Monday, April 25, 2011

Job-Hunting for International Students...

By Yuko Aoki

Our Master of Architecture program at Southern Illinois University has five international students in the Spring 2011 semester. They come from India, Libya, Japan, and Taiwan. I believe some of them want to have some working experience in the U.S. before they go back to their own countries.

Most international students come to study with a student visa (F-1 visa) in the U.S. Under F-1 visa status, international students are not allowed to work outside of their schools. However, the U.S. Department of State gives chances to work for a year wherever the students want when they finish their degrees if the international students apply for Optional Practical Training (OPT). At SIUC, international students can get OPT instructions and forms at the International Students and Scholars office (ISS).

Then the students need to read all the instructions, take passport size pictures, fill out an I-765 and I-765 card, get approvals from department advisors, and make an appointment with Carla Coppi ( or Phillip Lindberg (, 453-5774 or 536-7771. When meeting with one of them, the students have to bring their passport, I-94, and I-20 with them.

The final process the international students have to go through is to send checks ($380 on April 12th, 2011) with the forms to USCIS and wait for the official I-765 card to arrive. The process will take 3 to 4 months, so ISS suggests students start filling out the forms 3 months before their graduation. Also, each student is only permitted to work within his or her area of study.

If you are confused by what I am talking about, you are probably in no need of applying because you have a different visa or you are a resident.

Even if international students apply and got permission for OPT, it is difficult to get jobs because of the economic down turn. I hope that I will get a job and be able to start working on August 29th 2011 which is when my work permission becomes a valid.

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