H-1B Visa Cap Making It More Difficult For International MBAs To Land U.S. Jobs

Former Canadian immigration minister Jason Kenney  in front of Canadian government billboard near Silicon Valley

Former Canadian immigration minister Jason Kenney in front of Canadian government billboard near Silicon Valley

It may seem a no-brainer that talented foreign MBAs should be welcomed into the U.S. economy.  “Denying companies access to the skilled workers they need is like asking them to work with one hand tied behind their backs,” Robert Atkinson, president of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, argued last month in a Gannett op-ed calling for a higher cap on H-1B visas. Microsoft executive VP Brad Smith in 2013 told a Senate committee that the limited number of visas had a deterrent effect on foreign talent. “Some potential hires are unwilling to jump over all of the hurdles presented by the H-1B cap and will simply walk away from the offer of employment in the U.S., opting to instead pursue alternative options in their home countries,” Smith testified.

But critics of the H-1B argue that it has led companies to lay off U.S. science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) workers and replace them with lower-cost immigrants.


Elected representatives appear less than completely informed about the H-1B visa, says Stanford MBA Cobut, who spoke at a Senate briefing earlier this year. “It was quite interesting for me to see how little politicians know about this issue,” Cobut says.

In the latest round of H-1B visas, awarded by lottery, U.S. immigration services received 233,000 applications from companies for the Congressionally mandated 85,000 visas. Last year, 172,500 applications were submitted, up significantly from 124,000 a year earlier.

H-1B applications for MBA students at first go through a sub-lottery in which 20,000 visas are given to master’s students and master’s graduates. If an MBA doesn’t get a visa in that initial round, their application goes into the main lottery that awards 65,000 visas.

Job Offers and Pay: Foreign MBA Students vs. U.S. MBA Students



School Job offers by graduation: U.S. MBAs Job offers by graduation: foreign MBAs Job offers 3 mos. post-graduation: U.S. MBAs Job offers by 3 mos. post-graduation: foreign MBAs Median base starting salary: U.S. MBAs Median base starting salary: foreign MBAs
Chicago Booth 88% 93% 98% 99% $120,000 $120,000
Carnegie Mellon 84% 70% 90% 92% $110,000 $115,000
Duke Fuqua 87% 86% 94% 92% $110,000 $112,500
Stanford GSB 85% 67% 95% 90% $125,000 $120,000
Dartmouth Tuck 91% 90% 99% 97% $116,000 (all grads) $113,750
UCLA Anderson 79% 66% 94% 93% $110,000 $107,500

Source: Business school employment reports

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