How does all of this affect the education of our international students in the U.S?
Well, there are perhaps two ways to try to answer the question of how the current H-1B situation affects our international students. Let’s first keep the following in mind: when the U.S government grants one of our international students a student visa (typically an F-1 or a J-1 visa) to come the U.S. to pursue an MBA or an MS degree, for example, no promise whatsoever is made to the visa applicant that he or she may have a chance to stay and work in the United States after graduation. In fact, a student visa is a non-immigrant visa. The U.S government thinks you’re going to go home after graduation. If fact, you are granted an F-1 visa because the consular office thought you’d return home, that you had no intention of immigrating to the U.S.
So if you analyze the situation under these lenses you could say that that the H-1B program does not affect the education of our international students. After all, they were granted permission to enter the U.S to obtain an education. That’s it.
But then there’s the reality that you, myself, and everyone in academia knows exists: many of our international students want to stay here and work after graduation. That is the ultimate prize for many. Some U.S employers want our international students to stay and work, too. A variety of U.S. employers from a variety of different industries year after year extend job offers to our international students despite the so-called risks associated with not being able to secure a visa. Why do U.S employers go through the trouble of hiring international students despite visa costs, bureaucracy, etc.? Do they do this out of the kindness of their hearts? No, firms hire our international students because they see something special in them. International students get hired out of necessity, and that is something our international students must always keep in mind when job searching – at all times, by the way. They should never lose site of this. International students receive job offers often because they are able to address an employer need in a manner that perhaps a domestic candidate is not able to. There is a labor shortage in the U.S. in several areas, and many international students are able to fill this gap.
What are the timing challenges between the visa process and graduation schedule of most U.S universities?
Well, I am happy to speak about this but with much caution because I am not an immigration attorney. The following is intended as general information and should be not substituted for advice from an attorney. Let’s say you are a second-year international MBA student on an F-1 visa. Let’s imagine you received a job offer in the fall of your second year as an MBA. So essentially, you have a job. Awesome news! This is a great situation for an international student to be in. No major stress as a second-year. Things could maybe get even better if you can complete all of your course work for your degree before the current April 1 filing deadline for H-1B visas during your second year.
So in this scenario, maybe you will hustle as an MBA student and complete all of your coursework needed to graduate in the winter, for example, or at some point before April 1. In this case, it does not matter if your university does not hold graduation until May or June. Essentially, you have graduated. The commencement ceremony is a formality. So in this particular case, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration may be willing to accept your H-1B application while you’re still in school. Typically, one needs to submit a letter from a school official confirming that you have indeed completed all requirements for the degree, even though you don’t have your diploma yet. So in this case, the firm that offered you a job may have a chance to apply for your H-1B while you’re still in school.