Deal with Immigration Questions as an International Student
Updated: May 16, 2019
A video clip from International Student Career Coaching and Immigration workshop with Attorney Art Serratelli at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln on August 11, 2017
You are authorized to work in the U.S. but it has never been easy for international students to get the questions like "Will you need work sponsorship in the future?" or "What would you do if you don't get H1-B visa next year?"
If this is your current situation, I'd like to make some recommendations on what you should do when experience immigration questions
Q) Hi Kwan, hope you had a nice weekend! Today, I received a call from a company that I applied. It was the first round. It is a medium sized company called [NAME]. The role was a media planner. The HR person directly said to me that if I didn't win H1B lottery next year, then the company was going waste the money on training me. What am I supposed to say?? OMG!! And sorry, because I felt so nervous, I forgot to ask what the training was!
First, I hope you were not the one who initiated the H1B visa discussion. International students should never ask for sponsorship in the job interviews. You have your OPT – it is your work authorization.
The fact is answering immigration questions is not a candidate's job. That sort of question should go to the immigration lawyer. You are there to present your qualifications and discuss how you can come in and help the team.
However, you must stay cool when hearing this kind of statements. You should focus on your career goal and passion to work with the company.
Here's a sample structure of responding to the immigration question
Start with positive statement
"This even makes me feel motivated and impressed about the company when I hear that you've invested in your people for their career development like training. 12 months from now, I'm sure I've contributed lots of values to the company. If the cost of the training is a lot, and there's a way that I can help contribute. I will be willing to accommodate to make the process is easy for you."
Help the recruiter get a better picture of your situation and direct him/her to the immigration lawyer
"Regarding the sponsorship in the future, as far as I've discussed this requirement with my attorney from my school, I understand that there are many options besides H1B to maintain my eligibility to work in the U.S. I can give you his number if you'd like to ask any immigration questions."
Ending with your career goals and what you can do
"Today, I really respect your time and appreciate that you are interested to learn more about my qualifications and how I can come in and help the company. I can walk you through the media planning process and my thoughts on what I can do on day one if I have an opportunity to work on this role."
No matter what, please avoid playing a submissive role in answering immigration questions, instead, you need to drive the results and make sure that the interview is about how you can contribute to the company at Day One – not about the future that hasn't come yet.
By the way, in the video, the student who said it might be easier for him to look for a job in Canada. Only a few months after attending my workshop, he received multiple job offers from many leading technology companies in the U.S. and he finally accepted a job offer at one of his dream companies located in San Francisco, CA. Woohooo!!!
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