International students seeking employment opportunities criticized the Cawley Career Education Center’s Sept. 15 Career Fair for a perceived lack of employers that sponsored work visas for students interested in working in the United States after graduation.
Of the 103 companies listed on the Career Center’s website participating in the event, 38 claimed to offer visa sponsorships, 23 reportedly accepted candidates who possessed a valid student visa and the remaining 52 required proof of permanent work authorization from international applicants.
But upon arriving at the fair, international students realized that the list was inaccurate. Some companies that apparently sponsored work visas denied that they did so, while others that indicated they did not claimed otherwise.
Ingrid Glitz (SFS ’18), an international student from Brazil who is leading a crowdsourcing effort to petition additional information and resources for international students, said she was frustrated by the confusing information and the inconveniences international students had to go through to find out which employers might support them.
“When we got there, some of the companies were mad, actually. Some said they didn’t but they did, and some of the companies said that they did sponsor visas but they didn’t,” Glitz said. “So, the list was not completely correct.”
Glitz recounted her experiences and outlined her concerns and suggestions the next day through a post in a Georgetown Class of 2018 Facebook group. She also wrote that she wanted the support of other international students in presenting a letter to the university highlighting these issues and suggested improvements.
“Together with a group of other international students on campus, I want to write an official letter to the school complaining about the lack of support for students on an F-1 visa and suggesting some measures that they should take to help us out more when it comes to finding jobs,” Glitz wrote in the Facebook post.
As of press time, 191 students, both American and international, had signed onto the letter.
To work in the United States, international students with valid student visas but without permanent work authorization must first obtain an extension to their stay in the United States before they secure a job with an employer who sponsors their work visa by representing them in the application process.
Still, even international students who already possess permanent work authorization may only seek employment with companies that accept their permit.
Cawley Center Executive Director Mike Schaub said the Career Center had anticipated the companies attending the fair would be transparent about their work visa policies.
“It is our expectation that that employers who indicate that they hire international students actually communicate this fact during the fair,” Schaub wrote in an email to The Hoya.
Glitz said some recruiters were not even aware if their companies sponsored visas.
“International students were basically going from one booth to another and having to wait in line for 20 minutes and then just start with a question that is not the most sympathetic question ever, just like, ‘Are you going to sponsor me?’ Glitz said.
Schaub acknowledged the difficulties that international students face when searching for jobs and called for a more coordinated response from the university and recruiters alike.
“We understand the unique challenges experienced by international students who are engaged in the job search process,” Schaub wrote. “There is a need for intentional efforts across the university to assist students, and for recruiters to be more informed about employing students with visas.”
Though Glitz did not attribute any responsibility to the Career Center for the low number of visa-sponsoring employers in attendance, she said hiring an adviser that worked directly with international students could help international students better navigate an at-times complex process.
“The immigration system is not helpful. I just think that the Cawley Career Center could be doing a better job,” Glitz said.
“They should have a person specific for international students, at least one person, like they have one person specific for law school. Because I think that we have a very specific scenario that they should be aware of.”
The Career Center offers resources to support international students, including workshops for networking and interviewing and digital platform PassportCareer for job searching, according to Schaub.
“The Cawley Career Education Center sees first hand the incredible talent represented by our international students through our daily interactions with these students,” Schaub wrote. “We want to make sure that employers recognize this talent pool and are informed about navigating the hiring process for students with visas.”
Glitz said finding employment as an international student is a struggle few others understand.
“It’s very frustrating that no one knows how hard it is to get a job here as a foreigner,” Glitz said. “People just assume because the U.S. is the ‘country of immigrants’ that it is going to be so easy for all of us to get a job here.”