The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

SMU professor Susanne Scholz in the West Bank in 2018.
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Sara Hummadi, Video Editor • May 18, 2024

Alum gives international students business advice

Southern Methodist University’s group of international students anxiously awaited the much-anticipated seminar that was about to take place in Junkins Hall, Room 101 Thursday afternoon at 5 p.m.

As the room filled to the brim, the extra students and interested potential employees stood in the back, eager to discover their marketable abilities and ready to overcome the battle they wage every time they interview for a job.

Finally, Julia L. Stommes, an immigration lawyer practicing in San Francisco, Calif. and a graduate of SMU, began her seminar, entitled, “How to Market Yourself to U.S. Employers.”

She started by focusing on the problems that most international students face dealing with the claims many companies make against international hiring and their lack of true understanding of immigration laws. For example, most American companies do not even have an immigration lawyer on staff, and they believe it is expensive, maybe even a hassle, to hire a foreign employee.

Stommes said, “[D]on’t get discouraged,” and that “you can get past” such narrow-minded employers. She urged all the international SMU students to stand up for their rights and prove their intelligence in all the immigration aspects of hiring.

To counteract these untrue company claims, Stommes first spoke of the lack of lawyers in companies today. Most employers either rely on labor counsel for advice or base their decisions on past work experiences. Many companies even outsource their human resource functions by hiring recruiters who work to get the “easiest and quickest” hires that they can. Unfortunately, too often this does not include foreign employees.

She moved on to denounce the “hassle” many American companies claim they face when hiring foreign employees. First of all, most companies complain about the initial costs of hiring a foreign worker. Yet, on average the immigration costs amount to $5,000 per worker, while with recruiting and advertising costs, hiring a U.S. worker for a professional position amounts to $15,000 an employee.

Stommes encouraged students by restating, “It’s just getting in the door,” and then they can prove their value.

She said, “You are all very desirable employees for the company,” because they know they can “expect loyalty from you on the back end.” Most foreign employees are hired with a guaranteed work time of at least three years and possibly even six for the company they choose.

Secondly, while many American companies complain of the time involved in hiring a foreign employee and the mounds of paperwork to fill out, this is not the case in most situations. By obtaining an H1-B, a work permit that most foreign nationals need in which they find a U.S. company to sponsor them, or an H-3, a training visa, an international worker can be hired within 15 business days. Furthermore, with a J-1, a training visa specifically for professionals, some foreign workers can be hired as quickly as within a week.

As Stommes continued with ways for foreign nationals to counter with the phrase “that’s not correct,” she gave some strategies to overcome possible resistance. These include obtaining a CPT or OPT, both periods of practical training in the United States before getting hired, commonly known as internships among most students, getting a master’s degree from a U.S. university and possibly looking at work in an international company for a short time before applying to work for a U.S. company.

If you must work for an international company, it is possible to work as a manager in one’s home company for one year and then return to the United States to work as a manager, skipping the labor testing in the process.

“You may think the worst thing in the world is to leave, but in the end it may help your career,” Stommes said.

Stommes encouraged all of the students to get out there and work at finding a job that is right for them. “You have to be your own person guiding yourself through the world,” Stommes said as she closed the seminar.

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