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

GMAC research shows which industries are most and least likely to hire international MBAs, and also reveals that on this issue, size matters. GMAC’s 2015 Corporate Recruiters Survey found that 36% of consulting companies said they planned to hire international business grads, and 38% of finance/accounting firms planned such hires. Less likely to hire internationals were technology companies, with 43% saying they wouldn’t hire any foreign citizens requiring visas, and products/services firms, of which 58% said they wouldn’t hire workers needing visas.

International Hiring Plans for 2015,  by Industry



Number of Employees
Plan to Hire International Workers
Willing to Hire International Workers but No Specific Plans
Won’t Hire International Workers
<100 16% 44% 40%
100 – 999 19% 26% 54%
1,000 – 4,999 29% 33% 39%
5,000 – 24,999 34% 29% 37%
>25,000 35% 19% 46%

Source: GMAC 2015 Corporate Recruiters Survey

Larger companies also expressed more willingness to hire international workers, with 34% of companies with 5,000 to 24,999 and 35% of companies with 25,000 or more employees saying they planned those hires. Most unlikely to hire internationals were companies with 100 to 999 workers: 54% said they would not, and only 19% said they would.

International Hiring Plans for 2015,  by Company Size



Industry Plan to Hire International Workers Willing to Hire International Workers but No Specific Plans Won’t Hire International Workers
Consulting 36% 32% 32%
Finance/Accounting 38% 24% 38%
Technology 30% 28% 43%
Manufacturing 33% 35% 33%
Products/Services 21% 22% 58%

Source: GMAC 2015 Corporate Recruiters Survey

“The availability of legal staff, defined company policies and financial resources, as well as a global demand for talent may explain the willingness of larger companies to hire candidates requiring legal documentation,” GMAC reports.

Another Indian Kellogg MBA, Abhishek Gutgutia, has found the H-1B to be a major career obstacle on several fronts. A Siebel Scholar and winner of the Dean’s Distinguished Service Award, Gutgutia obtained an H-1B visa and a U.S. job, but the work-authorization requirements stifled his entrepreneurial ambition and threw a wrench into his family life.

“The problems surrounding H-1B are at multiple levels and start compounding the day you enter business school,” Gutgutia says. Having run his own floriculture business in India, he was keen on entrepreneurship, as well as experienced in it. “I’m more than ready to start my own company,” Gutgutia says. “Under my H-1B I can’t really start a business.”

Onerous H-1B requirements for startup founders present a major difficulty for foreign would-be entrepreneurs. An H-1B worker must have a demonstrable employee/employer relationship with the company, which means the startup must have a separate board of directors which can pay, hire, and fire the worker. For startup founders, that can mean giving up control over their company.


Elizabeth Chominski, University of Illinois College of Business

Elizabeth Chominski, University of Illinois College of Business

Because many firms are reluctant to go through the process of applying for an H-1B visa in order to hire an employee, “there aren’t too many job opportunities to begin with, and once you get the job, you may not get the H-1B visa,” Gutgutia says. Even though he found a job with industrial-supply company ESAB in Maryland and won the H-1B lottery, Gutgutia still may have to leave the U.S., because his wife, who is getting her U.S. CPA certification, is on a dependent visa and can’t work, he says. The situation affecting the couple is addressed in a Senate bill introduced earlier this year with bipartisan support by Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch, which would allow spouses of H-1B holders to work in the U.S.

The H-1B problem can affect foreign MBA candidates’ internships as well as their future job prospects, says Elizabeth Chominski, associate director of MBA advising at the University of Illinois College of Business. Firms often use internships as a step toward hiring, and they may not want to hire a foreign intern because a later full-time hire would be complicated by the H-1B process, and made risky by the uncertainty that comes from the lottery system for allocating visas, Chominski says. “It’s hard from a company perspective to hire a (foreign) student because you don’t know if and when you’re going to be able to retain that talent,” Chominski says.

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