Will Trump’s Visa Changes Hurt International MBAs?

Trump flag

Many MBA students see US business schools as a good way to secure a job in the country. Not only is an MBA degree proven to boost career prospects, but many students base their choice of school on where they want to work after graduation. Around 40% of MBAs at Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business are from outside the US, and more than half of them stay in the San Francisco Bay Area.  

But there are growing concerns that the US government’s controversial stance on immigration may make it harder for international students to land jobs, and deprive schools of the international talent which they rely upon to enrich their classrooms. 

The US recently tightened the wording of the F-1 visas which some international students use to study in the country. To be admitted with F-1 status, they must now prove they have a foreign residence which they do not intend to abandon. While no law has technically changed, schools say the wording adds to the sense that internationals are less welcome in the US — anathema to international MBAs. 

“It’s essential that people from all over the world have access to higher education in the US,” says Fuqua School of Business, Duke University dean Bill Boulding. 

“Everyone deserves the chance to study at institutions in which they meet the qualifications for admission, regardless of their country of origin. Furthermore, students who come from outside the US enrich the education of US citizens through exposure to differing backgrounds, experiences, cultures.”

The issue appears to have already taken effect, data shows. According to GMAC, just 32% of US business master’s programs reported growing international application volumes in 2017, compared with 49% IN 2016. GMAC said: “Recent political events in the US appear to have impacted application volumes.”

While US schools continue to enrol plenty of foreign MBAs, there are concerns that they may find it more difficult to gain employment upon graduation. There is an annual quota of 85,000 H-1B visas — typically how internationals MBAs are hired in the US — and that was breached this year in just four days. 

Denise Karaoli, from the careers department at The University of Virginia Darden School of Business, says the system acts like a “lottery”. She advocates for a more targeted system, prioritising highly-skilled labor. “US companies want and need global talent and would hire many more MBAs if they could,” she says. “They are being deprived of talent.” 

Karaoli admits that students are concerned about Trump’s “hire American first” mantra, but she is optimistic that reform of the immigration system will, in fact, prioritize education and skills. “What trump says is that the H-1B visa has been abused by outsourcing companies that petition for thousands of lower-level jobs, which does not allow for the right number of skilled labor to come into the US. If he does reform the system, we believe there will be more opportunities for MBAs.”

So far, companies have not decreased their hiring of international students. A survey from GMAC in June found that 55% of US companies either plan to hire or are open to hiring an international candidate in 2017 — up from 49% that had such plans last year.

“Despite the political uncertainty about the status of immigration and work visas in the US, and other parts of the world, companies are keen to hire graduates from this year’s MBA and business master’s programs, including international candidates,” says Sangeet Chowfla, GMAC CEO.

 

Seb Murray
Written by Seb Murray

Seb is a journalist and consulting editor who has developed a successful track record writing about business, education and technology for the international press.

0 Comments
Log in from the top right-hand corner or click here to register to post comments