The difficult has recently become the near-impossible for international students looking for jobs in the shattered financial sector after graduation.
A February law effectively barring banks who took bailout money from hiring non-immigrant foreign workers has forced those firms to rescind dozens of offers made to international students before the law’s passage.
University administrators said they know of only one student between the Yale School of Management and Yale College who had an offer rescinded, but international students interviewed said the law will add another level of difficulty to a job search that was already fraught with obstacles.
The new legislation prohibits most financial institutions who received funds from the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program from hiring foreign workers. These institutions include some of the country’s largest and most powerful financial firms, including Bank of America Corp., Citigroup Inc., J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs Group, Inc.
Adrian Garcia SOM ’09 is the first known Yale casualty of the Employ American Workers Act. He said he is still looking for a job after Merrill Lynch retracted an offer it extended to him last summer. Garcia said he is discussing the possibility of working abroad with Merrill Lynch. He also said that though he was “very actively” looking for other employment options in the United States, he had found few options available to international students.
School of Management Dean Sharon Oster said although she is unsure how the law will affect the employment prospects of the school’s international students, she only knew of one student so far who has had their employment offer rescinded.
“Although the law makes it more difficult for students with H-1B visas to get jobs, it doesn’t complete eliminate the possibility,” Oster said. “Different banks are taking different approaches.”
Bank of America spokeswoman Sara Bloomquist said the changes in legislation “made it necessary” for the company to rescind job offers made to students requiring sponsorship for an H-1B visa. An H-1B visa is required for all foreign professionals in a “specialty occupation” that work in the United States.
Some banks are still “scratching their heads” about the legislation, Undergraduate Career Services Director Phil Jones said Friday, adding that other firms have already stopped extending offers to international students. To Jones’ knowledge, no undergraduates have had offers rescinded.
Finding employment as what the Department of Homeland Security terms a “non-immigrant student” was difficult even before the new law, eight of 13 international students said. Many businesses do not accept job applications from international students because, sometimes, the student ultimately may not be eligible to work, Adrienne Ronai ’06 SOM ’09 said. Foreign students can be barred from working in the United States — even after receiving an offer from an American firm — if their visa status does not clear certain hurdles.
That experience is familiar to Firat Erel ’09, who, since his junior year, has had trouble securing internship positions for the summer.
“Unless you’re really [a lot] better than your American counterpart, there is no reason the employer will pick you because you come with a premium of extra visa work for him,” Erel said. “The whole situation was discrimination at its best.”
Ashwin Agrawal SOM ’09 said he worries that if big financial institutions stop hiring international students, smaller firms will follow suit — even if not required to do so.
“Now smaller companies are becoming completely adverse to the concept of hiring internationals,” Agrawai said. “They feel like they are doing something wrong by hiring internationals.”
The new legislation will not affect existing foreign employees — the act refers to “new employees” about to commence a period of employment.