Finding a finance job in USA as a foreigner living abroad

Any fellow foreigners here who managed to score a finance job in USA without completing a degree there?

To shed some light on my situation, I am from Europe, close to graduating from a borderline T10 European university with MSF, with two study abroad semesters in CA/US with strong brand names. My grades put me comfortably at the top of my cohort, I have a solid internship under my belt and have completed my studies at such a pace that I would be very competitive candidate for many jobs in e.g. London. I want to work in markets related jobs (think S&T, HFs etc.).

However, I have no desire to stay in Europe and would do just about anything to start building my life and career in US. Thus I am trying to weigh my opinions here - given my stellar academic record etc., is there any hope that I'll be able to get a Visa sponsor in US straight out of university? I have the advantage that I'll be able to spend the last semester of my studies in Canada, and thus flying to interviews and networking is not impossible since I am planning spending plenty of time in US anyway (although technically doing this with tourist Visa is a bit dodgy, and I don't know how companies view this). I suppose getting a job in Canada and trying to work my way in to states that way would also be possible and I wouldn't mind taking this route if needed. I could also complete a second masters in a highly ranked US school (should be able to get some admissions with my academic record), but I don't know how potential employers would view this option given that the opportunity cost in getting a second masters within a very short period of time is very high compared to the tangible benefits if one doesn't consider the OPT Visa route to US job markets.

TL;DR - my questions summarized:
1. Have you succesfully nailed a job in USA without living/studying there and without 2+ years of work experience?
2. Do you know anyone who has done it?
3. If not, how would you go about doing it, and would it be easier to work myself into USA starting my career in Canada or doing a second master's in USA to solve the work Visa issue?

All advice is very highly appreciated - feel free to PM if you are not comfortable sharing everything in public.

Comments (27)

Best Response
Apr 5, 2016 - 11:42pm
RobberBaron123, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Not relevant to me, but my insight would say that your best chance is to get a job in Europe with a US institution or an institution with US operations and see if it's possible to transfer. I am a US citizen but did my master's in Europe and met a few Americans over there who were living there, working for US companies. I would imagine it's similar vice versa. It's never going to be 'easy' to just get up and go, however, especially when immigration is such a hostile topic. Also, despite me studying in Europe, I don't believe I was eligible for working there just because I studied there. I imagine it's the same here...

Apr 6, 2016 - 4:00am
risenshine, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Thank you for the reply!

Doing a master's in states will open up the possibility of working 12 months with OPT Visa (24 for STEM fields). Lateraling from Europe is ofc a possibility, and based on browsing a bunch of linkedin profiles seems to be the way most have done it. However, it is still only a possibility, with no guarantees of it ever happening, and I'd imagine it would be less likely than e.g. trying to do the same from Canada where I could have more chances of collaborating with US employees and building a network there to have someone vouch for me.

Apr 6, 2016 - 4:01am
still_an_accountant, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Applying from Overseas (Originally Posted: 09/15/2017)

Hi all,

Long time reader, first time poster.

I've got a quick question about applying for overseas vacancies. I currently reside in Australia and work in corporate M&A team here. I want to apply for both US and UK offices - do the BB's and EB's recruit students and graduates from overseas? I know they sponsor for international students but in this case I study and reside in Australia.

Any help appreciated.

Apr 6, 2016 - 4:02am
Bayoumonkey, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Have you considered banking in Melbourne or Sydney? The Visa process seems pretty complex and according to monkeys such as @binders its a massive administration hurdle. Good luck

“The only thing I know is that I know nothing, and i am no quite sure that i know that.” Socrates
Apr 6, 2016 - 4:03am
still_an_accountant, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Thanks for the advice. Unfortunately I missed the recruitment season in Australia and also would love to get experience in a bigger market. I've progressed through to online testing and offered interviews etc for a few firms in London but not sure how interview process would work and whether it would be worth flying out to London for assessment centres if I would be at a significant disadvantage.

Apr 6, 2016 - 4:04am
highflyer89, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Getting a job on Wall Street as an International student (Originally Posted: 12/28/2016)

International students who finish their bachelors in USA are almost always sponsored by their employers, but I was wondering if the same is true for a Canadian student.

Apr 6, 2016 - 4:05am
belonik, what's your opinion? Comment below:

canadians are also internationals in US so yes

Apr 6, 2016 - 4:08am
Freebread02, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Unless you have a really specific skill that someone in the US doesn't, I don't know why they'd hire you (no offense). They get tons of qualified applicants who don't require Visa sponsorship. You'd have a better chance of getting Big 4 or MBB experience in Pakistan or Dubai and figuring out how to transfer after a couple of really great performance years there.

Apr 6, 2016 - 4:11am
newaccounter, what's your opinion? Comment below:

International Graduate Applying for SA positions (Originally Posted: 01/21/2010)

I graduated May 2009 but many of the banks' analyst programs did not hire internationals at that point. Now that TARP money is repaid it is too late for FT position applications for some of the places. The one that I am particularly interested in, only has SA positions available currently and I was wondering how (if at all) would they look at a grad international with IB boutique experience in the past 6mo. applying - trying to get a FT offer through that. I might have connections in the firm at the analyst level, but my OPT expires end of May and it looks like that there are way too many complications. I can try sponsoring myself for an H1B. Also I am going to talk to my connection to see what the deal is with the particular company, but I would like to know my chances in general before I do. Do you think, it is worth a try? How probable it is that they even look at my resume and do I not mention my OPT expiring? Do I say "actually I would like to apply for your FT position', if I get an interview. Any thoughts ?

Apr 6, 2016 - 4:12am
zip, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Someone can correct me if I am wrong, but I don't think you will be considered for an SA position if you have already graduated. I am pretty sure one of the requirements is that you haven't graduated from school in order for you to be an SA. I would focus on trying to find a FT position somewhere.

That being said, it never hurts to talk to contacts and see what the options are, but it's equally important to be realistic about this.

Apr 6, 2016 - 4:13am
Ukon, what's your opinion? Comment below:
  1. You will not be considered for SA position
  2. FT recruiting is over at most places
  3. You cannot sponsor yourself for H1B. It is illegal
  4. Given your complicated situation, your analyst connection will most likely lead you to nowhere. Not even an interview

If you really want a chance, I can tell you that you are pretty much screwed. But should you still send an email to your contact? Yes, you should because you have nothing to lose.

Apr 6, 2016 - 4:14am
braziliantrader, what's your opinion? Comment below:

International applicant to new analyst positions (Originally Posted: 09/14/2010)

I'm from Brazil and currently work at the quant desk of biggest IBank here in Brazil, but I would like to live abroad and I'm thinking about applying to new analyst position at major BBs and a few other places like Citadel and Getco. Beforehand, though, i would like to know if it is feasible for me to get such a position.

My bground:

BSc of Economics at a well known economics school here in BZ (FGV) - graduated BSc of Applied Maths at the state university of são paulo (Biggest brazilian university) - Jul/2011 expected graduation

6 months fixed income desk internship at a famous american fund here in Brazil 5 months internship at a an indepent hedge fund and now I'm an analyst at a quant desk for about 3 months already. I do think I'm a very qualified professional, have extensive full-time trading experience and excelent academics.

Now some issues I don't know if they are really issues or not:

1) No one actually knows the quality of my education, it is not as the places I went to are world famous, even though they are the top schools in BZ.

2) Could the interviews be done only by phone?

3) Would they sponsor an H1B Visa if they think I'm a good fit?

My interest encompass both quant trading and global macro, as I have experience and academics for both of them.

Thanks and if someone could help me, please PM me!

Apr 6, 2016 - 4:16am
SAC, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Your best bet would be to transfer to an American or European bank in Brazil, work there for at least a year, and then transfer to New York office on an L-1 Visa. Other option is of course to enroll in a Master's program in the US or Europe and then interview with firms on campus.

I believe H-1B visas only apply to people already in the U.S., with a U.S. degree. You're gonna have to obtain a different visa to transfer from a Brazilian firm directly to a U.S. firm.

Hope that helps.

Apr 6, 2016 - 4:17am
braziliantrader, what's your opinion? Comment below:

What about London positions?

I don't need a work permit as I'm a german national.

About going to a foreign bank here, the problem is that there are only IBD or Equity Research positions, trading is VERY rare.

Apr 6, 2016 - 4:18am
SAC, what's your opinion? Comment below:

London would be a LOT easier. Especially cause you have BRIC experience. Best bet is to email and call people and then try to schedule a trip there with a bunch of meetings. also look at Frankfurt and Zurich.

Apr 6, 2016 - 4:19am
jolie90, what's your opinion? Comment below:

International student looking for a position in a bank (Originally Posted: 06/30/2012)

Hi everyone,

I am Jolie, a international student. I have just graduated from the CSU with a economics major and business administration minor. I have a pretty ok GPA (3.86) but little of banking experience. I want to get into a bank in the US under my OPT.

However, most of the bank that I applied for rejected me from the CV round ( Bank of America, 1st national bank, PNC bank) though I matched their requirements.

Anyone especially international students having the job in financial field can give me some advise. What should I do? Where should I start? ( I have few networks)

I appreciate your time and feel really grateful for your shared experiences.

Thank you very much! [name removed by mod]

Keep moving forward!
  • 1
Apr 6, 2016 - 4:22am
RichardPennybags, what's your opinion? Comment below:
I wouldn't put my name on WSO if I were you.

Especially if you are fucking Angelina Jolie

"Every man should lose a battle in his youth, so he does not lose a war when he is old"
Apr 6, 2016 - 4:21am
MangoBanker, what's your opinion? Comment below:

......... Ummm you really shouldn't put your name. Well if you don't have any experience you will have to network like crazy.... umm you should PM people who've answered these questions before. it would be much faster.

Apr 6, 2016 - 4:23am
jolie90, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Thank you for your replies,

I started to pm some people who created the same topic and hopefully I can hear from them soon.

Jolie is my nick name :) but thank you for your warnings which is not redundant at all

Keep moving forward!
Apr 6, 2016 - 4:24am
thoperno, what's your opinion? Comment below:

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Apr 6, 2016 - 4:25am
IlliniProgrammer, what's your opinion? Comment below:

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