Hofstra Pulse Magazine

Shaun Foster: Playing in America

By: Christina Ferraro

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(Photo by: Christina Ferraro)

Students who enter the United States to study make up about 1.7 million of

temporary admissions to our country per year. The United States government

caps employment-based permanent visas at 140,000 per year. Many of these

international students want to remain in America, but have a slim chance.

Shaun Foster, a Hofstra student from Liverpool, England, came to the United States

to play soccer and earn a degree. After spending four years here, he decided he

wants to stay and find his dream job.

Foster found that with his degree in Rhetorical Studies and his interest in sports,

he has more opportunities in America to succeed. “In England there aren’t many

paid sporting jobs outside of the professional tier, here, there are numerous

college positions,” said Foster. “There are also many more companies in the

communications department compared to England. In England there is only five

major cities to get a job with my degree.”

Foster is graduating in December 2014. He has run into some trouble figuring out

a way to stay in the United States after he graduates. Many foreign students like

Foster have the same issue, they want to stay in the United States but cannot obtain

the documents they need.

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(Photo by: Glenn Chin Photography)

“Not only are there more opportunities here, I’ve also really enjoyed my time,” said

Foster.

In order to stay, Foster will need an F-1 Optical Practical Training (OPT) visa which

will allow him to find a job related to his degree. OPT authorization is authorized by

the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (U.S.C.I.S.). The authorization process

can take two to three months to complete and the maximum amount of time granted

to work on F-1 OPT status is one year.

Friends of Foster see that he is a confident speaker and that he could succeed with

a Rhetorical Studies degree. “I saw him speak at the Pele convention in the spring

and he absolutely killed it. It would be a shame if he couldn’t figure out a way to stay

because he is really good at what he does,” said Tyler Botte, 22, Hofstra University

alum. Botte is Foster’s former roommate and former teammate of three years.

If Foster does find a way to stay in the United States with F-1 OPT authorization, he

can continue his stay for a longer period of time if he receives an H1B visa. The H1B

visa allows employers to hire international professionals and students to work in

the United State for up to a total of six years.

Usually a worker receives the visa for a three-year period and then the visa

may be extended one time for an additional three years. Employers can sponsor

international workers for an employment-based green card before the H1B visa

runs out. Each year, about 3 million workers revive temporary visas.

Foster worries that if he leaves, he may not have the chance to come back. “If I

returned to England I would probably have to move to a big city and work for

someone in a communication department of a big company. There would be very

little chance I’d end up coming back here due to the difficulties of securing a visa,”

said Foster.

The waiting time for applicants who become eligible to apply for a green card

could be astronomical. For example, in May 2014 the government processed some

employment-related visa applications as far back as October 2003.

Foster said his dream job would be to coach a big soccer club in either America

or Europe. He has been playing soccer since he was three years old. He played on

Hofstra University’s Men’s Soccer team for three years and was a volunteer assistant

his fourth year. He now plays on the New York Greek American’s soccer team and

coach’s youth teams on Long Island.

“He has a lot of experience and knowledge about the game that he shares with his teammates,”

said Botte.

 
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(Photo by: Glenn Chin Photography)

Foster knows that the odds of obtaining a visa are slim, but not impossible. He has many friends

from the soccer team who have gone through similar experiences.

Florian Popp, a former teammate of Foster and a recent Hofstra University graduate, has an OPT visa

that will last him two and a half years instead of the usual one year since he graduated with an

engineering degree. Popp is working for Greenman-Pederson, Inc., an engineering and construction

company on Long Island.

Popp came to America to play soccer and to learn English. “I didn’t really plan to

study over here since my English was almost non-existent,” said Popp. “Now, I want

to stay in America because it is, how most people say, the land of opportunity. I don’t

want to live the same normal life like everyone else does in Germany. I want to do

something different.”

Popp is a model for students like Foster. He had a goal of staying in the United

States, and earned a degree that would help him stay as long as possible. “Engineers

are needed in every country,” said Popp. “It would have been easier for me to go

back to Germany to get a job, since I am fluent in two languages, but I want to stay

here.”

Popp knows other options, like going back to Germany would be easier, but he says

he loves New York and believes it has everything you need.

Foster is optimistic and determined to follow in his friend’s footsteps and stay in

the United States. “I have to admit that not being sponsored would be my worst

nightmare, but there are other ways to stay in America such as going to grad school

and extending my student visa for another two years,” said Foster.

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