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MBA Abroad: Preparing For More Stringent Visa Requirements

When you think about valuable imports and exports, you might think of oil, natural gas, steel, or other raw materials and goods. You might not think of… students.

One Economist article terms education “a lucrative export,” citing foreign students who offer talent, diversity, and new perspectives.

However, some countries, including the United States and Great Britain, are currently operating under immigration laws that make it increasingly difficult for foreign students to obtain visas or to work in that country after graduation.

Those immigration difficulties are driving down the number of international students choosing to pursue MBA degrees in those countries.

MBA Abroad

In another post, I discussed the pronounced decline in international students that British business schools are currently facing.

The Economist points out a similar, somewhat less dramatic trend in American business schools. In 2000, American schools were educating 66 percent of the world’s MBA graduates.

In 2011, that number fell to 44 percent. While the decline might be caused in part by immigration difficulties, we should also remember that the number of B-schools worldwide is growing, and that those schools are attracting students who might otherwise pursue a degree in the U.S.

For international students eyeing schools in America or Britain, the declining numbers can certainly be disturbing, as can immigration and visa regulations that make it more difficult to find work after graduation.

However, the numbers do not have to be, and really should not be, prohibitive. You always have a right to hope for and pursue the education you want, and you can take several steps to adjust to the international MBA climate.

Research how international students fare at your target schools. Look into the schools alumni networks and career statistics to see how many international students stay in that country to work.

If possible, talk to international alumni and students, and ask about particular difficulties encountered.

Look into visa and immigration regulations right away, and ask questions based on the facts that you learn.

Investigating these facts and hearing alumni stories will help you make an informed decision about the next step in your education.

Research careers that you are interested in. Do the schools that you are considering have a strong employment record for those career placements? Where do the companies that you are interested in look for employees? Do they have offices internationally?

Cast a wide net. Do some research on business schools in countries with less strict visa and immigration regulations.

There are many great business schools in Europe and a growing number of highly ranked schools in Asia.

While these schools might not be in your original plan, you should not discount them immediately. Look into it, perhaps visit the campus, and keep an open mind about where you want to go.

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