I want to share few suggestions to all prospective students, especially those who want to study & work in USA. In terms of working in the USA after completing your degree, there are many restrictions that students get to know only after coming here. I have seen often times students only inquire about these their final semesters and start worrying. Know beforehand and decide if you really want to come here.
Canada is a better choice if you want to look for job hassle free and eventually become resident. Yes, the market is much bigger in USA but so are the restrictions, especially if you complete a technical degree in USA, recently there have been major changes.
Note: This post is not to discourage you about USA but for you to know all the restrictions that apply. Of course thousands of Bangladeshi students eventually make their ways in USA. But after reading the article, it is your decision to make if you want to fight through these concerns. I am also writing how to fight these. And I would encourage you to speak with students you know in USA who are on OPT and H1b already to reconfirm and get more ideas.
If you only want to study in USA and get back to Bangladesh, then by all means, come to USA first. Then all these concerns don’t apply to you.
1. For Non-Technical Majors, 1 year OPT: If you study in a non-technical field, such as MBA, Accounting, Finance & Management Degrees, know that you will get only 1 year of OPT (Temporary work permit) after completing your degree. Now, if you think about it, it is particularly hard for you to find a job. Because it will take you about 1 to 2 months to have a good resume ready, keep applying & start getting interviews.
Now if I am the hiring manager, why would I hire you knowing that you have only 10 months or less of legal right to work in the country? Why would I not go for someone with green card or citizenship instead? I am in a pressure to do H1B sponsor for you if I hire you.
Competition with Americans: Your competition is higher in numbers because you don’t have a technical degree. Most Americans do not study in a technical degree, so a vast number of American graduates become your competitors.
Industry Mindset: There is a mindset that European Americans (white skins) are better in non- technical roles. So, interviews may not come in plenty if you are a foreigner.
2. For Technical Majors (STEM), 3 years OPT, But…:
Yes, you will get 3 years OPT, but there are even more restrictions now than ever before.
1st year of OPT: First you will get a OPT card that is valid for just 1 year. This first year you can work for any company. You can be unpaid also. You can work with a contractor/staffing agency. For example, You can do a short contract for 6 months, paid or unpaid, through a staffing agency.But then for you to extend another 2 years by the end of 1st year:- (new rules from May 2016)
- You have to be employed in a role that matches with your area of studies
- You have be employed full time in a direct hire role
- You must be paid, & you cannot work through a consultant/staffing agency (Big blow)
- And you have to be employed in a company that is E-verified.
So, if you are doing a small contract with a company that is not e-verified, you have to leave that job and get in an E-verified company (more on that below)
2nd & 3rd year of OPT: Since May 2016, rules have changed and there are more bottlenecks than ever before. Like mentioned above, these remaining 2 years, you can only work in a company who has directly hired you. You cannot work through a consultant/staffing agency. Your job must be a full time position. It must be a paid position. It must be in a field of your studies.
These rules have made life much harder for technical degree holders, especially not being able to work through a consultant/staffing agency. Almost everyone with a STEM degree now a day is worried and this is the talk of the town now a days for STEM graduates.
3. H1b is a lottery, Technical or Non-Technical:
Even if you find a company who will sponsor you, know that H1b is a lottery, 1 in 4 now a days gets it. So really think about it. If you don’t get it the first time and you have only 1 year OPT, you have to return to Bangladesh as you have almost no time left on OPT or go back to school again.
With technical degrees, you get 2 more chances. But don’t forget these new 2016 rules that apply to technical graduates.
4. Field of study & Role Match, Technical or Non-Technical: Know that the role has to be in your field of study as well. Otherwise, if a company does sponsor you for H1b, there is a chance you will get something called an RFE (Request for Evidence) from Immigration while your H1b is in the process. The RFE will ask the company to explain how your job is related to your study. For example You cannot do H1B with roles such as “Accountant” but your degree is in Master of Education or Management. Or be a “Software Developer” with an MBA.
5. E-verified Company needed; Technical or Non-technical Degree: E-verify is a government program where employee verification is reported to the government. But it is not a mandatory program for all companies to follow.Thus to extend OPT or to sponsor H1B, you will have to find companies that are E-verified. Most companies these days are, but a handful of companies, even big names are not. You will be surprised. Note that, if a company is not E-verified, they cannot do H1B.
6. H1B costs a company, Technical or Non-Technical: It will cost a company almost 5k (depends, may go higher) to sponsor you. They will rather find another resident or citizen who can do the job you can. You are not very experienced anyway just graduating out of a university.
Trust me, one of the first few questions, when you get a phone call from a company who likes your resume is, “What is your immigration status?” and when you say OPT, You are the 4th choice, that changes the game.
7. Spouse Visa (F2): Recently it has become hard for graduates to bring their spouses on F2 visa. When you are on OPT, it shows immigration intent clearly. Thus it is recommended that you stand together for F1 and F2 visas or apply after you get H1.
8. Unemployment Days, Technical or Non-Technical: 90 days of unemployment allowed the first year of OPT and another 60 unemployment days are allowed in last 2 years. If you pass that, you are out of status (illegal).
How to work around these concerns
1. Do an internship/CPT in a company who has a history of sponsoring H1B: Having completed an internship or a small contract in a company who does H1B on regular basis, you have better probability of getting a chance again to join full time after graduation and try H1B.
Note that some schools do not let you do CPT/Internship until you finish 2 semesters, some disqualify you if you traveled outside USA the first year, some quality you even the first semesters. So when you are taking admission, make sure about when you are eligible for internship.
2. Get Certified: While studying, get certified in tools that are popular in market in the kinds of role you want to do after graduation. It will make your resume stand out.
3. Experienced already: If you have already worked in Bangladesh or anywhere for a considerable amount of time and you have actually used and became proficient with tools that are used in U.S. industries in your choice of roles, then you may be able to apply for a position that is in high demand & will do H1b. You can impress in interviews. Yes, experience in Bangladesh will count if you used those industry level tools. It’s all about the tools and languages, even more so than degrees sometimes.
4. Not Experienced/Fake Resume: You may not like it but If you are not experienced, and just coming out of a University, you will find that you have to make a resume that is fake with at least 5 years of experience. Most positions these days that may do H1b ask for 5 or more years of experience. It gets particularly hard in interviews by the way, because those interviews are not easy.
Can you not find a job without making a fake resume? Yes, you can but is that entry level job important enough for a company to spend the cost of sponsoring H1b? Depends. You need H1b eventually if you are on OPT, so it’s a concern. That’s why when you are here you will see most students make a fake resume to apply for positions that will do H1b. Is there companies who will do H1b even for entry level positions, yes, you have to find them. Usually, only big companies do that regardless.
5. Find a Consultant/Staffing Agency: There are many staffing agencies who will sponsor your H1b. For non-technical degree holder, this is probably your best shot since you have only 1 year OPT. For technical also, although you have 2 more years, unfortunately, your situation is similar. You cannot apply through a consultant for H1b in last 2 years.
But know that, most staffing agencies are Indian owned and very often they take advantage of your situation by paying very less, even not paying on time, even breaking promises of doing H1b for you. Most of them don’t care, let’s put it that way.
6. Avoid graduating in December, specially if you will get a non-technical degree: If you graduate in December in a non-technical degree, and get OPT in January or February, you are asking a company to sponsor you right away. H1B sponsorship happens only in April. For companies who may want to see your performance and then decide on sponsoring, you are not giving them a chance.For technical degree holders, you have the flexibility here.
7. From OPT to Greencard: It is legally possible, but you have to be in a position that is important enough and the company cannot fins a replacement for it. You have to apply all that social skills to convince HR to spend almost 10K to file for your green card. There are other difficulties also, thats why it happens but not very often.
8. Become a Teacher: If you get a job as a Lecturer, AP or professor to teach courses that are related to your studies, then your H1B is guaranteed, the lottery doesn’t apply to you. But you have to find a school district who will sponsor you. Make sure you know the restrictions of H1B. Note: High schools don’t apply. Community colleges & universities are eligible. Hospitals that has affiliations with government or universities are applicable. (This is the best choice really)
Why Canada is a better option
In Canada, There are no such restrictions. You get 3 years of work authorization after completion of your degree. There is no H1B lottery. Canadian companies value Canadian degrees, even more than American. And if you study in Canada on a program that takes at least 2 or 2+ years, you get more points towards getting the PR in Canada. And if you find a job, PR is very easy to get. And once you get citizenship in Canada, you can actually work in USA very easily on a TN permit, which has almost no restrictions, unlike h1b (Yes h1b has some restrictions as well)
The only side that is hugely negative in Canada is the size of job market, it’s smaller than Texas (Yes that’s true). But Canada is booming, jobs are growing, and if you really want to find a job, you will get certifications and find a way in Canada. Much better than all those “Concerns” in USA, isn’t it?
Thank you. I hope it helps.