The H-1B visa ban has finally expired, nearly 10 months after the suspension of the US post-study work visa was originally imposed by former President Trump.
Many expected the H-1B visa suspension to be lifted by President Biden, who has adopted a significantly more open approach to visas and immigration than his predecessor. After Trump’s initial ban in June 2020, Biden committed to lifting the ban were he to be elected president.
Although Biden has dithered on reversing Trump’s ban, the executive order imposing the ban expired automatically on March 31, 2021.
The H-1B visa is allocated to high-skilled immigrants, including business master's and MBA graduates, to work in specialty professions in the US. The US offers 85,000 H-1B visas annually through a lottery system. Applications for the 2022 H-1B visa lottery reopened in early March 2021.
Why is the end of the H-1B visa ban good news?
If you're considering applying for a US business school, the end of the H-1B visa suspension is a significant boost to your prospects of staying to work in the US after graduation.
As it stands, international graduates can stay in the US for one year after graduation, through optional practical training (OPT), during which time you can apply for the H-1B visa lottery. MBA and masters students have a significant advantage: they can apply twice per cycle for the lottery, once with their bachelor’s degree and again with their master’s degree.
While the H-1B visa lottery is significantly oversubscribed—often receiving two applications for every visa they can offer—it still presents an important aspect of the US business school proposition.
With the H-1B visa reinstated, international applicants will feel confident in applying to the US and being able to stay on and work after graduating.
High hopes for Biden visa policy
As Biden adopts an overall more welcoming policy to internationals, many will hope this will apply to US work visas too.
Business school applicants will hope to see an increase in the number of H-1B visas given out, as well as exemption from caps for applicants with specific in-demand skill sets (such as STEM skills).
This in turn could help reverse the fortunes of US business school programs, which have seen international application numbers drop during the Trump years.
If President Biden is serious about his commitment to growing and innovating the US economy, he will rely greatly on international talent to do this. Expanding the H-1B visa, and other post-study work visas, will be critical.