OPT or Optional Practical Training program ensures that international students on an F1 student visa can gain practical training with a US employer, which coincides with their study course. As per the Department of Homeland Security, over 1.5 million students participated in OPT nationwide until 2017, with participant number being 325,000. However, since then, the numbers have declined.
As per the Pew Research Centre Washington DC, one reason for the decline in OPT participants is the common pitfall of consulting companies’ trap. There is certainly no shortage of employment opportunities but call it a hasty decision or a lack of confidence among candidates that they heavily rely on consulting companies. It is a daunting task for OPT students to find a job and change their immigration status from F1 to H1b. A massive web engulfing the young and talented candidates is body shopping companies. The result being, candidates keep hopping from one project to the other.
What is a consulting company?
A consulting company comprises overseas companies (Indian companies) working in the USA employing OPT or H4 visa candidates. A large drawback for candidates opting for their service is that their payroll gives them a salary/bill rate of around $30-$40 per hour or $60000-$75000 yearly. Another matter of concern is the fake years of experience padded on the resumes and proxy interviews. A candidate is made to add 5-6 years experience onto their resume, whereas a fresh graduate, even with internship experience, would have a total experience of maybe 1 to 1.5 years. Often someone else would be taking proxy interviews for candidates that would get them hired and fired quickly due to the lack of technical skills.
Process of working through a Consulting Company or Working through Multiple layers.
7 Reasons OPT students should avoid Indian Consulting Companies
- Lack of Employer-Employee relationship & Client Letter- Candidates need to ensure that they have proper documentation to maintain their status. For example, suppose an OPT student wants to get his H1B approved under the current immigration requirement. In that case, he needs to justify the H1B Employer-Employee relationship before or after the H1B visa is approved. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers are likely to question international students, their company managers, and employers for the following:
- Does your employer supervise you daily?
- Do you have daily or weekly meetings?
- How your employer controls you, your daily assignments, what products you are working on, and how you are attached to the company?
- Does your employer provide you with insurance or health benefits?
- If working remotely, how are you connected to your employer?
H1B workers were earlier permitted to work at a third-party worksite or the client’s office. However, with proposed changes made to the new regulations by the U.S. citizenship and immigration service, the H1B visa holders must work at the employer’s place of business. Candidates under the consulting companies are made to work for tier 1 and tier 2 vendors under the multiple layers, which don’t depict a clear Employer-Employee relationship. Also, it offers unstable contractual jobs, resulting in the risk of losing the job and eventually immigration status.
- Low-Value Addition- A majority of the Consulting body shopping companies do not offer any value addition to the candidates. Value is added when you learn new technologies and skills and gain some experience contributing to the clients in a meaningful way. Consulting companies make OPT students undergo study notes to crack interviews, self-study, or limited training, done by in-house trainers, candidates, or YouTube. As students do not learn much, they work for a short period and don’t add value to the client; they often are left out of jobs. The circle keeps continuing, and candidates get trapped in a vicious cycle.
- Proxy Interviews/Fake Skype interviews- Consulting companies encourage candidates for proxy interviews to maintain their numbers and brand value. Often OPT students’ risk being blacklisted by the leading companies and losing any chance of making a bright career for themselves. Even if a candidate has the potential, they risk getting ahead with these companies and risk losing their immigration status.
A video went viral sometime back in which a candidate was caught trying to lip sync a Skype interview
You don’t want to be this candidate. Think about the embarrassment and getting blackilisted by every client in the industry.
- Fake Resume- It is not expected out of fresh graduates to have several years of experience. Often these companies would add 4-7 years of experience onto the profile, which generally for OPT students is not more than a year. The lack of expertise is reflected in the candidates frequently being laid off by clients due to their inability to manage or handle the job responsibilities assigned to them, even if they manage to get a job through a proxy interview.
- Blacklisting by Client- OPT students in STEM fields often dream of working for renowned IT companies such as Apple, Google, E-bay, Intel. By opting to collaborate with Consulting/body shopping companies’ candidates run a risk of being blacklisted as the fake resume and proxy interviews end up going in the database of these companies, and you get forever banned from the golden opportunities which you are striving to achieve.
- Under-reporting Taxes- There have been instances in the past years where Indian firms or body shopping companies have come under the light of underreporting taxes. Consulting companies, many a time, have been known to not pay the employer share of taxes to the government, and it has repercussions when the candidate is trying to get his H1b or Green card filed.
- Lower Wages-The salary offers made by these companies at maximum do not go beyond annual $45,000-$70,000, which is almost 40-50% of the bill rate that the client pays. If a candidate worked directly at the client, they could make good remuneration rather than leftover $’s as the multiple layers split the rate between the client and the candidate.
Money Flow When Working with a Consulting Company:
How can OPT students bag full-time employment?
A recent article by Harvard Business Review reported that businesses currently have the highest hiring numbers compared to any decade. While at present, businesses have a tough time hiring the right talent owing to large competitive pricing, lack of skills, outsourcing talent, and sheer time constraints. Census data reported that most people who are hired aren’t even looking for a job, but somebody got them hired.
Staffing companies fill their recruiting funnel with maximum candidates as possible, and a majority of times compromising on facilities. Often these staffing companies would onboard candidates to projects which have a low shelf life. Once the assignment is finished, one is at risk of again looking for permanent employment.
The big question for OPT students is what would work for them to get full-time employment ?
Well, the answer is simple, working hard on your technical skills:
- Sharpen and upgrade your Technical Skills- Regardless of your computer science degree, the key factor that can ensure full-time employment for candidates is the right technical training. Skilled candidates with technical training and hands-on experience working on real-world projects have witnessed better employment opportunities. The current market trend is dominated by ensuring maximum technical skills. Upgrading your tech skills and working on technologies that are in high demand like Python, Java, Hadoop, AWS, MERN stack, Data Science, Machine learning can ensure one is welcomed for full-time employment by clients.
- Work with an established Bootcamp/Upskill Program with a proven Job placement record- You should consider working with a reliable Bootcamp that can upskill you on in-demand technologies, make you work on practical projects, offer interview preparation through mock interview sessions. Thus, ensures that you are ready to face the job market with a strong work portfolio and skills.
How to Get a Good Salary through an Employment /Direct Client Company ?
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- You get employment with Direct clients, wherein you keep 100% of the bill rate.
- You have a direct Employer-Employee relationship, that can assist you in filing and approval of H1b.
- Become great at coding and answering interview questions, so you don’t have to rely on proxy interviews
- Go with confidence to work at client sites as you have the technical expertise and a resume which details projects you have worked on rather than a cooked-up resume.
- Get promoted, not laid off. Every client appreciates an effective and efficient worker who can get the job done.
- Work with top names in the industry like Google, Apple, PayPal, eBay, Cisco, Wells Fargo, Walmart Labs to name a few.
While the competitive tech market challenges the computer science graduates, the difficulty is heightened for OPT students who struggle to maintain their immigration status and look for full-time employment. Consulting or staffing companies offer a glittery picture to candidates and ensure they get blinded by the offer. The only factor which can solidify your place in the job market and bag you full-time employment is enhancing your skills. Learning advanced technologies is the right way to a secure future. Let’s help you in securing a future. SynergisticIT-The best programmers in the bay area…Period!