Glass Ceiling for Internationals?

I recently encountered a puzzling situation, something which I could only compare to the story of the Hebrews in the Bible. It all began when I ran into an old friend and his girlfriend at a restaurant.

My friend had always been one of the smartest people I knew, and he had gone to an international family in China for high school. His family was not particularly wealthy, so he had been forced to take financial aid at college. Yet despite all this, he had made it to one of the Top 5 colleges for math and computer science in the US.

He is now applying for full-time roles in quantitative finance, and he has gotten to the final rounds of almost all the places he had interviewed with. Yet, he still hadn't been able to secure an offer. I was perplexed, since he was far more capable than I when it came to solving interview questions and talking about his interests. That's when I started to wonder: was the fact that he required a work visa in the US what was screwing him over?

It was like a piece of Kosher food that had been made unclean by the presence of a fly. He had worked so hard to get to where he was, and yet he still couldn't find a job in the US. It seemed unfair, and I would love to find a way to help him. So, I turn to all of you: has anyone experienced something similar in their job search? If so, how did you overcome it? What advice would you offer someone in my friend's situation?

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Comments (55)

  • Quant in PropTrad
1mo 

What if his girlfriend is also international? (Knowing friends around me, this is often the case). This doesn't really answer the grievances of the questions at hand.

1mo 
thebigshorter999, what's your opinion? Comment below:

No, it is illegal to marry someone solely for the purpose of obtaining a visa. Immigration laws are very strict and those who are found to have entered into a fraudulent marriage can face serious consequences, including deportation and a permanent bar from ever entering the United States.

  • 2
1mo 
Kevin25, what's your opinion? Comment below:

doesn't have to be the sole purpose.

  • Intern in IA
1mo 

immigration laws clearly arent strict, have you seen the southern border. OP tell your asian friend to cross from Mexico and hell be able to stay here forever

1mo 
thebigshorter999, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Quant funds are very very stingy when it comes to giving out H1Bs. Your analogy to a piece of Kosher food that had been made unclean by the presence of a fly is quite apt.

1mo 
pbandjpartners, what's your opinion? Comment below:

This is just not true. Just look up who all the quants are at prop shops, HFs, AMs, etc... 

There's a ton of international students.

1mo 
Kevin25, what's your opinion? Comment below:

yeah work visa definitely makes it more difficult.

in terms of what to do about it, you just have to play with the cards you've been dealt. everybody would love to be a tall attractive white man with big dick born in America in a rich family, but it's all pure luck. some people live in Uganda and shit.

  • Prospect in S&T - Other
1mo 

International here. Don't think it's the visa issue as most great prop firms hire Chinese internationals in droves. Citadel securities in particular for example. CEO was a PHD grad student from China. It does seem to be a bit harder to get into bb trading programs tho. 

  • 2
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  • Investment Analyst in HF - EquityHedge
1mo 

This is obvious. Nobody wants to make an offer to somebody who has to compete for a H1B (<10% chances of getting it). Many years ago H1B were easier to get, that's why you see many older internationals in the US (got their green cards already after many years with legacy H1Bs or are just renewing their H1Bs).

Try HK or Europe

  • Associate 2 in PE - LBOs
1mo 

Coming from a PE lens and not a HF, but definitely makes it more difficult. I've been helping run our recruiting process for a month now and my MD explicitly said to bin anyone that's international no matter what their fit/qualification may be because we are not going to sponsor under any circumstances. It's just an unfortunate fact of life.

  • 1
1mo 
Achilles., what's your opinion? Comment below:

You should tell your MD that he/she is an idiot.. Only costs 10k to sponsor a greencard which will come with 98% odds of success in 1.5 years. That's an investment and risk worth taking to get stellar talent over great talent. 

  • 3
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  • Analyst 1 in IB-M&A
1mo 

I agree. Plus there's a higher likelihood that an international will stick longer and work harder because of all the H1B restrictions (can't afford to get fired, process to change firms is harder, etc.) 

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1mo 
IncomingIBDreject, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I know that GS sponsors but the culture is… notoriously bad.

if your friend wants US really bad though than that might be the move.

Array

1mo 
PrivateTechquity 🚀GME+BBBY🚀, what's your opinion? Comment below:

It's kinda super sad and unfair IMO. Going through recruiting rn and I had to toss out every international app we got, half of them were better than most of the domestic candidates we got that applied. Visas in the US are so lame.

  • 1
1mo 
Achilles., what's your opinion? Comment below:

...only costs 10k to sponsor a greencard which will come with 98% odds of success in 1.5 years.

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  • Investment Analyst in HF - EquityHedge
1mo 

Not as simple as that. Firms can only sponsor green cards if the worker has already been working for the company for at least 5 years (which means you either had a prolonged OPT and or H1B)

  • Anonymous Monkey's picture
  • Anonymous Monkey
  • Rank: Chimp
1mo 
Anonymous Monkey, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Life is more about luck than anything else, and 80% of your future is determined right at the moment you are born - country, parents, health, etc. The rest 20% is way more complex than just saying "I did the right choices".

That's why being grateful and humble is important.

1mo 
57gkhvzuo96869cv, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Doesn't he get STEM-OPT?

Thats like 3 years post graduation.

Even then, the funds can transfer him to London or some other office if he doesn't manage to get H1B in those 3 years. And afaik they could get him back to the US on an L1 later.

  • PM in HF - Other
1mo 

Heaps of opportunities in HK. Or Singapore. 

Also, with current changes in UK immigration, if he did graduate from a top school, he can get work permit in UK and find a quant shop there. Pretty sure quant shops there would happily sponsor him after 2 years work permit expires.

Also quant firms in Australia are eligible for Global Talent visa scheme, which gives candidates like 2 weeks to get Green card, then stay for one year then apply for citizenship. If you have Aussie passport you can move back to US under employer sponsorship visa (similar to H1B but without the lottery part, specially reserved for Australians). 

Or just try Europe. Or find opportunities in home country. 

So many options.

The US, or any country for that matter, is not obliged to give non-citizens anything. Each country has their own immigration laws, and it changes over time.

If your friend is that smart, he should be able to figure out different pathways for himself and weighing probability of each option and go for the optimal scenario. 

Next please. Tired of this kind of story.

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  • Analyst 1 in IB-M&A
1mo 

I mean if you're spending all that much money to study in top US institutions, you probably are looking forward to a good ROI. Most of the companies in 3rd world countries pay < 10% of what US pays. US is not obligated to give non-citizens anything, but it probably wants to maintain its growth engine by attracting top talent from around the world, and for that it probably would like to create more opportunities for the international students.

  • 2
  • PM in HF - Other
1mo 

Why does good ROI have to be permanent employment in the US? A lot of territories/jurisdictions with good pay and lax visa laws, HK, Dubai, etc. 

Why do these kids think they're entitled to green cards/citizenships just because they spent a chunk of money on US education? It's a service. You spent money, you got the degree, that's it. 

If it's the green card you're looking to buy, go for investment visa or something similar. 

The US still retains a good supply of annual intake of talents obviously, just not for everyone who paid for education in the US.

Bottom line: Idgaf. 

  • Intern in PE - LBOs
1mo 
[Comment removed by mod team]
1mo 
Achilles., what's your opinion? Comment below:

Why does no one mention the simple fact that international students don't have to dick around with H1-B visas and stupid lotteries. Only costs 10k for a firm to sponsor a greencard which has 98% chance of success and comes and arrives in the mail in 1.5 years on average. 

Internationals just have to ADVOCATE for themselves and EDUCATE the firm regarding the options they have to hire and retain a talented international employee.

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  • Analyst 1 in IB-M&A
1mo 

I think it's because the rich internationals just get an EB-1. The rest of the juniors that are left probably don't want to raise voice if that means rubbing someone the wrong way. The senior internationals should advocate for this though

  • Intern in HF - EquityHedge
1mo 

It doesn't apply to students from India and China due to the quota system. They have to wait for several years before they can get a green card. And you almost cannot escape this waiting period as it only depends on your place of birth rather than nationality.

1mo 
Achilles., what's your opinion? Comment below:

Yes, but all of the international students from all the other countries aren't taking advantage of this either... and neither are the companies who can easily hire them lol

Most Helpful
  • Quant in PropTrad
1mo 

Those born in China and India definitely face longer waits due to the country quotas on green cards. I'm not sure if 3 years of OPT is always enough time to get a green card but that seems much more likely for non Chinese and non Indians. Without OPT I doubt many firms would be willing to wait the 1-2 years for the candidate to begin working or chance the H1B lottery unless the candidate is truly exceptional which would be unusual for campus hires. Given how many internationals quant firms hire and that said candidate got interviews I would be surprised if visa reasons were the sole problem in getting jobs as firms that don't want to sponsor visas will typically not interview candidates needing sponsorship.

  • Investment Analyst in HF - EquityHedge
1mo 

Not as simple as that. Firms can only sponsor green cards if the worker has already been working for the company for at least 5 years (which means you either had a prolonged OPT and or H1B)

  • Investment Analyst in HF - EquityHedge
1mo 

Sorry all - you're correct!

The rule I talked about I think is for a different green card type (the L / transfer type I think).

Do you know if you can get a work permit while waiting for the green card? If you live e.g. in Italy, and applied for a sponsored GC - can you work in the US in the meantime? If not, that doesn't make much sense for the company. 

1mo 
FlyingBoat, what's your opinion? Comment below:

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  • Quant in PropTrad
1mo 

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1mo 
FlyingBoat, what's your opinion? Comment below:

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