Remaining in the United States a problem for some

Many international students might not be able to get visas to stay in the United States.

Jerret Raffety

International student Mohit Dargan wants to stay in the United States when he graduates, but he won’t be surprised if he has to return to his native India, he said.

Dargan, an Institute of Technology senior, is one of many international students who might not be able to obtain visas to stay in the United States after graduation.

So far, Dargan has encountered some discouraging signs in his search:

“A few companies at the IT Job Fair asked, right off the bat, what my citizenship status was,” he said. “When I replied that I was here on a student visa, I was rejected right there,” Dargan said.

He said he and others feel disappointed because they don’t have the same opportunities as others.

Some of Dargan’s friends who are also international students were passed over for positions because they were not citizens, de spite being as or more qualified than the competition, he said.

“International students pay a lot in fees to the State Department, and we’re still treated like outsiders by the government and, as a result, employers,” Dargan said.

U.S. immigration law states that people must obtain visas to enter the United States.

A visa is an official permit authorizing foreign nationals to enter the United States for a specific reason and specified period of time.

There are many different types of visas, depending on the nature of one’s visit to the United States. Graduating international students must change the nature of their visas to either work, get married or continue their training to obtain visas to stay in the United States, according to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Web site.

President George W. Bush has recently signed an act that allows 20,000 more work visas to be given out for graduates of master’s degree programs in 2005, said Chris Bentley, spokesman for the immigration services.

This would bring the total to 85,000 work visas available, Bentley said. In 2001, a peak of 195,000 work visas was available, he said.

The total work visas available were reduced from that number to 65,000 in 2004 by a congressional mandate, Bentley said.

Vinash Gopalakrishnan, a former international student from Malaysia and graduate of the College of Liberal Arts and Institute of Technology undergraduate programs, said many companies have become less interested in hiring international students since Sept. 11, 2001.

The terrorist attacks and a recent corporate trend of outsourcing jobs has discouraged hiring foreign nationals, Gopalakrishnan said.

Companies can sponsor international students while they apply for work visas, but it is not always cost-effective, he said.

The application process for a work visa for an international student might cost between $3,000 and $5,000 in legal fees, he said.

Many companies are also hesitant to hire international students because of their uncertain immigration statuses during the application process, said Kamen Dimitrov, an international student from Bulgaria getting his master’s degree at the Carlson School of Management.

A foreign national’s application for a work visa may be rejected at any point of a company’s sponsorship because of a technicality, he said.

Gopalakrishnan said he has sent out more than 1,000 resumes and rarely gets a response or reason from companies for his rejection, he said.

Gopalakrishnan also said the University did not provide him with enough company contacts who might be interested in hiring international students.

The career services centers he used at the University seemed more focused on U.S. citizens, because most companies appearing at job fairs are local and small, he said. Smaller companies don’t have the financial resources or inclination to hire international students, he said.

“Many companies come to the job fairs without any openings, let alone openings for international students,” said Kapil Bansal, an IT senior and international student from India.

The few opportunities available to international students are very competitive, Bansal said.

“The rest are employers who can only employ U.S. citizens, such as the armed services,” Bansal said.

IT Career Services tries to help students have the skills to find jobs, but it cannot serve as a placement agency, said Director Sharon B. Kurtt.

The University solicits more than 2,000 companies for its job fairs each year and keeps a Web site where companies can sign up for the job fair, said Paul Timmins, lead career services coordinator for the Career and Community Learning Center within the College of Liberal Arts. The center’s office can only point students in the right direction – they have no control over a company’s policies, he said.

Clare Foley, director of the graduate business career center at the Carlson School, said international graduate students can log on to a Web site that lists companies that hire foreign nationals.