In today’s interconnected world, hiring international talent is an increasingly viable option for employers looking to hire candidates who possess unique skill sets and global perspectives. This has certainly been the case in Cleveland, which is home to the nation’s seventh largest concentration of college-educated immigrants.[1] Moreover, Northeast Ohio’s large health and education employers, which are part of the “eds and meds” sectors that are helping to drive the region’s economy, often serve as magnets for attracting international job seekers.


Nevertheless, a June 2015 survey conducted by ERC (Employer Resource Council) on hiring trends and practices discovered that, in spite of workforce shortages in certain key sectors, not all employers in the region are prepared or even strongly driven to tap into the international talent pool. ERC compiled responses from over one hundred manufacturing, nonmanufacturing, and non-profit employers related to their current policies and practices regarding recruiting and hiring international candidates. Only one percent of the organizations surveyed said that they actively recruit and hire international candidates; fifty-three percent of the respondents said that they inquired about a candidates’ authorization to work in the United States; and, a surprising number of organizations surveyed, thirty-three percent, acknowledged that their organization would not hire international candidates.

 We acknowledge that the process of hiring international talent can seem daunting for employers given the varieties of types of visas available and lack of understanding of the laws regarding hiring candidates that are not U.S. citizens. The H-1B visa, for instance, allows candidates with a four-year degree to work in the U.S. for three years, with the possibility of filing an extension to work in the U.S. for another three years. Employers can, however, take advantage of the OPT (Optional Practical Training) program for recent graduates before needing to file for an H-1B, which allows recent graduates to work for one or two years under their student visa.

 Employers looking to retain employees are often concerned by the temporary status available to OPT students or H1B workers. Survey responses indicated that eighteen percent of employers surveyed ask candidates whether they will require sponsorship in the future.

Employing a highly skilled, diverse workforce is essential for organizations that hope to successfully compete in a global business environment. Global Cleveland provides resources and information related to hiring international talent to facilitate the process of building connections by helping to educate area employers.

On September 9th, 2015 Global Cleveland will host a Global Employer Breakfast to educate employers on the value and process of hiring international and to launch a series of roundtables focused on these topics. Speakers include Joseph Cabral, Chief Human Resource Officer at the Cleveland Clinic, and leading immigration attorney Margaret W. Wong. More information about this informative program can be found on Global Cleveland’s website here.

Tapping into Ohio’s growing international talent pool is not only good business for employers but it also makes good economic sense for the State of Ohio.  During the 2013-2014 academic year, over 29,000 international students attended Ohio colleges and universities. Nationally, eighty percent of international students attending U.S. colleges and universities pursue degrees in business, management and/or one of the STEM disciplines (science, technology, engineering and mathematics). Moreover, roughly half of our nation’s graduate students in pursuit of an advanced degree in a STEM field are foreign-born.

A report prepared and recently released by the Ohio Board of Regents discusses the tremendous economic advantage that comes from retaining our state’s international students. As it is, Ohio ranks seventh in the nation in terms of international student retention. Increasing the percentage of international student retention to fifty percent benefits every Ohio employer and resident by generating $95.1 million in revenue and supporting 1,200 additional jobs.[2]

These facts are worthy of consideration by those in a position to establish and implement hiring policies and practices.

[1] Piiparinen, Richey and Russell, Jim, “Cleveland: A High-Skilled Immigrant Destination” (2015). Urban Publications. Paper 1264.