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While the current job market is competitive enough as is, it only gets worse for a good percentage of Penn's international student population.

With many students waiting to hear back from prospective employers about summer internship offers, international students have another worry to add to their list - immigration issues.

"There are a limited amount of firms open for international students to apply to because a lot of companies don't want to deal with more paperwork for visas," Wharton junior Jun Woo Park said.

International students attend universities in the United States on an F-1 visa. Along with this visa comes a 12-month period of time the student can stay in the U.S. beyond graduation called Optional Practical Training.

This length of stay is significantly affected by summer internships - the length of time of each internship is subtracted from an international student's OPT, resulting in less time after graduation to work in the country.

This requirement exerts additional pressure on international students when it comes to finding lucrative summer internships. Because many employers select their eventual full-time employees from their summer intern pool, students have to make sure they work for a company during the summer that will sponsor their visas after graduation.

"There are actually a select group of firms that specifically state they will not hire international students," said Kelly Cleary. senior associate director at Career Services,

"It takes tens of thousands of dollars to sponsor visas for international students and a lot of larger firms don't want to have to deal with all that," she added.

After graduation, international students wishing to work in the U.S. have to apply for an H-1B visa, which is the official work visa for non-US residents.

Last year alone, only 65,000 of approximately 130,000 applicants were selected to receive H-1B visas, according to government statistics.

"You apply for the visa and if you get it, then great. But if you don't get it, any company can basically dump you or ship you overseas," Park said.

Chances are so slim in part because all international professionals who wish to work in the U.S. must have an H-1B visa - not just international students.

Some international students said they were passed up for summer internships by their first-choice firms because of their immigration status.

Referring to one of the larger investment banking firms, one Wharton junior said, "if I wasn't international, this firm gave me definite hints that I would have received an offer for their offices in New York." The student wished to remain anonymous because of the sensitive nature of the issue.

Park, who accepted a position with Citigroup's Investment Banking division, said he chose the firm because it offered the most job security. In the event that he doesn't receive an H-1B visa, Citigroup is willing to place him in offices overseas after graduation and bring him back to the U.S. when he does acquire the visa.

"I've seen many cases where the firms that only have offices in the States don't offer internships to international students," Park added.

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