Besides sharing master’s degrees, two international students who graduated from The University of Texas of Arlington shared a challenge when applying for jobs.
Nihar Suryawanshi and Omkar Sahasrabudhe, who graduated with master’s degrees in computer science and engineering in the spring, found themselves spending a lot of time applying for jobs, only to discover late in the application process that those companies were hiring applicants with H-1B work visas, not F-1 student visas.
An F-1 student visa is issued to international students who are attending a U.S. college or university. The H-1B is a work visa in the United States that allows employers to temporarily hire foreign workers in specialty occupations for up to six years. Some large U.S. tech companies hire H-1B visa-holders on a regular basis.
“With everything going online during this coronavirus, we had to come up with a way to make it easier on us and other international students during the application process,” Sahasrabudhe said.
Suryawanshi and Sahasrabudhe, who are both from Pune, India, decided to write a computer program that sorted and prioritized companies that hire employees with H-1B visas. Their plug-in filters these companies into three categories of H-1B acceptance: high, medium and low.
The Mavericks wrote the plug-in for the Google Chrome browser, calling it the LinkedIn H1B Checker. It is currently free and available for download in Google’s web store. The UTA alumni plan to expand the plug-in to work for other job-searching platforms, such as Indeed and Glassdoor.
It’s received a positive response from the international student community over LinkedIn, with more than 1,000 active users from Colombia, India, Brazil, Japan, Switzerland, Canada and Qatar.
“We thought, ‘What if we could separate companies and help us to direct our job searches to companies who were hiring international students?'” Suryawanshi said.
The most important aspect of the innovation is that the two have landed jobs with Amazon Web Services. They say they could not have built the plug-in if it hadn’t been for their education at UT Arlington.
They credited Elizabeth Diaz, a senior lecturer in computer science and engineering (CSE), with helping them understand web applications and web data management. Bahram Khalili, an associate professor in CSE, helped them learn software engineering.