Is H1-B required for Private Equity Recruiting (on-cycle)


Is it very difficult to recruit when you are on the OPT (even though you have an extension, making your OPT valid for 3 years). On cycle recruiting happens very early upon graduation. To participate for on cycle PE recruiting, do recent graduates have to have gotten their H1-B or can they recruit while they are still on OPT? Thank you very much for your help guys!

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Comments (39)

May 27, 2020 - 8:32am

Yes! Because on cycle recruiting start in September and some graduates have not gotten their H1-B during that time.

  • Intern in IB-M&A
May 27, 2020 - 8:46am

do recent graduates have to have gotten their H1-B or can they recruit while they are still on H1-B? Thank you very much for your help guys!

Maybe not understanding but i think the second H1-B is meant to say OPT?

When does the H1-B lottery usually happen? also wondering how firms are approaching visa sponsorship, especially given Trump's rhetoric plan to curb international workers

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  • Intern in IB-M&A
May 27, 2020 - 1:24pm

Does on cycle mean right after you start your full time?

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  • Associate 1 in PE - LBOs
May 27, 2020 - 1:31pm

Generally yes. It is tough to recruit without an H-1B. That is why many international students will wait out the first on-cycle and go for off-cycle or the on-cycle in their 2nd year. Headhunters ask for immigration status and only a few (Henkel, CPI) will actively refer international applicants to their clients. I'd say the frequency of interviews / success increases substantially after getting the H-1B.

However, there are exceptions:

  • The largest megafunds are often agnostic. Blackstone, Carlyle etc. are willing to take the risk and sponsor an H-1B.

  • Very international PE firms (mostly the megafunds again) are willing to recruit without an H-1B. If you don't get your H-1B, they will sometimes shift you to an international office (London, Hong Kong are most common). However, they will favor European citizenship for London, for example, so the transfer is easy if the H-1B fails.

  • In all situations, having STEM OPT helps. You will usually have 1 more year of STEM OPT for at least one Associate year at the PE firm. Some smaller PE firms are ok with this and will take the risk.

May 27, 2020 - 1:36pm

Hi, I really really appreciate your response. I've reached out to many people, and this is the best and most comprehensive answer I have gotten. Thank you!!!
Just a quick follow up, as an International student, I should probably then just focus on Henkel and CPI as headhunters when I graduate next year, right? Are there any other firms that actively refer internationals?

  • Associate 1 in PE - LBOs
May 27, 2020 - 2:52pm

Happy to help. I wouldn't say that - you should target ALL of them. As an international student, it really is a numbers game (your entire life in the US is a numbers and probability game..).

  • There will always be exceptions with smaller firms that sponsor/take the risk. So just Henkel / CPI is not the right strategy. You might get lucky with the smaller ones.

  • I would talk to all headhunters and explain your visa situation upfront. Most will say wait a year. Henkel and CPI will probably present some limited options (because they represent the larger funds). If you get the H-1B, you can go back to the old headhunter relationships and re-recruit with them. Honestly, the re-recruiting post-H-1B is a much better bet than trying to only get the megafunds that sponsor.

  • The funds that sponsor H-1B have hyper-competitive processes. First of all, that means as an international, you'll have to be at top groups to get the interviews. Then you'll have to get the job.. it is just a high risk situation. Keep all your options open and hope the H-1B works out.

  • Finally keep an open mind about opportunities in Asia/Middle East/Canada. Some of these headhunters will recruit for funds in Canada (Onex, Altas), ME (ADIA) or elsewhere (Temasek, GIC). The Middle East ones, I know, are open to foreign citizenship at least. If the US doesn't work out and you still want to be an investor, those are still solid options.

May 29, 2020 - 9:17am

Hey man,

this is some very useful stuff. I had started a thread on this as well and was wondering if you could PM me? Wanted some advice from a fellow international.


  • Associate 1 in HF - Event
May 27, 2020 - 3:12pm

The potential suspension of new H1Bs doesn't make this any easier. I imagine it makes this process even tougher for those on OPT.

Jun 15, 2020 - 4:58pm

Just gonna throw my two cents in here as an international who got a PE firm to sponsor greencard while on OPT.

H1-B is for sheep...

If you have STEM OPT - it takes 8 months to 1.5 years to process most steps of a greencard application which supplants the need for H1-B and OPT since it provides temporary work authorization along the way. Also avoids risk of being a gulag H1-B worker.

Pay $200 for a legit immigration attorney instead of asking other international alumni who haven't hired a lawyer themselves and have been fed the H1-B garbage they sell to all 22-year old analyst sheep.

  • Analyst 3+ in IB - Ind
Jun 15, 2020 - 5:14pm

are you referring to the green card diversity lottery? what about people from countries like India and China which have long waiting times for green card.

Jun 15, 2020 - 5:22pm

Not greencard lottery. I am talking employer sponsored greencard. Even for China, India folks, can get temporary greencard in 8 months to 1.5 years. Long wait time is just to get final greencard - until you get that you can switch to other jobs that have same occupational role and same or higher salary. This is pareto dominant to H1-B path, which is a complete waste of time and makes you an indentured servant in practice.

Jun 15, 2020 - 5:51pm

Hi Achilles, this is super helpful thank you. Quick question: isn't the hard part getting the PE fund to sponsor you for the greencard? Why would it be helpful to hire an immigration attorney if the bank/PE firm did not agree to apply for a green card on your behalf. Did you recruit for PE out of undergrad? Also are you at a MF? Happy to send you a direct message if that's a better way of communicating. Thank you!

  • 1
Jun 15, 2020 - 6:08pm

I am suggesting people spend $200 for a consult with an immigration attorney to know their options rather than blindly chase after an H1-B when there are clearly better options out there.

For example, H1-B sponsorship costs ~$5000 while Greencard sponsorship costs ~$10,000. In expected value terms (probability of success * price), the greencard wins by a landslide. Not all firms are smart enough to realize this, so you have to educate them.

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Gen
Jun 16, 2020 - 1:44pm

Thanks for the input. How did you make the switch to PE while on OPT? Or did you start out of undergrad?

Starting at an NYC BB in the coming months, and I have heard Green Card sponsorship is only available to VP+. How accurate is that in your experience?

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