Department of Educational Administration


First Advisor

Crystal E. Garcia

Date of this Version

Summer 7-22-2022

Document Type



Tay, YX. (2022). Discrimination in the Employment Search: Narratives from International Students of Color [Master's thesis, University of Nebraska-Lincoln].


A THESIS Presented To The Faculty Of The Graduate College At The University Of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Master of Arts, Major: Educational Administration, Under the Supervision of Professor Crystal E. Garcia. Lincoln, Nebraska: July, 2022

Copyright © 2022 Yi Xuen Tay


International students are “taking away jobs from Americans” (Citizenship and Immigration Services Ombudsman, 2020). Such a narrative popularized by the previous Trump administration positioned international students in the U.S. as threats to the country, and in this case, American workers. This narrative also targeted existing immigration policies, Optional Practical Training (OPT) and H-1B Specialty Occupations work visa, for allowing international students/nonimmigrants to work in the U.S. Yet, this narrative failed to account to the employment search experiences of international students, or international Students of Color, the subject of this study. While OPT and H-1B present as opportunities for international students, these immigration policies also pose multiple barriers to international students (McFadden & Seedorff, 2017; Monahan, 2018). Besides, international Students of Color are subjected to discrimination due to their race/ethnicity, culture, country of origin, and perceived immigration status (Lee, 2007; Lee, 2010; Yao et al., 2019; Yao & George Mwangi, 2022). The current study uses narrative inquiry and counter-storytelling to analyze and examine the job search experiences of international Students of Color in the U.S. Informed by neo-racism (Lee, 2007), racist nativism (Pérez Huber et al., 2008), and agency (Bandura, 2006), narratives shared by four participants shed light on the discrimination international Students of Color experience during their job search; the racist and nativist policies that led to the discriminatory practices in hiring international students; as well as how participants respond to these challenges. The findings indicate that international Students of Color are discriminated against during their job search on their race/ethnicity and perceived immigration status, informed by racist and nativist policies like OPT and H-1B. The findings also indicate that participants have enacted agency during their job search, especially around their nonimmigrant status as international students. This study signals the need for U.S. higher education institutions to not only provide tailored career support to international students, but also to advocate for international Students of Color who do experience discrimination and systemic barriers in the U.S.

Advisor: Crystal E. Garcia