Chinese Students in US May Seek Jobs at Home

Students speaking with recruiters at the Shaanxi job fair held in NYC on March 29. (Photo via World Journal)

With the U.S. tightening up its H-1B work visas, many Chinese international students are starting to set their eyes on their home country for jobs. A job fair hosted by Shaanxi province, China, in New York on March 29 attracted more than 300 prospective job seekers who are graduating Ph.D. candidates or have already gotten a Ph.D. from American universities. Many of them took flights or drove for hours from other states to attend the job fair. They said the higher pay Chinese employers offer, being close to home, and the opportunity of playing a significant role at work are also among the reasons that make the openings in China appealing.

The employers at the job fair are all universities in Shaanxi province that have faculty or researcher openings. Xiaohan Sun, who is getting her J.D. soon from Indiana University, was one of the job seekers. Going to the university to study law five years ago, Sun said competing with her native English-speaking classmates in a language that’s not her mother tongue means that she has to work extra hard. “I often work to the wee hours,” she said.

Now the H-1B work visa policy is tightening up and Sun said she worries about her job opportunities in the U.S. “Many students who graduated earlier couldn’t find a job because they don’t have green cards,” she said.

Sun said once she learned about the job fair, she flew to New York a day earlier to make sure to be here on time. Her qualifications impressed several potential employers at the job fair, which reassured her about going back to China.

Xiaoshuang Shi, 30, is graduating from the University of Florida in June when he will get his Ph.D. in biomedical engineering. He said although some of his friends who graduated earlier had successfully applied and gotten their green cards, he is worried about the harsh attitude toward immigrants in the U.S. today. Shi, who also flew to New York a day earlier to prepare for the job fair, said: “It has only been a few decades since the repeal of the Chinese Exclusion Act. Now the general atmosphere is worsening. Going back to China to work makes you feel you are more appreciated.”

Wenxi Yan, an accounting major who drove six hours to the job fair from Canada, said she was attracted by the geographic location of the jobs at the Chinese universities and their potential positive influence on her children’s education. “I am an only child, and I am from Xi’an (the capital city of Shaanxi). I’d like to go back to work in my hometown,” Yan said.

Yanrong Chen, 26, a Ph.D. candidate in computer science at John Hopkins University, was referred to the job fair by her mentor. She took a bus for three hours to come to New York from Baltimore for the day. She said although computer science is hot in the job market in the U.S., she is on the research track. So she’d like to explore broader opportunities.

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