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International student and looking to work here? Watch out.

February 13, 2009

by Sahil Kapur
International student and looking to work here? Watch out.

Life just got a bit tougher for international students at CMC looking to stick around and work in the United States after graduation. With the economy spiraling into a recession whose magnitude is unprecedented in any of our lifetimes, there's an air of insecurity among the US labor force that has led to increased antagonism toward non-American workers in the country. As a result, Congress recently passed an amendment to President Obama's stimulus package (which has just received its final approval from the Senate) that places heavier restrictions on American companies looking to hire foreign workers on H-1B visas - the visa program sought by an overwhelming majority of non-US citizens attempting to live and work in the United States after competing their studies.

As for now, students seeking jobs at American businesses receiving money from TARP will be the most affected. These businesses include Bank of America, Citigroup and many others - all of which are commonly sought after by CMC students, foreign and American. While these companies are not embargoed from sponsoring H-1B visas, they have been hit with stronger restrictions on who can now be sponsored. Basically, these corporations now have to go further out of their way to sponsor you if you're not an American citizen and looking to work for them.

The H-1B program offers an annual maximum of 65,000 visas for students with Bachelor's degrees in a randomized selection process. Those working for high-level academic institutions and non-profit research organizations are exempt from the cap. In the past few years, the number of applicants to the program has increased significantly, causing UCSIS to strip the rights of many to live and work the United States - despite being employed, eligible and sponsored by their employers.

Due to current economic conditions, the H-1B program has altogether come under increasing fire by certain Congressmen and private citizens who are fearful that it may harm the American workforce. There are no present signs of anything more severe happening to the program (the good news is the US business community has a long history of lobbying in its favor), but it may come under increasing scrutiny and be modified in the coming months of years.

So a word of advice to all non-American students who want to continue living and working in the United States after graduation - I don't mean to scare anyone because chances are you won't be affected - but do keep a close eye on this while making your post-graduation plans.

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