Handshake Changes for International Students

Dreama Johnson

Handshake allows international students to determine if they wish to reveal their work authorization status to employers as a means to determine if a student is qualified to apply for a position within Handshake.  

If you wish to share it, Handshake will now collect work authorization information directly from you, the student, during the job application process to increase transparency for employers and improve the application experience for you. Prior to submitting your first job application or joining a career fair event, you will be prompted with the options below:

  • OPTION 1 is to answer these questions: Are you legally authorized to work in the United States?  Will you now or in the future require visa sponsorship?
  • OPTION 2 is to not provide any information: Prefer not to answer these questions.

We understand this brings up many questions and we want to help you think through what is the best course of action for you.  Please review the section below and do not hesitate to reach out to the Career Center or the Career Centers in your affiliated school to make sure you select the option best for you.

How should I respond to these questions?

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 international student applicants, others may prefer to hire U.S. citizens, but can be otherwise convinced if you are the right candidate for the position.  You will need to reflect on the types of organizations you are pursuing to determine how best to proceed. Here are the benefits for each option:

  • Option 1: Answering “Are you legally authorized to work in the United States?/Will you now or in the future require visa sponsorship?”: If you decide to answer the first two questions about your work status, Handshake will determine that you are “Not fully qualified” to apply for positions that require U.S. Citizenship or Permanent Residence and will also prevent you from registering for virtual career fair sessions with employers who restrict based on work authorization.  The benefit of this is that it can help you to determine more quickly which companies are most open so that you can be strategic with your time in seeking out employers who are more open to international student applicants.
  • Option 2: Answering “Prefer not to answer these questions.”: If you decide to not respond to the questions, Handshake will determine that you are “Fully Qualified” for postings regardless of the employer’s need/ability to hire international student applicants.  The benefit of this option is that you have the possible opportunity to convince an employer of the value and ease of hiring you. As mentioned above, there are employers who may prefer to hire U.S. citizens, but could also be convinced to change their policies to hire an international student.   Often times these are smaller companies and/or start-ups, companies who are new to recruiting at UVA and unfamiliar with visa sponsorship and companies that do not have a formal internship program with the goal of converting their interns to full-time.

Regardless of how you choose to respond, be sure to visit Handshake for a list of employers who have hired international students in recent years: https://app.joinhandshake.com/articles/9465  Additionally Career Center staff are available to reach out to employers anonymously to understand their hiring practices when it comes to international student applicants.

Can I edit these fields after I’ve submitted them the first time?

Yes, a student can edit these fields on their profile at any point. Once inside of Handshake, select your name and then “Settings & Privacy” and look for “Work Authorization” where you can update your responses.

What will happen to my applications that were submitted before this update?

  • If you update these values on your profile or as a part of the job application process or when registering for a virtual career fair sessions then Handshake will use the new work authorization mapping for positions for which you have already applied.

  • If you have not updated these values, your previous applications should not be impacted.

Can an employer see my status? If not, what information can they access?

The UVA Career Center does not pre-populate any student’s citizenship or visa status information for employers to view within Handshake.  Your work authorization/visa status is always hidden from employers. By responding to these new questions, you are only determining whether or not you are fully qualified to apply for a position or to meet with an employer in a virtual career fair session.  If you decide to opt out of answering the question, you will continue to appear as fully qualified for all positions and any virtual career fair sessions and the employer will continue to not see your visa status. 

Regardless of how I respond to the questions above, can I still filter my job/internship search to see only employers open to hiring international students?

Yes.  Handshake has enhanced the filters in the job search section so that you can filter by Work Authorization.  After selecting "Jobs" and then "All filters," you now have two options to filter your search by: "Will sponsor or doesn't require US work visa" and "Accepts OPT/CPT." While this search feature is helpful, do remember that even though there are employers who may prefer to hire U.S. citizens, sometimes the same employers can also be convinced to change their policies to hire an international student.