I Couldn’t Get Sponsored for an H-1B Visa, and Here’s Why

Someday this would all be mine

I remember the very day I received the letter that I had been accepted as an undergraduate student at Johnson & Wales University. I had big dreams and aspirations about what I was going to become upon graduation from one of the best hospitality schools in the United States. I envisioned myself becoming a successful hotelier; the next big thing in Burma.

I remember when I was granted my student visa after hearing that many other Burmese students had been rejected, I just could not have been happier. The following night I had a fiesta with my family and friends to bid them all farewell, and I had a flashback of all the great times I would be leaving behind in Burma.

When I look back at those moments, now that I am a graduate student at Georgetown University working on my degree in public relations and corporate communications, all I can think about is what I should have done differently.

What I did while trying to land a sponsored job

I thought graduating from an American college would set me up for a career in the United States in my chosen field.  In Asia a bachelor’s degree from an American college would have helped me attain a job without much effort.  But that was not how it worked when I tried to find a job in the U.S.

After graduation I started my OPT (Optional Practical Training) with hopes of pursuing a career in the hospitality industry and gaining several years of work experience in America.  I interned at a New York City hotel for a year, hoping it would later turn into a full-time job. But it didn’t, and it ended up being difficult to find an employer who would sponsor me for a work visa.  I interviewed with several hotels who said they couldn’t consider me if I needed sponsorship.

[What one student learned about finding work experience in the U.S.]

It was bad timing for all of us who graduated in 2009, I think. Several hotels that had previously been willing to hire international students had stopped doing so, and the majority of my international friends left the U.S. upon graduation. They could not land a job that would sponsor them either.

But I was determined to stay in the U.S. for a couple of years and gain more work experience. Plus, to be honest, I just didn’t want to go back home right away – this country has really grown on me.

I tried applying to other industries but my educational background was working against me. In my experience, the employers that will sponsor H-1B work visas are looking for applicants who have specialized technical skills, such as engineering or accounting.  A friend of mine, who graduated the same year, landed a sponsored job because of his programming skills. I lacked the technical skills that employers were looking for.

So when I think back on my college education, I wish I had chosen a different path.  I wish I had chosen a technical major such as accounting or finance – a major that would have better served my goal of getting sponsored to work for a few years in the U.S.

Nonetheless, I have to embrace the mistakes I made.  After all, I cannot redo my college education – I can only move forward.  So I am pursuing a graduate degree at Georgetown University, hoping to gain a new skill in public relations and corporate communications.


  1. “The US has 100 times as many Mensa members as Microsoft employees. That’s right–we could fill every member of Microsoft’s staff, including the janitor, with a member of Mensa’s high-IQ society, 100 times over and still not run out of geniuses.”

    Sorry, I can’t help but kick this one around, very hard.

    A Gorilla in Woodside scored around 90 on an IQ test.

    There is a chimpanzee that can talk verbally, it can barely do it, and you have to listen very carefully to understand it, but yes there are talking apes.

    I just don’t believe that IQ is critical, for humans. Having a good IQ is important, but there are several other factors that greatly magnify human IQ,

    Chimpanzees can learn by watching, but they filter out any unnecessary movements (for example they remove waving of the wand, as part of the operations necessary get at food from a mechanical contraption).

    Chimpanzees often fail test related to trust and patience, that humans (after certain ages) routinely pass.

    Our brains are only 3x bigger than the average Gorilla, but only about 10% smarter on an IQ test. Humans were just as intelligent 5000 years ago, why didn’t they (at that time) invent an atomic bomb or build rockets that could reach the moon?

    Well the answer is that our civilization greatly magnifies our intelligence. (just as it does in those apes).

    – Language (most languages contain adequate vocabulary)
    – Willingness to learn from and to train others
    – Ability to seek out and gather ideas from others
    – Literacy and general availability of books
    – Tools and tool availability

    I think intelligence should actually be measured as the rate of new ideas per unit of time as it occurs in the mind. The rest is just an internal filtration and search procedure.

    Frankly, agriculture, is a normal response of a group of humans, with many ideas in their heads, looking for a way to get food. It was invented and re-invented a million times before it took root in an urban environment (that archeologists are more likely to find while digging).

  2. The selection process for the H-1B visa is unfair–both to American programmers, and to foreigners who are not programmers.

    I wish you had got your visa, and that a less-needed “indian software developer” who is underqualified compared to the American talent pool had their visa denied.

    We’re approving too many Indian programmers based on a racial stereotype. A long time ago, when the US labor market was tight and only the best Indians were selected, Indian programmers we chose were better than the Americans, on average. Now they aren’t.

    Becuase we already selected many of the best Indians, and because the job market isn’t as good as it was, the educational and work qualifications of Indian programmers are no longer as good as the Americans who are available.

    Below is my story:


    I was offered a job at microsoft last year. I turned it down.

    One of the reasons for my decision was one of the Indian programmers told me “you don’t just hit the publish button to deploy your code. It’s a complicated process here.” I replied by asking–since cloud is their new strategy–if they use multiple virtual servers to split test different versions of the website. Different versions could be stored on different cloud servers, and changes in the conversion rate tracked. It was a good interview response. But the statement made bothered me.

    If I wrote something, it wouldn’t get deployed to production easily. He implied that he, and his friends would be an obstacle–even if the boss decided to hire me (which the manager did.)

    I suspect that racism among Indians is the true reason for the “shortage” in this economy. The development staff–in a world that includes China, Russia,and Mexico–is 60%-70% Indian. The racism of Indians is the only explanation–India is NOT the highest scoring country in STEM or in any other field.

    But Indians are among the most racist people the US imports. They simply refuse to work, or cooperate with anyone who is not Indian.

    The result is–once you have a 70% Indian development staff, it must be 100% or nobody gets any work done.

    The US has 100 times as many Mensa members as Microsoft employees. That’s right–we could fill every member of Microsoft’s staff, including the janitor, with a member of Mensa’s high-IQ society, 100 times over and still not run out of geniuses.

    So, at the right price–which Microsoft is WILLING to pay–geniuses exist in the US market.

    The simple, and sad truth, is Indians won’t work with qualified Americans–or for that matter, qualified people of any non-Indian nationality.

    Indians are SO racist in the workplace that people are scared to talk about it. If you call an Indian racist, you’re fired. If you call a white American racist, he asks you to forgive him for whatever he might have done wrong. Indians are known for being so racist that, as a common expression goes “Indians are never racist.”

    One Indian, whose intelligence I did admire, once told me sarcastically, “OK, so you’re smart. I guess I’ll just pack my bags and go home.” He instead choose to play political games with his coworkers to ensure accomplishing anything would be difficult.

    The fact is, H-1B is not nearly diverse enough. There’s talented people all over the world. Many of these countries have math scores MUCH higher than India’s.

    We need to make sure H-1B is diverse enough that there is no chance for racism amongst the immigrants whom we are giving A LOT of power and authority to.

    It’s as if the Army were to recruit mercenaries to be officers because they’re both smart and cheaper. While that decision may be questionable, I sure wouldn’t want all the mercenaries to be from the same country. Every mercenary may have a second loyalty, but they shouldn’t all agree on what it is.

    India is not as diverse a country as the US. Indians have not been taught to be tolerant like the Americans have.

    We’re going to accept them. The question is, if we turn over the keys to Indians and allow the to “own” an important software development center, will they accept us?

    If the answer is no, and we want opportunity for Americans, wouldn’t it be better to import a diverse group of Chinese, Mexican, Kenyan, Indian, and Russian programmers? With such a diverse group, wouldn’t it be guaranteed the new development team would also tolerate an American or two?

    Two questions for your non-racist Indian friends:

    Are Indians smarter than Americans?

    If they are smarter than Americans, are they Americans?

    1. Many factors can drive bigotry, poverty for example.

      Poverty can affect how people go about hiring others. Trust is a huge factor in hiring when jobs are scarce. Trust, and how we determine trust, are typically based upon feeling and not anything logical.

      As a result, relying on trust (as first magnitude), and not examination to determine the best candidate is a big mistake in tech hiring.

      I would say, among Indians, bigotry level seems a step (just a step in 5) lower than in other groups. But that is just my feeling based upon experience. But you have to look at the individual, to really know anything.

      And harboring 80% of the average untreated bigotry, is not good.

      But, generally we get people from other countries, including India. That are aware of America, and actually want to participate in pluralism. And so, over time, they overcome their own issues. They make friends with people, not of their own ethnic background. And they gain greater trust, and some of that bigotry goes away.

      That is why the H-1b visa is so aweful, H-1b is non-immigrant visa. People on it can get a feeling of disenfranchisement. For more than 200 years, traditional immigration to the United States meant you were coming to stay your whole life.

      But H-1b (like crack), is an invention of the late 20th century. Corporations have become addicted to it. CEO’s get sense (especially those earning more than 200,000$ in profit each year from their employees) of entitlement about this government program.

      I have to ask myself, is bigotry just another form of entitled thinking? They really look similar. And a person who grew up in a poor situation, where jobs were few, and promotion (or even getting a job) happened in this order:

      – Family, friends, religious affiliation, neighbor, ethic background, similar body features, look like someone I can trust…,qualifications.

      Frankly, I think its got to be tough. Some Americans harbor great racial bigotry. Typically it is that impoverished youth. I have European ancestry, and at times I have been a victim of racial bigotry. Several times, for no reason, I have been called “White-boy” (along with other rotten comments) by people I had had no initial contact with. I have seen an Indian family, very badly treated at a (convenience store), I stepped in, but you know, that clerk probably gave a lot of people a very hard time before I showed up, and probably happened after again after I left.

      You know, we Americans have been treated for bigotry. I had a very liberal education, and it included measures to help us overcome bigotry. Most of that happened in high-school (getting kids through all or most of highschool is critical).

      We made a sincere effort in this country to end bigotry and racism, and we are benefiting from it. But in other countries they don’t have resources to do this (or they just haven’t had their 1960’s moment).

      People can pull themselves out of it though, with their conscience. It is a shame that you did not take that job, because you could have made a difference if you had had the opportunity.

      Clearly, trust was a big factor in your decision not to accept that position.

  3. Well, Its refreshing to not hear that “Entitled” because I graduated attitude, from someone who could not obtain an H-1b or other long-term visa. The spirit of the H-1b visa is that it was meant for engineering and science related fields. Although, I think quite wrongly, it is sometimes used for completely non-mathematical/technical fields. Also, I really question that we have any shortage of accountants or financial analysts, especially after the huge layoff at Wall Street firms during this last recession. And, I have seen quite a few U.S. citizens start as clerical help, then get degrees in accounting with sponsorship from their employers. So using the H-1b to fill accounting/analyst jobs with graduates, is actually a huge waste of human potential, actually weakens U.S. businesses. Just see the movie “Pursuit of Happyness” (yes happiness is misspelled in the title) and you’ll see what I am talking about.

  4. The degree in public relations probably won’t help you when it comes to an employer sponsored visa.

    Employment sponsored visas is really a form of indentured servitude and creates a second class of worker unable to negotiate for market wages and working conditions. It gives employers the upper hand, harming not only foreign workers but indirectly harming American workers. Why hire an American when you can hire someone more easy to exploit?

    The solution is simply – take employers out of the equation. Immigration shouldn’t be about them. It is about us, as a nation. We should be creating future citizens, not a pool of temporary and exploitable labor for corporations.

    Tech companies have better lobbyists so those companies get the visas because they were able to convince Congress that there is a shortage. Despite the fact that there is actually a surplus of STEM graduates – most of whom enter other occupations because they can’t find a job that matches their degree.

    The hospitality industry is one of the worst exploiters of immigrants here legally and otherwise. Consider yourself lucky that you aren’t going into that field.

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