Last month, UT held a university wide event called Explore UT. Thousands of school students accompanied by their parents and teachers toured the campus all day and participated in many fun activities. One of the events was specifically aimed at promoting cultural diversity on campus. UT International students from countries all over the world were asked to volunteer to write names of school children in their native languages. I volunteered to write in my native language Bengali.
What really surprised me was the huge diversity of cultures and nationalities at UT. I found several volunteers who were native speakers and many American students were learning foreign languages. It is testimony to the diversity of the student population of UT. Surely, this would not have been possible has UT not been receptive to international students. In fact, the infrastructure at UT and at McCombs for international students is very supportive of the immigration legalities. This is definitely one of the important reasons that attracted me to the McCombs School of Business.
It is that time of the year when first years are wrapping up their internship search and second year MBAs are sitting on full-time job offers. In the past, I have received a lot of e-mails from prospective students about finding jobs, getting visa sponsorship etc, so I want to answer all those questions in this forum. Please note, I am speaking from my experience as a student who went through this process. I am not an immigration expert.
Question: Can I turn to anyone for advice and help with applying for F1 visa?
Yes! UT has a very effective and efficient International Office located in campus that helped me file my F1 visa when I was admitted to McCombs. They even advised me on what documents I needed if I wanted to travel to India during the winter break. Additionally, the International office continuously sends travel advisory updates, issues I-20 cards and has advising hours five days a week for any immigration related questions that you may have. McCombs also has an international advisor who helps us with recruitment and discusses any concerns that we may have.
Question: I am an international student. Will I need visa sponsorship to work in USA during summer?
No. USCIS allows all international students to work in summer as long as they have completed the requisite paperwork for a CPT application. Continuous Practical Training is an application to work in a field related to your study (in the form of a summer internship or part time work in the second year of MBA) and does not require any visa. The student advisors at the International Office helped me complete the paperwork required to apply for CPT.
Question: If I want to work for a company that does not sponsor visas, what are my options?
You can work for that company in summer using your CPT. You can even continue working for them part-time in the second year. It has often happened in the past that companies were so impressed by McCombs students that they changed their HR policies and sponsored H1B visas for those students.
Question: Do companies that hire students on campus sponsor H1B visas?
Yes. McCombs Career Services requires us to specify in our resumes that we will need sponsorship to work legally in USA. Country of citizenship is NOT required in our resumes. When companies hire us on campus, they are fully committed to sponsoring H1B visas.
Question: If I do not find a job by graduation, what can I do?
USCIS allows all students 60 days from the day of graduation to apply for an Employment Authorization (EAD) Card via OPT i.e. Optional Practical Training. With an approved EAD, you can stay/work in USA for twelve more months provided you find employment within 90 days of the start date of your OPT. Effectively, you have 5 months from the date of graduation to find a job. You do NOT need H1B visa for the twelve month duration of the OPT. Again, the highly efficient International office at UT requires all international students to take OPT application training in their final semester. They also helped me file my application earlier last month.
And yes! The international office is fun too! Tonight they are playing a French movie and only us international students are invited to watch for free! Every month, the International office organizes trips to places such as the NASA Space Center in Houston or Sea World at San Antonio or Fredericksburg in New Braunfels. Aye Aye UT!