The Collegian
Friday, August 14, 2020

Job search a race for international students facing visa constraints

Graduating international students hoping to work in the United States have 90 days after graduation to land jobs before their visas fall out of status.

But with the option of extending their visas, this does not mean they have to go home, and it does not mean deportation.

Krittika Onsanit, director of international studies at the University of Richmond, said there were 243 international students currently enrolled at Richmond, 36 of whom were graduating in May.

A good portion of the graduating international students will be attending American graduate schools, Onsanit said, and weren't dealing with the urgency of having to find jobs.

As long as a foreign student remains enrolled in school, he or she lives under the standards of a student visa, which won't expire until that person is finished with his or her education.

Roux Dionissieva, a senior from Bulgaria, is hoping to find a marketing and advertising job near Richmond.

Although Dionissieva knows returning to Bulgaria is a possibility if she does not find work, she said she was not that worried because she could apply for an OPT (Optional Practical Training).

An OPT is an online form for international students wanting to extend their visas for another year.

In the unfortunate circumstance that an international student does not find a job three months after graduation, he or she can apply for an OPT instead of returning home.

"I definitely won't be deported, that sounds too serious," Dionissieva said. "I know I have to go back to Bulgaria if I don't find work in three months--you only have so many days of unemployment. But I would not call it deportation."

Rafael Huaman, a senior from Lima, Peru, agrees with Dionissieva. "Deportation is a very harsh and dramatic way of saying it," Huaman said. "It implies we would be punished for not finding jobs."

Huaman, however, has secured a job in New York as a technology risk consultant for Deloitte--an audit, financial advisory, tax and consulting company--but said the job search "put me through a lot."

Enjoy what you're reading?
Signup for our newsletter

Huaman said it was easy for his friends to deal with having to go home if they didn't find jobs. "But for me," Huaman said, "home is very far away."

Job or no job, a recurring theme among Richmond international students is that nobody seems ready to go home.

Wadia Samadi, a senior from Afghanistan, will be one of the students attending graduate school.

The location of grad school for Samadi, however, will be anywhere but home. She has applied to schools in several countries including the U.S., Germany and Australia. Knowing seven languages fluently, Samadi said, "Surely wherever I end up, I will be happy."

Because of complications with the different semester structuring in other countries, Samadi will not begin graduate school until 2012. As of now, she said she was trying hard to find an internship in the States.

Semih Durmus, a senior from Istanbul, Turkey, landed a job as a financial service adviser for Ernst & Young, one of the world's largest professional services firms.

He said his job search had been nothing short of stressful, and he talked about the relief he felt when he was offered a job. "After 15 years of school and studying," Durmus said, "everything pays off with one phone call."

Durmus said he hoped to work for Ernst & Young for a couple of years, receive his MBA from an Ivy League school and then pursue consulting or banking in the U.S.

Several international students said they hoped to stay in America to build their careers after graduation, and agreed the States offered more job opportunities related to their degrees than their home countries.

"I think I always wanted to work in America," Dionissieva said. "I got my degree here, so it's most applicable here."

Huaman said, "The path to my desired career is here in America."

Several Richmond international students said they came from families who supported their decisions to stay and work in America; many didn't deny the possibility of one day becoming American citizens.

Support independent student media

You can make a tax-deductible donation by clicking the button below, which takes you to our secure PayPal account. The page is set up to receive contributions in whatever amount you designate. We look forward to using the money we raise to further our mission of providing honest and accurate information to students, faculty, staff, alumni and others in the general public.

Donate Now