Why won’t companies sponsor an H-1B?

When I’m presenting on campus, I get this question all the time from international students (and sometimes from career counselors).   I also heard this question from international students when I was recruiting on campus for Monster.com.  It’s a good question, and I didn’t really have a strong grasp of the answer until I was a recruiter myself.  The short explanation for why companies don’t sponsor is that they don’t feel like they need to.  Sponsoring and H-1B visa requires extra effort on the company’s part to collect data, work with lawyers and the government, and manage timing.  It’s not a ton of extra effort, but if you don’t give them a good reason to do it, many won’t.  Here’s why recruiters don’t (and I didn’t) sponsor H-1B visas.

1. The company feels like it’s getting enough American applicants- If you’re a recruiter and you’re already swamped with applicants, you’re looking for ways to screen them out, not bring in more! In this economy there are lots and lots of people applying to jobs (particulary online).  And many of those people are unqualified.  A policy against sponsoring H-1Bs helps a recruiter make his pile of applications smaller.

2. There’s a chance you could lose the visa lottery-  Typically when the economy is strong, there are many more H-1B applications submitted than there are spots available.  When this happens, the government holds a random lottery and selects winners.  If a company agrees to sponsor your visa and goes through the trouble of filing your application, it’s a real dissappointment if you lose the lottery.

3. The recruiter/company doesn’t really understand the process- H-1B visa is not a houselhold term in the U.S.  Most people have no idea how the work authorization process works for non-Americans, and they just don’t want to deal with it.   These days any topic that involves the government, immigration and lawyers is enough to make a recruiter run away in fear!

4.  Fear that you won’t stay – Campus recruiters have grown suspicious of many international students because they don’t believe students will stay with their company very long.  Many international students are looking for a few years of American work experience that they can take back to their home country and settle down.  From the company’s perspective, why go through the trouble of sponsoring a visa for someone who will probably “go back home” in a year or two?

Don’t mean to discourage you with these, but they are some of the reasons why companies resist sponsoring work visas.  There are ways to overcome all of these circumstances, but that’s for another blog entry on another day.  (But one quick tip: avoid Human Resources.)


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