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


Read McNamara, Owen Graduate School of Management

Read McNamara, Owen Graduate School of Management

Schools’ data shows that foreign MBAs often lag behind their American peers in securing a job by graduation, but generally catch up by three months afterward. Some of that delay is the result of job searches that need to be conducted back in their home countries. “For those planning to return to their country of citizenship, they must conduct a job search hundreds or possibly thousands of miles away from their targeted job market,” according to the recent GMAC report. “International students who seek opportunities back home must often travel vast distances and the cost of going home for interviews quickly becomes an expensive proposition. In fact, 43% of graduating international students who reported they were not seeking employment at the time GMAC surveyed them in 2014 were actually waiting until they got closer to graduation to begin their job search.”

Delays also result from cultural differences, school officials say. Networking is a crucial element of the recruiting process, and international MBA candidates must “get used to the American style of networking,” which slows down the process of securing a job, says Laleh Rongere, associate director of international student programs at the Stanford Graduate School of Business. At Owen, international graduates are “disproportionately interested” in the West Coast tech industry, which has a later hiring cycle than most other sectors, so many foreign MBAs show up as jobless at graduation, but are employed within three months, McNamara says.


Still, for many who come to the U.S. with an ambitious dream to ultimately use their MBA to live and work here, a full-time, long-term job is at least a struggle if not an impossibility. Kellogg’s Shekhar is a prime example. He had worked as an intern in the U.S. in 2007, researching enzymatic biofuel cells at Saint Louis University for a summer while getting a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology in Kharagpur.

Straight out of his undergraduate program, he landed at Procter & Gamble in India as an associate manager for product supply, was promoted to manager after two years, and worked for the company for another two years, in India and at corporate headquarters in Cincinnati.

Set on a future career in consulting, he began applying to elite U.S. MBA programs. “Harvard and Stanford I applied to because everybody applies,” he says. He also completed applications for the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College and Kellogg. Creating a spreadsheet showing how long it would take to pay off student loans from each school helped narrow his first and second choices to Harvard and Kellogg, both known for preparing students well for high-level consulting careers.


Accepted at Kellogg and another top school, Shekhar chose Kellogg, in part because Kellogg staff were extremely helpful and responsive, he says.

At Kellogg, Shekhar’s class was composed of 36% international students. When the H-1B lottery results began to come in, he was left out in the cold. “Everybody from Kellogg who graduated with me, they were like, ‘I got my H-1B, I got my H-1B.’ I still hadn’t heard back. That’s when you start getting nervous. That’s when I started networking for the possibility that I would not get it.”

To be sure, Shekhar sees a silver lining around the dark cloud the H-1B has cast over his budding consulting career. “It will be in the long term helpful,” he says. “I will have a year of European experience… and a year of U.S. experience. It will be a great addition to my resume but the process of getting it is frustrating.”

Part of a series on the U.S. job market for international MBAs

Part of a series on the U.S. job market for international MBAs

International MBA Students & The H-1B


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

Why U.S. Business Schools Want More H-1B Visas

How MBA Students Can Navigate The H-1B Visa Maze

The H-1B Visa Abuses That Make It Harder For MBAs To Work In The U.S.

Tuck MBA Offers Work Visa Advice

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