. You’re expected to talk about your achievements. If you come from a culture where self-promotion is considered rude, you might avoid doing it. Small talk is required during interviews. If you don’t like small talk, you won’t get hired. These small, cultural norms can make the difference between being hired and being rejected.

How to overcome this challenge: Hang out with Americans to better understand their cultural norms. Make friends with internationally-minded Americans so you can ask them about their culture. Also, connect with someone from your culture who has lived in the U.S. Ask them how they adapted.

Two resources to help you:

How to Adapt to American Style Self Promotion

Improve Your American-style Small Talk 

You haven’t articulated why you want the internship or job

If you can’t articulate why you are a good fit for an internship, you won’t get hired. Employers hire people who can communicate why they are the best person for the job.

Consider the difference:

Employer: What interests you about this role?

Candidate #1: “I study mechanical engineering and your company is very well known as a top place for engineering students.”

Candidate #2: “As an engineer, I’m always focused on solving problems. In your company’s mission statement, you write about tackling some of the biggest, most ambitious problems in the world. I want to join your team and help you solve those problems. When I was researching this role, I learned that this role supports Sales teams. While I bring strong math and engineering skills to this role, I also enjoy collaborating with diverse teams. I’m excited about the opportunity to work on a team that is solving complex problems.”

Which candidate do you think impresses employers? #2, of course.

How to overcome this challenge:  For every job opening, reflect on why you want it. Before you apply, answer these questions:

  • Why do you want to work at this company
  • What qualifies you for this position?

Be as detailed as possible in your answers. Research the websites and social media profiles to get information about the team, products, services, and company mission.

You only submit resumes online

The average job positing receives over 200 resumes. Employers invited around 2% of candidates to interview. It’s hard to stand out. Building a network of people who know your goals is an advantage in the job search. When you build relationships inside companies, you build advocates who help your resume get noticed. Most international students do not network because they don’t have time, they haven’t been taught how, or it’s uncomfortable.

How to overcome this challenge:  Start learning about networking. Networking is simply conversations with people who interest you. It’s about sharing information. Practice talking to speakers who come to your campus. Visit your professors and tell them about your career interests. Ask them for advice on your job search. Pay attention to networking events from your career services offices. Go to all of them. Then learn how to conduct informational interviews.

You haven’t found a way to stand out 

Work authorization competition

College internships and jobs are competitive. Engineering, technology, and business are the most popular among international students. Everyone applies to Google, Facebook, and Amazon because they offer work authorization. So stand out from the competition by doing more than average.

How to overcome this challenge: Get creative. Here’s an example of a cover letter to a leading venture capital database company written in the style of their wildly popular newsletter. Here are examples of personal websites that stand out. Then talk to people inside companies about your ideas.

You aren’t showing employers your soft skills

Soft skills top priority for companies that provide work authorization

Soft skills are most important for hiring companies. Source: GMAC Corporate Recruiters Survey 2017

It’s easy to show your technical skills. A portfolio or coding test shows you’re technically qualified. But many students forget to show their soft skills.

“Hiring managers are looking for applicants who have developed soft skills such as communication, teamwork, and leadership, according to a survey by PayScale. As many as 60% of employers found critical thinking and problem solving lacking in entry-level job seekers.” (from the article, The Skills to Get Hired at Google, Facebook, Amazon, and More)

Soft skills are personal characteristics that enable a person to interact easily with other people.

How to overcome this challenge: Practice building your soft skills while in school. Find opportunities to present on topics that interest you. Write a blog about your experience in the U.S. Apply to lead a club on campus (after you have settled into campus life!). Help out a startup on non-technical project. Create events that bring people together. Then talk about these activities to future employers. Include them in your resume and cover letter. Talk about the work you did to build these skills during interviews.

Need help with your search? Apply to our H1B Accelerator Program for international students who want to work in the US. 

How to Find a Job as an International Student

The international student job search would be so much easier if there was a platform which only listed international student jobs. Unfortunately there isn’t a platform (though there is a list of 250 companies that sponsor H1B visas)

As an international student your job search is an adventure. Like any good adventure, your job search is full of surprises. You’ll meet interesting people (and maybe a few boring people). You will overcome obstacles. You’ll visit new places. You’ll get new skills. And you’ll do it all without knowing exactly what the outcome will be.

For any new adventure it helps to have a few tools to help you navigate. The map below is the ultimate tool for your job search. It helps take the mystery out of the job search process. Use it as a guide to help you through the steps of finding H1B jobs in the US.

How to Find International Student Jobs

How to find international student jobs

The path for international student jobs

Learn the visa rules

Know the limitations and process for obtaining CPT, OPT, OPT extension and H-1B work authorization. Learn this information before you begin. A well-informed job seeker is more successful.

Build a target list

You discover so many interesting companies in your job search. Get organized by making a spreadsheet of companies that interest you. Each time you learn about a cool company put it on your list. As you progress in your job search, add details: deadlines, contact information, and contacts who you want to talk to.

Confirm if the company sponsors 

Since there is no database for international student jobs, the best resource is myvisajobs.com. Use their database to learn if the company has petitioned for an H-1B. If a company is in this database, it is an indicator that it is open to sponsoring for H-1B. Use the database to find out which positions a company is most likely to sponsor for (hint: not all companies sponsor for every position).

How to find h1b jobs

Using myvisajobs.com to learn about H1B jobs

Set up keyword search alerts 

Discover interesting opportunities and companies using the “saved search” feature on job search websites. Indeed.com and LinkedIn.com both have saved search features that email you recent job openings. Use keywords that relate to your academic study: “marketing intern undergraduate” or “cloud computing security entry-level”

Research roles

When you’re new to a country you have a lot to learn about job types. Research opportunities that match your experience level. If you have no work experience, target entry-level roles. If you are a career changer, target mid-level or (jr) associate level jobs. Track the skills and requirements for each job to know what you need to stand out to employers. In the U.S., having a degree is not enough to qualify you for a job. You need skills and experience.

Finding entry level international students jobs

Finding entry level jobs on LinkedIn

Create a professional story

You meet a lot of people in the job search. Those people want to know about you. You can’t get hired if you can’t talk about your professional interests. Learn how to create a professional story that shows people that you’re curious and motivated. Creating a professional story shows you’re serious about your job search.  

Customize your professional documents

Resumes, cover letters, and LinkedIn profiles: these are your professional documents. They need to be error-free and communicate your interests, experience, and skills to employers. Learning to write them is a skill. Write a personalized resume and cover letter for each job. You won’t get hired if you submit a generic resume. In a Career Builder survey, 58% of employers said a typo mistake would make them dismiss a candidate. 36% said they wouldn’t consider a candidate who submitted a generic resume. Pro tip: Get feedback from your career services office.

Get experience outside of the classroom 

International student jobs

What employers want in candidates; Source: NACE Job Outlook Survey 2016

Academic experience by itself doesn’t qualify you for international student jobs (neither does the brand name of your school). Employers want you to have experience, even if you’re an undergraduate who has never worked before. Companies hire international students who have experience, skills, and academic studies. While you are in school, get experience working or volunteering to build skills. Here are some examples of how to build skills while in school:

  • Lead a club
  • Host a conference
  • Participate in a real-world project
  • Build a website or app
  • Tutor other students
  • Teach a class
  • Write a blog post
  • Produce a video series on a topic that interests you
  • Launch a social media campaign

Talk about your career interests (and ask for advice)

People can’t help you if you don’t tell them what interests you. When you get to know people, talk to them about your career interests. Visit your career services office. Tell your coach what industries or subjects interest you. Tell your friends, host family, and people you meet during activities. Avoid asking people for international student jobs. Instead, tell people your professional interests. Visit your favorite professor during office hours. Ask them for advice about the job search. It’s as simple as saying “I’m studying finance and I’m really interested in the fintech industry. I’d like to build apps for a bank. Do you have any advice?”

Hang out with Americans

American employers hire for fit. Fit means that they want to work with people who:

  • are curious about their organization
  • add value to teams
  • are enjoyable to be around (after all, you will be spending 40+ hours a week together if hired!)

To fit in at a company, you need a good understanding of American culture. Learn as much as you can about slang, small talk, humor, communication style, cultural differences in how different cultures work by hanging out with Americans while in school. Join a club with a lot of Americans. Attend their parties. Invite American students to dinner at your house (hanging out over food = instant friendships!).

Talk to alumni (especially international student alumni working in the U.S.)

One of the benefits of attending school is the alumni network. Alumni are students from your school who have already graduated.Most alumni enjoy talking to current students, like you. They want to help. After all, they were once a student like you and understand your experience. They give advice. Alumni help you understand the companies they work in. Ask your career services office if they have a list of international students working in the U.S. Another way to find international alumni is to search on LinkedIn. Then reach out to the contact and ask for an informational interview.

Find an inside connection

The average open position online receives over 200 resumes. Only 2% of those applications are invited to interview. Translation: it is very difficult to get noticed in the application process without an inside connection. It’s harder for international students because employers are nervous about hiring you. As an international student job seeker, you need people who can advocate for you. In the US, the #1 method that employers use to find qualified candidates is employee referrals. An employee referral is when a current employee recommends a candidate (like you!) who they think is a good fit for the job. To get referred, you need to build relationships with people inside the companies where you want to work. Build relationships by conducting informational interviews.

Mock Interview

Once you are invited to an interview, prepare for the opportunity. Mock interviews are a practice interviews. They help you practice answering common interview questions. Get feedback on your interview style and gain confidence. Your career services office offers mock interviews. Schedule one before your interview.


Interviews are a chance for you to share your experience, curiosity, and passion. American employers want to hear about your accomplishments, even as a student. Talk about the work you have done outside of the classroom. Ask smart questions about their company and the role you want to work in. Students who get hired are the ones who are the most prepared. Use websites like glassdoor.com to learn about company interview questions and processes. Prepared students know how to answer the question “Why do you want to work for us?” and “What interests you about this role?”


Starting a job in a foreign country is an important life step. Don’t be afraid to negotiate your salary. Use career reports from your school or websites like transparentcareer.com to research salaries. Learn as much as you can about benefits Americans gets from U.S. employers. Look up estimate taxes in your state.

And some final advice…

Avoid assumptions about international student jobs

It’s easy to make assumptions about international student employment. Rejection and misinformation makes it feel like there are no jobs for international students. Yet in 2017, 55% of employers were open to hiring international students in the U.S. The trick is finding the right companies that are a match for you. It takes time, connections, practice, and a bit of luck.

Stay open to all opportunities 

Your job search should be filled with curiosity. When you start talking to people and learning about their interests, you start finding opportunities. Those opportunities may not fit with your plan. But nothing is guaranteed in your U.S. job search. So be flexible and open. If you hear about an opportunity in a country outside the U.S, embrace your curiosity. You’re at the beginning of a global career! Explore global rotation programs, jobs in international startup hubs, and opportunities in other countries where the work authorization process is less strict (like Canada).

Practice persistence and patience when searching for international student jobs

The international student job search is like a rollercoaster. There are moments where you are up high and everything goes right, like getting a call from a hiring manager for an interview. There are moments where you are down, like getting rejected. Students who succeed in the job search keep going when they face rejection. If they don’t see opportunities that are a fit, they are patient for future opportunities. Sometimes it means waiting a few months (even as other friends get jobs.) They persist in talking to people who interest them, talking about their career goals, and practicing new behaviors. If one opportunity doesn’t work out, they shift to the next thing and pursue new leads.

Embrace the roller coaster and you will find international student jobs!


Want help finding companies that hire international candidates?

Learn more here.

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Finding companies that hire international students

“What are the companies that hire international students?” It’s the first question at the start of every international student’s search in the U.S. Finding companies that hire international students and offer H1B job opportunities is a tough task. The data on companies who petition the government for H1B visas is publicly available. But it’s not always easy to find.

Is there a master list of companies that hire international students?

Technically there is no master list of companies that hire international students. The publicly available data isn’t a list of companies that received the H1B visa. There’s only a database of companies that have submitted petitions for an H1B visas on behalf of their international candidates. If a company intends to hire an international candidate they must petition the government for the H1B visa. This data is a good indication that a company is open to sponsoring international students. There is now a Top 250 List of Companies that Hire International Students for purchase at GlobalMe School.

How to find companies that hire international students

List of companies that hire international students

If you don’t feel like paying for the full 250 list, you can take a mini-course to help you use the database, myvisajobs.com to find which companies sponsor: How to Find Companies that Offer H1B Sponsorship

Take this course and you’ll learn:

  • A brief overview of the H-1B process
  • Which companies offer international student employment
  • The most in demand jobs among companies that sponsor
  • The top cities where employers sponsor
  • How to find out if your dream company sponsors

The course is on-demand which means you can access it any time you need it. Also, it’s free!
how to find companies hiring international students

How to find jobs for international students

Finding international student career opportunities takes time. Start by building a list of companies that sponsor. Once you have a list search for entry-level opportunities for college students (or mid-career for graduate students) on their website. When you see a job opening, search mysvisajobs.com  to see if the company has sponsored for that role in the past. If you see that position in the database (or that occupation type), it is likely the company will consider an international student.

Depending on your university, your career services office may keep a list of companies that hire international students. Lists often include the type of role the students was hired for. MBA programs report their employment data to a national body for rankings information. MBA programs usually have a list of companies that hired international students.

Some universities produce employment reports. For example, MIT’s Master of Finance program, a program with 90% international students, produces an employment report each year. While it doesn’t include a section on OPT job opportunities, it does provide a list of companies that hired MFIN graduates.

Companies hiring international students

Ask your career services department for a list of companies that have hired international students. Or search other university career services websites to find their employment reports.

Reminder: Just because a company sponsors international students doesn’t mean it will sponsor for all jobs

A company’s decides to sponsor an international student when it has a business need. If a company has enough applications from American employees, a company is less likely to hire an international student. Companies are most open to H1B sponsorship for candidates applying to these positions:

  • Software Developers
  • Computer Systems Analysts and Programmers
  • Management Analysts
  • Accountants And Auditors
  • Network And Computer Systems Administrators
  • Mechanical Engineers
  • Financial Analysts
  • Database Administrators

These are the most popular positions that employers have sponsored in the past. However, it doesn’t mean a marketing major or designer can’t get an H1B job. It just means fewer employers are willing to sponsor for those roles (and they are a harder to find as there are fewer of them). According to myvisajobs.com, Calvin Klein filed H1B petitions for 3 designers last year. IDEO, one of the top innovation and design consulting firms in the world, filed H1B petitions for 7 communication designers and 49 for interaction designers. Compare that to Amazon, who filed 1,125 petitions for applications software developers.

Reminder #2: The international student job search is like finding a needle in the haystack

There’s a popular idiom in the English language: it’s like finding a needle in a haystack. It means that something is extremely hard to find.  Finding a company that hires international students is extremely hard to find. It’s the needle in the haystack. You can do it though!


Explore the course

Top 250 Companies that Hire International Students

International Student Job Search Guide: A Resource for F1 Visa Students

Searching for a job or internship as a new F1 visa student is a challenge. The international student job search is full of unknowns and unwritten rules. The International Student Job Search Guide helps new you understand the basics of the job search. It explains how and when to apply to companies. It also includes resume tips for international students, cover letter writing tips, and networking advice for international students.  It will help you understand the basics so you can start your CPT or OPT job search with the right information.

Here are a few parts of the guide to get you started.

Understanding Employers

International student job search what employers want

(source: NACE Employer Survey 2016)

The first step in understanding the international student internship or job search is understanding what employers want. To get noticed by employers international students must demonstrate the qualities above. When employers read your resume, they need to see examples of:

  • Leadership
  • Teamwork
  • Communication skills (written and spoken)
  • Problem-solving

If you don’t have experience in those areas, use your time as a student to get experience. Use the framework above to work on projects that give you the skills employers want:

  • Ability to communicate
  • Ability to obtain and process information
  • Ability to work in a team structure
  • Ability to make decisions and solve problems
  • Ability to organize and prioritize work

Understanding the International Student Job Search Timeline

Time spent in the international student job search

The international student internship and job search takes between 6-9 months. It takes so long because you are new to the experience. If you don’t have U.S. work experience, confidence with English and American culture, professional friends (i.e. a network), and good written communication skills, you will need time to work on these skills. Your job search is more than submitting resumes online. You will spend most of your timing talking to people about their career interests (and yours), writing people to ask for their advice, and researching opportunities.

Understanding the Application Process

International student job

Many international students start the job search by applying to as many jobs as possible with one resume. This is the least effective method to find a job in the US. The average job post receives over 200 resumes. Only 2% are invited to interview. As an international student without US work experience, you will not get called because there is too much competition. No matter if you are looking for a CPT or OPT, you need to follow a different framework. You need to:

  1. Research opportunities, like which companies hire international students
  2. Create error-free resume, cover letters, LinkedIn profiles, personal websites and/or online portfolios
  3. Communicate your professional story to new people that you meet
  4. Interact with business professionals who can give you an inside contact or advice (most important step)
  5. Apply to the job only when you know why you want to work for the company

Find the complete guide here.