International Students

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International students bring a wealth of wisdom and life experience to UCSB from across the globe. As an international student, you have access to services that help you discover options for your career, gain experience to prepare for the future, get hired for internships and jobs, and explore graduate school for further education.

Career Services supports you in uncovering your career goals throughout your journey at UCSB. Whether you are seeking assistance with planning for work opportunities within the U.S. or beyond, we are here to help.

 

 

Key Campus Resources @ UCSB

Provided by the Office of International Students and Scholars (OISS) for currently enrolled students.
 

Get Hired: International Students

For complete information on job search strategies, resumes, cover letters, LinkedIn, interviews, and more, review our starter tips to Get Hired in all careers as well as the specialized tips on this page.

Initial Tips

International students are considered a valuable part of the talent pool in this global economy and provide unique benefits to employers including diversity, global perspectives, resilience, and more. However, navigating the employment process in the United States can feel confusing and unfamiliar for both international students and employers. We are here to help you to obtain some of the fundamental strategies to better navigate this process. 
 

Additional Tips for Graduate Students

If you are an international graduate student, there are additional considerations that are important to know about. Click below for more information.

Most tenure-track employment positions will be accommodated by an H-1B visa. The H-1B non-immigrant visa is an employment-based visa category intended for temporary employment in the United States for positions that are considered “Specialty Occupation,” that is, the job description must require a Bachelor’s degree at a minimum and the employee must meet the minimum requirements for the position.

The H-1B visa request is submitted to USCIS by the employer and includes a requirement for a certification from the United States Department of Labor, so the process of preparing an H-1B petition can take several weeks. Unlike employers in industry, academic institutions are not subject to the H-1B “cap,” (a limitation on the number of H-1B applications that will be accepted per fiscal year). H-1B visa status may be requested for up to three years at a time, and H-1B status may be held for no longer than six years, continuously. 

Employees with full-time teaching appointments may be eligible to apply for an employer-sponsored green card, through PERM Labor Certification in the EB2 category. Tenure-track employees may be eligible to apply for a green card through the EB1-B, (“Outstanding Professor or Researcher”) category. Both of these categories establish green card eligibility through sponsorship of the employer, so eligibility/sponsorship is dependent on the individual employer’s practices. Alternate routes to obtaining a green card would be through self-sponsorship or family sponsorship. Please talk with an OISS advisor for more information.

Post-Doc careers, depending on the employer and funding source, may be accommodated by a J-1 Exchange Visitor visa or by the H-1B visa. Some employers use the J-1 visa category as the only or preferred category for Post-Doc employees. The J-1 research scholar category has a five-year limitation, and J-1 exchange visitors may become subject to the two-year home residence requirement, depending on their home country, subject area, and funding source(s). If subject to this requirement, the exchange visitor would either need to fulfill the requirement or obtain a waiver in order to be eligible to hold H-1B status or to obtain a green card, or to file a change of status from within the United States. 

The H-1B visa may be offered to Post-Doc employees, if they are on the payroll and if it is the employer’s practice to use H-1B visa status to accommodate Post-Doc appointments. Preparation and filing of the H-1B petition can take several months. H-1B status may be requested for up to three years at a time, and H-1B status may be held for up to six years continuously. Please talk with an OISS advisor for more information.

Job Application Questions

When you apply to jobs, there are a number of potential questions you may receive during the application process. Click below to review our tips when answering these questions.

  1. Allow adequate time in your job search, as securing a full-time position could take five to six months, and potentially longer depending on your field. Industries such as accounting, finance, and engineering may have competitive Fall deadlines for full-time positions. 
  2. Apply for work authorization. For help with OPT applications, F-1 students can go to OISS’s website for online tutorials and resources. J-1 Students can apply for Academic Training. If you have additional questions, go to OISS to discuss it. Submit your employment authorization paperwork at OISS when it is complete. 
  3. Be patient and manage your expectations. Obtaining internships and jobs takes time and preparation. Hiring an international candidate is also a complex process for employers, whether they are familiar or unfamiliar with the process. Start researching early so you understand what employers may be seeking and how you can benefit the organization.
     

As an international student, a common question you may have is when to inform a potential employer about your visa status. When employers ask you, you can explain that you are legally able to apply for your own work authorization with your university through your student visa at no cost to the employer. 

  • F-1 international students: The first hurdle typically comes when filling out an application and you answer “Yes” because you are eligible to work in the United States for up to 12 months (possible 24-month extension for STEM students). If there is a space for a comment on the application, a good response is, “I will have work authorization and am waiting to receive approval for OPT.” 
  • J-1 international students: You can answer similarly as an F-1 international student but the time in which you are available to work may differ and you must get permission from your program sponsor to work.

Answer the question according to your future plans. If you need H-1B sponsorship after OPT, then you should answer “Yes.” However, if you are not planning on staying in the United States, then you can answer “No.”

When answering questions on an application, we advise students to provide information that is honest and true. Once all application materials are received and you move through the traditional hiring/interview process, the next time your status will need to be discussed is during an offer. You may choose to share earlier in the interview process to explore the types of future support for H-1B visas if you are considering this. Use your best judgment and consider meeting with a career counselor for more individualized support to discuss strategies around sharing your status.

We strongly encourage you to get your written materials reviewed so that you can be a competitive candidate. Visit our Students page for an overview of our current services for assistance with Resumes, Cover Letters, and other application materials.

It is important to demonstrate excellent written communication skills within application materials. If you need grammatical assistance, please visit Campus Learning Assistance Services (CLAS).

Interviewing can be quite an intimidating process. Employers typically expect applicants to demonstrate excellent verbal communication skills during an interview.  When interviewing, focus on emphasizing the positives and advantages of hiring you. For example, you can talk about your global competency, adaptability, technical skills, or industry knowledge developed during your time at UCSB. 

Be able to communicate your skills and experiences in order to help employers understand the value of hiring you. Hiring great employees is a business decision for employers so it is up to you to convince international friendly employers to give you the opportunity. Show the employer your commitment and interest in working with them. 

Visit our Students page for our current services to receive assistance with Interviews and Offers.

As a UCSB student, you are welcome and encouraged to attend any career fair hosted by UCSB Career Services (see our Events page for details). Prior to the event, we recommend that you research employers that hire international students for internships or full-time positions. However, you are also encouraged to speak with other employers who interest you and ask if they are able to hire international students. Even if some employers cannot hire you right now, they may know of other employers who would benefit from a candidate like you. Your time at a career fair is well spent if you are able to obtain more industry-related information, make a connection with employers, and leave a positive impression on a potential contact.

Each employer has a unique set of needs. It is difficult to say with certainty whether small or mid-size employers will hire international students because some may be more flexible and willing to take a chance, while others may be highly unfamiliar with the process. On the other hand, large employers may be interested in hiring the best, most qualified applicant, as well as someone who can obtain a subsequent work visa after completion of practical training. 

You can visit MyVisaJobs or the US Citizenship and Immigration Services H-1B Employer Data Hub to see which companies have a history of sponsoring H-1B visas. Check out GoinGlobal to explore expert advice for finding jobs at home and abroad, including job search resources and information about country-specific career information. 

The United States federal government, national labs, and defense industries typically require a candidate to be a United States citizen or a permanent resident to be eligible for any job positions. State and/or local governments may have positions that are open to international candidates, and some states in the United States may be more willing to accept international applicants. 

Most importantly, do not limit your search. International students often limit their search to some of the most competitive cities which make the job search process incredibly intense. Be open to searching in less competitive cities and create alternative plans.

Obtain career advice from various sources. Our services provide a great starting point to get help with your career development and job search process. However, this does not need to be the only resource you utilize. Obtain career tips by talking to targeted connections such as alumni, industry professionals, and professors in your career field. 

Access your personal network (i.e., friends, family, family friends, faculty at UCSB and previous institutions, supervisors and co-workers, mentors, and alumni). Connecting with individuals who have gone through similar experiences and have navigated hiring processes as an international student could provide you with ideas and strategies for gaining experience and employment moving forward. You can find these individuals by attending events at UCSB such as international student career panels and events hosted by the International Students Association. Be sure to check out our LinkedIn page to learn how to connect with international alumni from UCSB.

Here are some books that we recommend for international students who are job searching: 

  • The International Advantage: Get noticed, get hired by Marcelo Barros*
  • 3 Steps to Your Job in the USA: International Student Edition by Steven Steinfeld*
  • 4 Weeks to Your American Dream Job by Michael Patrick Miller*
  • Power Ties: The International Student's Guide to Finding a Job in the United States - Revised and Updated by Dan Beaudry

*These books are available in the Career Resource Room (CRR) at Career Services.

Navigating Work Culture in the United States

There may be significant differences between employers’ expectations in the United States and the work culture in your home country. As an international student, it is important to learn these cultural differences and values to increase your chances of success during the job application process. Click below to explore this further.

Work Culture in the United States

  • Actively network with professionals, classmates, and alumni.
  • Avoid inserting personal information, such as age, gender, and pictures into resumes.
  • Avoid discussing religious beliefs with the employers (considered to be personal).
     

Work Culture in Some International Communities

  • Find job opportunities only through family contacts or friends.
  • Include pictures, gender, race, age, marital status, and religious information in the resumes.

Work Culture in the United States

  • Be open and respond to questions in a straightforward manner.
  • Be assertive and confident while discussing the skills and accomplishments.
     

Work Culture in Some International Communities

  • Be indirect when expressing personal opinions or answer questions.
  • Be modest while discussing skills and personal accomplishments.

Work Culture in the United States

  • Greet others professionally with a firm handshake (Pre-COVID-19).
  • Maintain eye contact with people from all authority levels.
  • Follow up with interviewers in a timely manner to send them a thank you note and ask about the application status.
     

Work Culture in Some International Communities

  • Use a greeting specific to the interviewer's culture when meeting.
  • Avoid direct eye contact with elders, hiring managers, and interviewers.
  • Wait for further notification, and never follow up with employers about the application status.