4 Essential Resources for International Students Seeking Work Visas

I was one of 250 creative college students, recent grads and professionals who came to this month’s groundbreaking Find Passion and Follow Your Passion conference.  It was one of the best Saturdays I’ve had since moving to New York, and I left the conference feeling much inspired and motivated to listen to my heart and find passion in everything I do.

Originally coming from Vietnam, I graduated in December from Seattle University and currently I work as a media planner in New York.  I was surprised and delighted to meet many international students and professionals coming from all different parts of the world at the event.  In fact, I was very grateful to have met Manuel Toscano, who came to the US 25 years ago and is now a National Director of Social Engagement at AIGA. Likewise, I’m thankful to have met Kanupriya Dhoot, who came to the US for her MBA and is now working as an Online Marketing Manager at Getty Images. They were a part of the following conference panels: Transitioning to the Top and Breaking Into Your Industry.

NY Creative Interns International Visa

Image Courtesy of Thinkstock

We discussed how to get a visa to work  in the US after graduation.  For internationals, finding a job can be challenging because an employer must become your visa sponsor and file a work visa petition on your behalf.  The various types of visas include: H1B Visa, H2B Visa, TN Visa, L Visa, O1 Visa and R1 Visa, and the most common for American sponsorship is H1B visa. Manuel and Kanupriya shared the following advice.

How international students can go about securing employment in the US

  1. Find out which companies have sponsored H1B visa for international students in the past.  You can search for these companies here.
  2. Because H1B is designed only for specialty occupations and for employees who have the appropriate credentials for the job, it is recommended to get jobs that are already qualified for H1B visa sponsorship.  Click here to see the list.
  3. Note: the list does not include many  liberal arts or creative jobs, however don’t lose hope. Manuel’s personal experience involved a visa transfer.  He shares, “More companies are willing to hire you if you already have a visa because visa transfer is easier.”
  4. Know when H1B cap will be closed so that your employer will not miss the chance to apply. There is no defined deadline date by when your employer can apply for your visa because the US government accepts H1B petitions until the H1B visa cap is complete. Based on the latest April 23rd H1B Visa 2013 Cap count Update, this year’s cap will be complete by July 22, 2012. So if you want to work in the US for 2013, you have to find a company to sponsor you before July 2012.

Working visas are a very complicated process that require much strategic planning and ample time management.  The good thing is, we can start preparing in advance and not feel discouraged or discover unexpected things along the way.

To me, the effort is worth it because having diverse working experiences puts me at an advantage with long term career goals. Above all: don’t give up on interning or working in the US or New York City.

Are you an international student with questions or stories about your experiences? Feel free to leave a comment or find me via Twitter or email me at hoa@hoado.net.  I look forward to becoming new friends.

About the Author

Hoa is a recent Strategic Communications grad from Seattle University. Coming from Vietnam, Hoa lived in the Czech Republic for 8 years. Hoa is passionate about advertising and broadcasting industry. Follow Hoa on twitter @Hoaska.

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