Post-Grad International Students Deserve a Chance

There’s a whole subset of available talent that goes largely untapped. International students come in droves to the US to seek quality education, opportunity, and a better life. They choose disciplines that US industry is desperate for, yet are rejected by most employers before an interview can ever be conducted.

Washington DC has not helped, and in fact characterizes international students who will ultimately require sponsorship as a problem that must be solved.  The Trump administration points to “chain migration” the act of bringing relatives from the student’s native country, to the US, as if this was somehow a bad thing. As most of us know, and as Philipe Legrain states in an Economist article, “Openness to newcomers is morally right, economically beneficial and culturally enriching.”

Structural impediments instituted through executive actions have an immediate and direct impact on who gets into the country based largely on stereotype, bias, and therefore ignorance.  But it’s now also true that most employers some, in a misguided sense of patriotism, will no longer consider validly admitted and fully vetted international students, rejecting them before they can ever submit a resume.

We staffing firms watch as employers struggle with opportunity cost the real and consequential impact of languishing open requisitions, yet continue to turn a blind eye to the pipeline of OPT students whose skills match that of the open requisition. We seem to be fine as colleges, universities, and local communities benefit economically and socially, but bristle when these students begin looking for employment.

It’s a modern form of ethnic redlining.

There are many staffing organizations that specialize in the sponsorship of these potential future citizens, whose knowledge and understanding of USCIS and DOL practices yield the successful H-1B processing of international contract employees.  These employees subsequently go on to achieve green card, and ultimately, citizenship.  This is all done or supported by the staffing firm while the employer simply fills open requisitions, achieves performance objectives, and ultimately meets shareholder-value expectations.

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Sponsored employees in pursuit of citizenship are a steady, reliable, productive resource.  Most international employees seeking sponsorship, due to risk, will not leave the sponsoring organization, providing what amounts to a loyalty that simply isn’t present with citizens.

Many employers are already using contract talent, but draw the line on international contract talent, often for no good reason. There are of course, employers whose work requires US citizens only, and here it’s an understandable qualification.  In many cases, however, employers simply choose to avoid the additional administrative impact, completely unaware that there is a solution to this problem, or, are aware but complicit.

As an executive of a sponsoring staffing firm, I see the frustration, pain, desperation, and yes, anger at the roadblocks placed in front of these graduating professionals who, if unable to find work, are sent packing to their home countries. They carefully select disciplines whose talent shortages are well documented, pay tens of thousands of dollars to achieve an education in those disciplines, incur additional fees associated with immigration, then watch as organizations who purportedly need those skills post “US Citizens only” or “No sponsorships please,” on their career pages.

It’s a lose-lose proposition that doesn’t have to be. Employers whose work will allow for international talent should reconsider the opportunity and engage staffing firms that specialize in sponsorships.  Those brilliant young international students deserve a chance to make this great country even greater.

Patriotism that encourages bias is discrimination in disguise.

Dan Stewart

Dan Stewart
Dan Stewart is senior vice president at Excyl, a staffing firm based in Troy, Mich.

Dan Stewart

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