What Every International Student Should Know When Seeking Employment in the United States of America

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. 

Should I list my visa status on my resume?

Your visa status does not have to be included on your resume.  Your permanent address, educational background and work history will display that you are an international student.  Hiring managers should ask appropriate questions during the recruitment process to identify if you will require work authorization.  Always answer these questions honestly – whether in an application or in an interview.

Are there questions that are illegal for an employer to ask me? 

An employer MAY NOT ask:

  • What is your visa type, nationality, place of birth? or, Of which country are you a citizen?
  • What is your native language? or, What language do you most often speak?

An employer MAY ask:

  • Are you legally authorized to work in the United States? or, Will you now or in the future require sponsorship for an employment visa?  
  • Which languages do you read, speak or write? (provided that foreign language skills are job related)

What steps can I take to enhance my candidacy? 

  1. Develop a position specific resume(s) (resumes may differ depending on the position) and if necessary coverletter.  Visit the University Career Center and/or make an appointment with an advisor to get started
  2. Get your resumes and cover letters reviewed by a UVA Career Center counselor and if possible by an employer and/or alumni.  Continue to make any necessary revisions to your resume(s)
  3. Become thoroughly familiar with immigration regulations and benefits attached to your visa status – visit the International Studies Office for detailed information
  4. Research the employers and the positions in which you are interested
  5. Participate in a mock interview at the UVA Career Center
  6. Practice speaking confidently about your skills, interests and career goals in social arenas and events
  7. In the interview, articulate how your international experiences may make you a uniquely qualified candidate for a particular position at that company (research on the company and position is advised above) 
  8. If necessary, improve your English skills by speaking up in class, making presentations and expanding your circle of native English speaking friends.  These actions and experiences are integral to networking
  9. Attend Career Exploration Workshops (CEWs) at the Career Center to hone skills in networking, interviewing, and pursuing job opportunities