Before you apply: America’s visa uncertainty
Before you apply for your F-1 visa, be mindful that visa rules have been highly changeable under the previous Trump administration.
The US has temporarily banned the issuing of H-1B visas for foreign workers and the L-1 visa, which allowed foreign employees of American companies to relocate to the US, although the H-1B visa ban has now been lifted.
With the coronavirus pandemic forcing many American institutions to move their classes online, the Trump administration also announced changes to F-1 visa requirements which meant that international students completing their courses exclusively online would not be able to stay in the country for the fall semester, from late August.
Foreign students make up a high percentage of US business schools’ enrolment, however, and business schools did not take this lying down. Just two days after the announcement on July 8, Harvard and MIT filed suit to block the revision.
On July 14, the day after another suit was filed by 17 states and the District of Columbia, the proposed visa changes were cancelled.
Many candidates are reconsidering the expense and effort required to study in the US. American business schools have already seen international application rates decline by 14%.
Leading MBA admissions consultant, Barbara Coward, says candidates should think hard about what they want to get out of their MBA experience in the US and assess their own appetite for risk.
“If you are someone who really, really wants to go to business school in the US, continue with your dreams but be prepared to be agile/flexible since the situation is so uncertain. If you are more risk averse, then it's best to consider a school outside the US.”
International students should take comfort in the fact that leading US schools are willing to take action on their behalf.
The US remains home to the majority of the world’s top-ranked business schools and, once accepted into a US MBA or master’s program, you can still expect a strong return on your investment.