Obtaining Student Visas
Students are required by the US government to obtain a student visa prior to their arrival in the US. The waiting period for a visa interview at US embassies varies greatly according to country, but generally will take between 2 and 8 weeks. This requires advanced preparation on the part of the student. It is also important to keep in mind that students obtain a visa to attend a particular program at a particular school. Consequently, when you do go to the embassy to apply for a visa you should have already made your study decision. Changing your decision later, for example, switching from Wharton to Harvard, requires another visa.
After attaining your visa, the US government permits international students to move to the country a month before their program begins. This is advantageous for international students because they are likely to need more time to get their bearings, make housing arrangements, and also take care of additional bureaucratic formalities.
Inquiring About H-1B Work Visas
Working in the US after completing an MBA requires attaining a work visa. The most common of these for skilled workers is the H-1B visa. A limited number of these visas are awarded each year, and most international students find the process easiest with large corporations accustomed to bringing in non-Americans. This basically means that for those seeking to work in the US post-graduation, they need to begin their job search prior to graduating, keeping in mind that they should target companies that are willing to sponsor international students. Business school career centers will assist in this process by helping students determine which corporations are willing to take on responsibility to hire them.
- Consider your fit with the school in terms of teaching and learning style, the school’s location within the US, and whether you’ll be happy there.
- Be aware of your post MBA goals, including the industry you prefer and the role you envision for yourself.
- Research the costs and economic feasibility of your plans.
For non-native English speakers, prepare for education in English.
The United States is home to many of the world’s top MBA programs and has a vast array of schools and program choices. Many of its schools provide opportunities not only in the United States but also globally. In addition, international students are welcome applicants in US schools. They contribute to student body diversity, bring professional experience from outside the US and, very importantly, provide different perspectives to students and faculty, broadening the horizons of all.
Though business schools in the United States traditionally offer 2-year full-time MBA programs, encouraging an internship between the first and second years, MBA programs in the US have expanded in recent years to include 1-year programs, distance learning programs and online, part-time MBA programs. In addition, some programs offer students the exciting opportunity to study in Asia, Europe and the United States. Plentiful options also exist for the experienced professional seeking Executive MBA training.
That said, international applicants sometimes find attending US schools to be tricky, requiring a lot of advanced preparation— especially in the post-September 11th and post-financial crisis environment.
A great method to find out detailed information about American and European business schools is to attend different MBA tours, which hold forums all over the world to connect interested applicants with business school admissions staff.
Assessing Language Challenges
Some students may find that getting used to life in the US is challenging. Academic, language, or personal adjustments can be difficult, so be sure to give yourself a chance to adjust—for most of us, these things just take time.
Classroom time, for example, is packed with discussion, debate, projects, and student presentations. International students will want to familiarize themselves with teaching styles prevalent in the US and be sure that they are comfortable with them, or at the least open to them before school begins.
In addition, for non-native English speakers who lack experience in English-speaking classrooms and professional environments, language difficulties may be an obstacle. As part of your b-school application, non-native English speakers will be required to take the TOEFL exam, an English proficiency test. This test requires study and rigorous preparation for many applicants. Score requirements vary according to school, but most schools do provide clear guidelines on what score is acceptable. After completing the TOEFL, the best way to meet the challenge of entering a program in English is to practice and prepare.
Take English as a Second Language classes, sometimes offered during the summer at particular business schools, or a Business English course, if a student’s vocabulary and business language is more problematic. However, keep in mind that with foreign languages improvement does not happen overnight. It requires time, hard work, and patience.
It’s also important to note that one of the primary factors in obtaining internships and full-time jobs in the US is extremely strong spoken English language skills. For those students whose English language skills aren’t strong, they often don’t fare well in the interview process. So, they find themselves without the types of opportunities that they’re really seeking.
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