Frequently Asked Career Questions by International Students

Dreama Johnson

Should I list my visa status or permanent address on my resume?

You are not required to include your visa status or your permanent address on your resume.  Many international students opt to use their current or UVA-specific address on their resume instead of their permanent address.  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.

However, because bias exists, if you are a green card holder or U.S. citizen and have a name that employers may perceive as indicating you are an international student, you may want to consider including your immigration or citizenship status on your resume to indicate that you are already legally authorized to work in the U.S.

How should I respond to questions on the job application?

Always answer truthfully when responding to questions about your work authorization on a job application.  If you are unsure of how to respond due to the wording of the question, please reach out to both the International Studies Office and the Career Center for clarification. This is the most commonly asked question:

  • Are you legally authorized to work in the U.S.?  If you are on an F-1 visa, your answer is yes because you eligible to use either CPT or OPT, which authorizes you to work in the U.S. for specific period of time.

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)

As a student with an F-1 visa searching for full-time work, how do I answer when asked about my work authorization?

Start by explaining that you have legal authorization to work in the U.S. for 12 months on OPT (STEM majors working in STEM fields will have up to 36-months available). OPT does not require any financial commitment or obligation from the employer.

When in the hiring process should I disclose that I’m an international student?

This is a very sensitive question which needs to be assessed on a case-by-case basis. While some employers adhere to strict policies against hiring foreign nationals, others may prefer to hire U.S. citizens, but can be otherwise convinced. Some employers, typically larger multinational companies, are hosting information sessions for international students to share their hiring practices. During these sessions, employer are sharing that they are not hiring international students in their U.S. offices, but are open to helping connect you with recruiters in their offices overseas. While this may be discouraging, many of these companies are being upfront so that you do not waste your time when you could be pursuing other companies. 

While some companies are changing their hiring practices, others are still open or can be convinced of the benefits of hiring an international student.  Therefore, with some companies you may want to make it your goal to get past the initial screening measures to the interview. On the other hand, you should broach the subject before the employer has spent a significant amount of time and money trying to recruit you. It is usually recommended that students address the issue of their work status during the first or second interview, but no later than the time of the job offer.

If a company says they do not hire international students, should I even apply?

Outside of companies who are hosting information sessions to share about their hiring practices of international students as described above, sometimes when employers say they don't hire international students it means that they haven't hired any international students yet. In order to convince these prospective employers, it is your responsibility to educate them about the process of hiring a foreign national. Be mindful that they still may not hire you, and this can be frustrating. It is recommended that you first target organizations with a history of hiring employees on a work visa.

What steps can I take to enhance my candidacy?

  • Get your resume and cover letters reviewed by a Career Center counselor, employer, and/or alumni

  • Become thoroughly familiar with immigration regulations and benefits attached to your visa status – visit the International Studies Office for detailed information

  • Research the employers and the positions in which you are interested

  • Participate in a mock interview

  • Practice speaking confidently about your skills, interests, and career goals, and articulate in the interview how your international experiences make you uniquely qualified

  • If you need to, improve your English skills by participating in class discussions, making presentations, and expanding your circle of native English speaking associates