Newswise — BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- A unique new program at Indiana University's Kelley School of Business will help U.S. employers maneuver through the complex immigration process to hire its international graduates this spring.
Called the IU Immigration Bridge Program, the innovative initiative brings together international students and recruiting firms with a top immigration law firm -- Fragomen, Del Rey, Bernsen & Loewy LLP -- to navigate through the H-1B visa application process.
Nearly one-third of the 6,500 international students attending IU Bloomington are enrolled at the Kelley School, which has partnered with the IU Office of International Services to offer the program.
The program, available to Kelley undergraduate and graduate students with work visa needs, is unique to business schools in the United States. School officials are aware of one other such program at an American university, for international students in science, engineering, technology and medicine.
Idalene Kesner, dean of the Kelley School and the Frank P. Popoff Chair of Strategic Management, said the IU Immigration Bridge Program is another example of an innovation from the Kelley School to meet the needs both of companies recruiting at the school and an important group of students.
"We work closely with all of our students and our hiring companies to find out what their challenges are and how we can help solve them," Kesner said. "The Immigration Bridge Program is just another example of the progressive, innovative thinking we encourage at Kelley. There really is no room for the status quo in this increasingly global world of business."
The Kelley School program makes the introductions and helps to streamline the process. Employers pay the application and legal fees, which total about $4,000. This includes all filings and governmental costs. The program does not guarantee a visa sponsorship, a visa or employment for students, but it does improve the situation for international students being recruited both on and off campus.
Paul Binder, associate director of graduate career services at the Kelley School, said the program is designed to help students who have a solid prospect for a job in the United States with employers who are hesitant to go through the visa application process.
"A lot of them will say to our students, 'I'm sorry. You're a great candidate, but we don't hire internationals' … Employers often think it is cumbersome," Binder said. "With this program, that barrier is mitigated if they truly want to hire an international student.
"This program removes two main barriers to hiring international students: paperwork and perception of cost. If they really want to hire someone, this program helps to get it done," he added.
The target market initially was small- to mid-market firms who recruit off-campus, because most large corporations have in-house legal counsel, Binder said. "But we are hearing from more and more companies that recruit at Kelley who are becoming more decentralized. They see a real benefit to working with a law firm that does this work every day, thus controlling their costs."
A recent survey by the Council for Global Immigration found that many companies spend nearly $200,000 on outside counsel to process visa applications for prospective hires, and larger firms spend more than $2 million annually.
Alan Mielcuszny, a member of Kelley’s Dean’s Council and vice president of development at Emerson, which recruits at the Kelley School, said a program like this allows recruiters to have more flexibility.
"The Immigration Bridge Program facilitates the visa process for employers that otherwise do not have the capability or expertise to hire international students," Mielcuszny said. "It will encourage many more great businesses to then consider and hire Indiana University’s talented international students and is another example of why the Kelley School of Business is ranked No. 1 in career services."
The next phase for the IU Immigration Bridge Program will be to serve students enrolled in other academic units across the campus, such as the College of Arts and Sciences and the Jacobs School of Music.
Employment rates for Kelley graduates from the United States have been strong, but for international students, the timeline for finding employment tends to be longer as they often go off campus to look for opportunities due to sponsorship restrictions at many companies.
"Our international students have a talent and background that is unique, which companies want to take advantage of, to give them a competitive advantage," Binder said. "We live in a globally linked economy, and companies are telling us that they need that diversity of perspectives to be able to effectively compete worldwide. These international students give those companies that international perspective."