For many international students, the joy of graduating from a top MBA program in the United States can quickly turn into the pain of figuring out how to stay in the country. Like many other nations, the U.S. has a stringent and cumbersome work visa process for graduating MBAs that makes it difficult for international students to take full advantage of their new degrees.
After completing an MBA in the United States under the F-1 student visa, international students must leave the country within 60 days. At this point, students interested in remaining in the country must secure sponsorship from an employer via the H-1B visa – this visa will allow the recipient to work in the U.S. for up to three years, with the option for potential renewal of an additional three years.
Despite the rise of international students in U.S. MBA programs, however, the amount of distributed work visas has remained unchanged, even in the face of this growth.
In recent years, this process has become even more difficult, with less companies willing to offer international MBAs the highly coveted work visa, and an increasingly stringent lottery system. This past year, the aforementioned lottery allotted just 85,000 H-1B work visas for an estimated 230,000 applicants. This frustrating end to a business school student’s time in the states can be a major contrast to the optimistic beginning of their MBA journey.
Given these challenges, it is critical for international students to understand the likelihood of being able to secure employer sponsorship following business school. This is particularly important, given that these students may be returning to home economies that are not as robust as that of the U.S., resulting in lower salaries and a reduced return on investment on their MBA degrees.
The discussion on this issue has elevated to the political sphere, with conversations surrounding whether or not the work visa system should be overhauled. This will likely be a hot button topic for many years to come, and hopefully, the resolution balances the needs of international students with the U.S. economy.
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Dozie A. is a Veritas Prep Head Consultant for the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. His specialties include consulting, marketing, and low GPA/GMAT applicants. You can read more articles by him here.