One of the most important aspects of a Harvard Business School education is the experience HBS students get from learning among a diverse and international group of peers. Of the Class of 2024, 38% come from abroad, representing 160 international universities.

Despite the qualifications and international experience that these candidates bring not only to HBS but to the U.S. workforce in general, many employers choose to restrict their recruiting to U.S. citizens only. In doing so, they lose out on highly skilled and qualified candidates in hopes of avoiding what is often mistaken as a complicated and expensive process.

The Visa Process Is Easier Than You Think

There are two things every employer should know about recruiting international students:

  • International students do not require visa sponsorship to take part in an internship.
  • International students automatically have at least 12 months of work authorization upon graduation, and many have up to three years.

Because Harvard issues work authorizations for interns, no additional paperwork is required by the employer, and there is no need for the employer to secure a work authorization for a newly-graduated full-time employee. What’s more, there is no cost to the employer. Converting international employees to long-term employees is also an easy process, which more than 25,000 companies complete each year.

“The visa process is what most companies think is challenging,” says Kurt Piemonte, an HBS Career Coach who specializes in working with international students throughout the visa process. “Most [employers] are frustrated by the limited number of H1B visas and are afraid they won’t win a number in the H1B lottery. But students already have up to three years of U.S. work authorization as a benefit of their student immigration status. All HBS students qualify for immediate work authorization, and with the STEM OPT extension, nearly all qualify for 24 additional months of U.S. work authorization. There’s really no reason not to consider hiring international students.”

For more specifics on the visa process, visit our page on hiring international students.

International Students Exhibit Strength of Character

No matter their industry, employers look for candidates with grit, personal strength, and ability in the face of challenge. Few life choices better exemplify these characteristics than leaving your home and support system to move to a new country, on your own, to take on the challenge of a rigorous education.

International students have proven themselves capable of thriving in strenuous new settings, and any employer should be eager to see how they would bring that tenacity to their organization.

International Students are Frequently Multilingual

As the business landscape becomes increasingly international, the ability to fluently communicate in multiple languages is increasingly valuable for teams and organizations. It enables partnerships with organizations that might otherwise have been inaccessible, allows for communication with consumers who might otherwise have been unreachable, and it’s something that comes naturally to international students.

Your Organization Benefits from their Cross-Cultural Experience

Similarly, international students bring the increasingly important experience of cross-cultural understanding. Knowing how to navigate a multicultural group is important not only when leading a team within a global organization, but also when expanding products to new markets. In a new country where cultural norms may be different from those in which a product and organization already exist, having cross-cultural experience will prepare leaders for the ways in which they will need to be ready to adapt.

Recruiting international students may sound like a daunting task if the first thing that comes to mind is time spent filing paperwork with government offices and the potential cost of sponsorship. But understanding the value of the candidates and the ease of the visa process allows employers to make informed decisions about opening their hiring to international students.

To learn more about international student work visas, visit our page on hiring international students.