Challenges and Misconceptions for International Students

UVA Career Center – July 8th, 2015

This information is designed to assist you, the international student, with the job search process. This guide is particularly targeted towards students in F-1 or J-1 visa status.  However, other foreign nationals or those with newly acquired American citizenship may find some of the information included to be both relevant and useful.  

In addition to this content, international students should also contact the International Studies Office (ISO) before seeking any form of employment (paid or unpaid) whether as a student or in preparation for graduation so that you are aware of all applicable restrictions, requirements and deadlines.  Remember it is your responsibility to connect with ISO to obtain the most current information as the rules are constantly changing.  

There are challenges you as an international student face when conducting a job search in the U.S.  Some commonly experienced challenges are listed below.  Many of these are employer misconceptions that you can help to change as you begin your own job search.

  • Visa Quotas: Because work in the U.S. is not guaranteed, nor promised, to international students entering the country on a student visa and quotas are set on the number of skilled foreign workers legally permitted in the country you may experience challenges trying to find employment. 
  • Hiring Complexities: Employers are unfamiliar with the process of hiring an international student and therefore believe it to be complicated and expensive.
  • Lack of Commitment to the Job:  Employers fear that international students will return to their home country after a year or two and are reluctant to invest time and resources into training them.
  • Communication: Employers are concerned about international students’ ability to communicate effectively in verbal and written English with their clients and internal personnel.
  • Employment Restrictions:  In general, as an international student you cannot work for the U.S. federal government, for most U.S. state and local government agencies or for private companies contracted by the government.  That said, your visa status will be less of an absolute barrier with other industries and employers.