Many international students wonder how and when to ask an employer about sponsorship. First, it’s important to clarify that sponsorship refers to H-1B Visa sponsorship, which is an employer-sponsored visa. Employers do not need to sponsor international students when those students are utilizing their work authorization benefits through their student visa. Students on an F-1 visa have access to work authorization through either CPT or OPT. There are also some additional work authorization options available to students on other student visas. Contact ISSS to learn more.

The following steps are for international students who want to talk to employers about the possibility of an H-1B visa sponsorship after they’ve utilized their student visa work authorization benefits. If you’re unsure how to talk about your work authorization, be sure to read this article.

Don’t ask about sponsorship at a career fair or networking event

The best use of your time at a career event is to build a relationship with a potential employer. You want to highlight the skills and strengths that you would bring to their organization. You might consider clarifying whether they are able to hire international students as some companies have restrictions around being able to do so due to government regulations. This, however, isn’t the time to see if they’ll consider an H-1B visa sponsorship.

Do your research first

Before applying to a position at a company that you’re interested in, you can see if they have sponsored anyone in the past. One source for this information is GoinGlobal, which can be accessed through Handshake. (Note: To access when you are not on campus, please log in via Handshake > Career Center > Resources). Click on the H1B Visas tab in the menu to see what companies have sponsored in the past. You can also use networking as a way to get a sense of the company culture and if they seem open to hiring international students and potentially sponsoring. You’ll also get an idea of whether this organization seems to understand how the hiring process works for international students.

Ask the question

There isn’t a clear answer as to when to ask for sponsorship. The right timing depends on the relationship you’ve built with your potential employer. If not getting sponsorship means you wouldn’t accept the job, then it’s going to be much more important to bring it up early in the hiring process. You won’t want to wait until you get a job offer to learn that this employer won’t be able to provide sponsorship. On the other hand, if gaining work experience in the U.S. is a higher priority to you than being sponsored, you might wait to talk about sponsorship until later in the hiring process or even after you’ve started working with the employer.

Get support from Career Services

You can reach out to Career Services and meet with a career development advisor to talk through the nuances of when to ask an employer about H-1B visa sponsorship. While no one can tell you when to ask for sure, it can be helpful to talk through the pros and cons of when to approach an employer regarding sponsorship.