Job opportunities for International student with ID Masters


I am currently about to finish my MechE Masters from Carnegie Mellon and am planning to get an ID Masters (already applied). I see american ID students take up Interaction Design jobs as there is lack of ID jobs. I am international student. Would it be more difficult for me? Do ID firms even sponsor for H1-B’s? I do not want to spend 3 years getting an ID Masters and then realizing that the opportunities are too few :unamused: . Any advice/views would be very helpful :slight_smile:

Yes, agencies and firms do hire ID through H1b visas but until there is a serious visa reform in the US, there is a serious risk you won’t win one.
Even if you and your employer do everything right, there are still so many applicants each year for the visas (mostly from IT) that a lottery is almost certain. Last year chances were way below 50%.
I had this happen to me and even though an H1-B was filed for on my behalf, I didn’t win and had to leave my job.
As if getting an ID position in SF isn’t hard enough…
This is affecting firm as well. It becomes harder and harder to plan recruitment.

So I would definitely factor that into you decision making.

In my experience, the larger the organization, the more familiar they are with the process. Nike and frog both had international designers. For a small firm or company the cost and effort might be just too high a burden.

I am aware of the lottery and willing to take that risk. My only worry is design firms willing to hire an international student.

Would you consider firms like Mixer Group, Synapse, Motiv, Smart Design, RKS, Teams Design, Lunar etc. (I know thats a long list :smiley: ) as huge firms? I might take the risk as I love ID. So much for following passion I guess.

Lunar is owned by McKinsey which is pretty large.
Teams is HQ’d in Germany so there might be opportunity there.

I would consider frog and IDEO large. 300+ people.


Thanks for the reply :smiley:

What a lot of firms do is to first offer a J-1 visas for 12-18 months.
Technically called an internship or traineeship, it is often practically much more like junior position and a way for US based firms to get designers from abroad into their studio and both parties get to use this limited time as a trail period.

The J visa is easy to get year round, low commitment and there are no quotas.
Also, no caps on salary so some studio will pay a competitive Jr. Designers salary even though it says “intern” in the paperwork.

Most of the firms you mention do this or have done this and have hired people this way.
So I would approach them through the J-1 route first and then during this time, have them apply for an H-1.
This makes also sense from a timing perspective as H-1b can only be applied for starting April and take 6 months to process.

Hi bepster,
Thanks for the reply. Currently, I am already on F-1 visa as a student in US (MechE Masters CMU). Ideally I could apply for a job right now but want to experience ID studio life :smiley: