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Comments (28)

Mar 25, 2015 - 4:45pm

not international, but interested to hear
curious in particular if there's a difference in the local/international make up for the incoming analysts at MFs vs. MMs

happy to give advice; no asking for referrals please
Mar 25, 2015 - 5:08pm

Yes, you do get asked about your citizenship / Visa status.

If you need to be sponsored for an H-1B Visa then it becomes harder to recruit. The majority of smaller private equity funds do not sponsor candidates for H-1B and thus you will most likely not even get an interview. The larger shops (mega funds and the larger / more established MM funds) do sponsor candidates but you will still be at some disadvantage compared to US citizens and green card holders. Overall, it is certainly possible to get an offer as an international applicant but it just makes recruitment harder.

As a side note, you will also not be able to recruit for immediate start opportunities because it takes a while to get the H-1B Visa (although most of these immediate start opportunities are at smaller funds which are unlikely to interview you in the first place).

P.S. No idea why WSO automatically capitalizes the word "Visa".

Apr 1, 2015 - 11:30pm

Thank you. Has anyone seen internationals successfully land positions at MFs or upper MM firms during 1st year banking recruiting? I'm guessing firms have higher H1B representation at more senior levels (principals, MDs) where hires have more value-add and are more distinguishable.

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Apr 2, 2015 - 8:44pm

I agree with ming's comments above. It will be incredibly difficult at small firms. It will also be difficult if your English is not top notch, and you'll be doing a lot of reading and writing.


Apr 2, 2015 - 8:48pm

well.. I am from china and just land my internship at real estate PE. next week will go training .Not very sure whether they will sponsor me and we haven't touch this part. But From my opinion, hardworking will be paid off and you will get one. I didn't apply online and I got this internship by referral. Interviewed with 8 companies and finally got a shoot. Yes, it's hard for international student but it doesn't mean you have no chance and stop doubting ,Do it is important .My next target is investment banking at wall street. Keep chasing dream!

Apr 4, 2015 - 2:35am

Going through the process right now. Met with a bunch of hh but didn't get looked at during the first wave because I'm still on OPT. Plan to hit up all recruiters again once I get my H1B (IF i do get one...)

Nothing is true; everything is permitted.
Apr 6, 2015 - 12:35pm

Wow @Ezio Auditore" , do you think that was just because you were still on OPT, or do you think it could've been background, school, etc. No offense intended; just trying to get a sense of how much of a handicap it is to be international.

Apr 11, 2015 - 12:03pm

I'm a Chinese citizen just about to graduate from college. I will say as soon as you enter the second round of interview, you want to make sure you make the HR understand your status very clearly. I had a drama when a small hedge fund in Chicago gave me an offer and then took it back because they realized the corporate actually couldn't sponsor, while the recruiting team had no idea. This totally screwed up my recruiting schedule coz I wasted three month not interviewing...

However, I just landed a MM PE in NYC. They are super wonderful people and the HR is willing to assist me in anyway possible. So yes it is possible. If you have opt, tell the HR that even if they don't sponsor you can still legally work in the US for a year. The world changes so much nowadays... Do we really know where we will be after a year?

For all international student, I just want to stress the point that it is your responsibility to communicate clearly and educate the HR. It is your career, your life, after all. I've learned it the hard way.

Surprised that they didn't realize I'm foreign... Kudos to Linguistics double majors I guess!

Apr 13, 2015 - 5:49pm

From my experience (as a Canadian), some firms don't want to deal with Visa and there's nothing you can do about it. However, most firms are open to it (some more than others obviously) as long as it's a straightforward and relatively risk-free process (ie. no one will look at you while still on OPT with only ~1/3 of H1B applicant getting a Visa). You'll always be at a disadvantage vs. a local candidate.

That's assuming you have US education / professional experience. If you have studied / worked abroad, it will be significantly harder to convince people your experience is has good and those of other competing candidates.

Best Response
Apr 15, 2015 - 9:12am

I think I can speak with some authority on this. Came to the U.S. for college on an F-1 Visa and then switched to H1B when I started at a bulge bracket after college. What you guys should know is that once you have secured an initial H1B, I hear that it is relatively easy to switch employers. I can't comment directly since I was lucky enough to get a green card after two years on an H1B, while still on my first job, but I know several people who have made the switch on an H1B (my roommate and several coworkers). It's not like every time you switch employers, your new employer needs to start from scratch and file a complete, new application for you - all they need to do is fill out a form and you are "reassigned" to them. Keep in mind that H1Bs are only valid for 3 years and you can renew once (so total time you can spend working in the US in an H1B capacity is 6 years), which means your new employer will need to bear the financial burden of renewals and possibly a green card application if you are maxed out on H1B. They won't have the risk of getting you selected through the lottery system though if you already have a Visa.

Overall, my advice would be to start working for a big firm for your first job out of college. For them, the cost of filing a Visa application on your behalf is a lot less than for a MM PE shop. Once you have the Visa, it will be much easier to make the switch to where you ultimately want to be.

Also, do me a favor and enter the Diversity Lottery if your home country qualifies. It's a free shot at a Green Card. It paid off big time for me.

Apr 15, 2015 - 2:59pm

Several friends in banking on H1Bs did (both middle market funds as well as at least one megafund that I am aware of). I have seen them do it in their first or even in their 3rd year. Keep in mind that they were on approved H1Bs, not OPT. So what I can tell you is that there are definitely funds out there that will sponsor you. What % of funds out of the total fund universe, I don't know. It's impossible to tell because you will never know when precisely your citizenship status (or lack thereof I should say) caused you not to get the look for an interview.

Personally, if I were in your shoes, I wouldn't let this be a distraction from recruiting. Focus on getting your resume out there and on making introductions via headhunters. Certain variables are out of your control - if you let them hold you back, chances are you will miss out on opportunities. Just give it your best shot and cast a wide net, knowing it's been done before.

Apr 16, 2015 - 8:39am

Good question . Just to say this upfront, I'm not an immigration lawyer, so you should take my view with a grain of salt and definitely consult a professional. I have less confidence in my understanding here than I have with situations where you're already approved.

Here is how I think it works. H1B applications are accepted starting April 1 each year. Within a short amount of time, the ceiling of 85,000 visas is reached, which means that all visas will be assigned by lottery (this has been the case in the vast majority of years, except those immediately following the 2007/2008 meltdown). If you are selected in the lottery, you will get your H1B status on October 1 the same year. So from the moment you apply, assuming you are eventually selected, you will only really be on OPT from graduation through October (this is assuming you are student on F-1, but I don't know your circumstances). However, if you are not selected, that is a different matter - you then have to try again next year, and "bridge" the time until April 1 next year with additional OPT.

I don't know what your individual circumstances are - whether you are still a college senior and are about to go on OPT after your graduation this year or already into your first year on another job. What I do know is that if you are still a senior, in order to apply for an H1B, you pretty much need your university degree in hand. If your graduation is in May or June, that can be tough luck for this year's process because it's late, so you may have to apply next year (this is from my vague recollection from my college days - again, check with a lawyer).

Now, to your question, my somewhat low-confidence guess is that if you're on OPT and don't have an H1B stamp in your passport yet, that's effectively a lottery selection risk for an employer because they will have to file a brand new application on your behalf, and they have no guarantee you will get one of those 85,000 visas. Even if another employer has already initiated a petition on your behalf, if you're not approved yet, that would mean you have to re-file that petition if you switch jobs (since the old petition is stale now). It's different from re-assigning an approved petition. I'm not saying there are no employers who will take that risk, but I would think it does matter. So in my mind, it's paramount to secure that initial H1B. If you're in banking and your bank has filed a petition for you, I would play it safe and make sure the timing works out so you will definitely have a stamp by the time you leave for PE land. Once you have that lottery selection risk behind you, it becomes much easier.

Apr 17, 2015 - 10:31am


Just to build on this, would Canadians/Mexicans be able to go through with Trade NAFTA visas and be less harmed throughout the process?

You would think so, but a lot of people don't properly understand the TN process and / or are uncomfortable having to fudge your offer letter. Following the crisis, the was anecdotal evidence of higher scrutiny at the border and people being turned away (I know of a MBB consultant who got denied entry coming back from a client meeting...). To be fair, it is a fairly poorly designed program.

There's lot of canadian working in finance so it helps a lot when you recruit in place where people have used TN in the past (nobody stays on them though, everyone I know who started on a TN switched to an H1B the second they could), but overall, I would say that when recruiting, H1B > TN > OPT > nothing

Apr 19, 2015 - 11:36pm

I personally did not have my non-US citizenship be an impediment to landing a PE gig. Granted, I was fortunate enough to have received an H1B within my first year of banking, but there was someone else at my bank who received an upper MM PE offer for an immediate start despite being on OPT. The firm was even willing to work with that person to relocate them temporarily to an office outside of the US in the event that they did not receive an H1B on the first try. I wouldn't worry about it if I were you and concentrate on what is within your control, which is crushing your interviews!

Mar 24, 2018 - 10:44pm

Jumping in here - just received an offer from a MM PE shop. I'm a non-US citizen on H-1B I had my H-1B approved last year and got the stamp in November. I'm a second year tho. I did try recruiting in my first year while I was on OPT, but it really didn't go anywhere - had a few initial conversations with HHs and they all expressed concerns over it. Managed to get a first round with a MM fund but they told me explicitly that they wouldn't be able to continue the process as I had't secured my H-1B yet..
TLDR: recruiting on OPT will be very very challenging, as the funds are taking a huge risk (only hire 3-5 associates for a class, so losing 1 is a big deal); however, once you have H-1B secured, it's usually not a big concern any more and most legit shops are willing to support the transfer process.

Apr 29, 2020 - 12:42am

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Apr 29, 2020 - 1:42am

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