Job Offers Rescinded for Foreign-born MBAs

Posted by: Louis Lavelle on March 11, 2009

It’s a bad time to be an MBA student—what with the the collapsing job market for business school graduates. But you really have to feel for the international students who are getting tossed to the curb in America’s rush to right its sinking economic ship.

In recent days, international students from Wharton, NYU, and Tuck have had job offers rescinded by Bank of America and other top banks. The reason: a provision added to the stimulus bill last month by Sens. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, and Bernard Sanders, I-Vermont that prohibits banks receiving federal bailout money from the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) from hiring foreign workers if they’ve laid off employees in the last 90 days.

The job rescisions, which have been previously reported by Forbes and the Wall Street Journal, have drawn criticism from some within the higher education commmunity. In an op-ed piece in the Journal, Tuck dean Paul Danos and associate deans Matthew Slaughter and Robert Hansen argue that the Grassley/Sanders measure is self-defeating, and will ultimately harm the U.S. economy more than help it.

Over 400 companies have accepted the federal bailout funds and “now face a sharply curtailed talent pool, precisely when they need visionary talent to rebuild,” the deans wrote. If foreign-born students can’t count on a job after earning their degrees, fewer will enroll, they said. And places like Tuck—where 35% of MBA candidates are foreign born—will be a lot less diverse.

Has anyone been on the receiving end of a rescinded job offer, from Bank of America or another employer? What alternatives are there—short of leaving the country—for people in this predicament? All ideas are welcome.

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Reader Comments


March 18, 2009 10:49 AM

It was always expected that US would think more globally than everyone else; And now this !!!

Many International students come to study in the US not with the intention of robbing the American jobs but to gain that liberty, freedom and confidence to express and achieve in the land of opportunities (and in the meanwhile create wealth and employment to the natives as well); oh but well it seems like that was in the past.

Honestly, for many International students it is a huge-huge investment to get into the US universities; and when they figure that at the end of it there is a law (and not really the lack of opportunity) that forces them to go bare handed back home... it is scary !!!


March 20, 2009 05:48 PM

I think, MBA programs in USA are over-rated and business schools are a serious corporate in itself. Over-priced MBA education is worthless if one cannot even get a job after graduating. And what about the horror of $150k debt .........

test test

March 22, 2009 01:00 PM

well...while the horror of a 150K debt always lingers, one other way the US economy will be hurt further is when these US internationals simply walk away from the loan. There is simply NO way anyone can come after their assets when they leave the country! in the rush to create wonderful sounds bites, our politicians fail to make the distinction between creating H1B reform and creating blanket policies that impact the US!

Protectionism is Good

March 23, 2009 05:05 AM

US schools receive a lot of financial support from taxpayers, and I think it's about time that US students are given priority over foreign students. That priority should include admissions to schools receiving tax-payer support (including city services in towns where they pay no property taxes), loan programs, scholarships, and jobs! I was laid-off from an executive-level position at a large US corporation that is happily importing lower-wage foreign workers to fill those US jobs it has not already exported to China and India. If institutions and corporations want the benefits of operating in the US, they are morally obligated to support the economy/citizens that provide those benefits.


March 23, 2009 06:42 PM

Well if 'Protectionism is Good' as my friend mentioned above, wonder what would happen if the developing nations started reacting the same way. Most of the revenue of companies like coke, pepsi, GM, Ford (the list is endless) comes from developing nations like India and China. I believe the economy would be in a really bad shape if sales in these countries dried up for american companies. Diversity is also good, a chunk of majot companies have either been started or are being sustained and grown by nationals from different countries. It's important we look at the bigger picture and make environment conducive to diversity rather than getting inside a shell. St. Patricks day is probably more popular in US than Ireland, reason more Irish here :)


March 24, 2009 01:51 AM

In the era of globalization it's not good for a student to nurture his/her business skills in a local environment.

Number of International students will surely graph down by these kind of law which restricts International students to gain a good oppurtunity.

Quality of work as well as the competitiveness will surely grade down as there will be a talent crunch.

Not sure who will be the winner of this War between Nationality vs Oppurtunity but I can tell it's the lawmaker rather the country who will end up standing by the loser's side.

Bottomline : Let's the Best Talent work for the job.

Manjit Nath

March 26, 2009 03:17 AM

Hey all,
What's the deadline for the US law to terminated? My question is --how you see the future, will the things will turn Green for non-US students


March 26, 2009 09:03 AM

The argument brought forward by "Protection is good" fails to take into consideration that more than a third of MBA admittants come from the highly talented Indian and Chinese pool where a GMAT score of 750 is not guaranteed to get you a spot. Take that away from the US schools and you're left with an average set of students. When it comes to raw talent, the American kids lag behind the Indians and Chinese kids. It's a fact.

Of course, these students will be snapped up by the European business schools and in the not too distant future, LBS and Said will replace Wharton and Harvard as the best business schools in the world. LBS is already there.

Catherine Ahlgren, Assistant Dean, Boston University School of Management Field Career Center

March 27, 2009 01:40 PM

While this situation could not have been predicted and therefore planned for, it does illustrate the importance for all business students of having well developed professional networks and the increasing importance of extending their networks internationally.

We know that international MBA students are often the “Best and the Brightest” of their home countries – evident by the fact that they received offers from these well known and highly competitive financial institutions. These recisions don’t change that – international MBA students remain talented and bring competitive skill sets and multicultural competency to the marketplace.

International MBA students affected by this need to first review their background to re-position their skills and background for other industries, refine their resumes to reflect this new positioning and then use the same job search strategies they used to secure these original offers.

Most importantly extend the search not only within the US, but to other geographies including their home countries.


March 31, 2009 05:37 AM

Time already gets in whether to rush behind a 'Top' US-MBA program or thinking else. Is it really worthwhile to appear a $100,000 MBA? Why so? What additional value is being added into an incumbent that priced a sky high? Many business across the world invented and run by non-MBAs or MBAs from a 'Ordinary' Business school. Business education is not at all a high tech secret knowledge like aerospace or neuroscience that 'world cannt go without it.'


April 2, 2009 03:40 AM

Now this is what I prefer to call a master stroke! Azad has served an ACE!

Is is absolutely true and infact this is the one and only fact that MBA education is a business now. It is well established business. Business administration is the general day to day work that we all have to do. what differs is the aspect and scale of it. complaining about your dead phone line, chasing the service provider, winning their serivce in shortest time-the whole chain of work is also a business management where you are taking care of your own motive. Similarly a CEO running a chain of systematic processes in his organisation is the same.

There are many to the power million examples of people who were or are not the so called MBAs but are running some of the biggest, largest, prestigious, global companies in this world.

In fact very few can actually give a statistical evidence of actually how many MBAs from the so called global B-schools go on developing their own companies or directly or indirectly work to improve the condition of their motherland. MBA education is a lucrative business now and the jobs after an MBA education is also lucrative! The circuit closes here. How many world leaders have these so called world's best B-schools produced in the past decades?? How many? If education can not open someone's mind any further, what sort of education it is??

I prefer to call these MBA community as Evolved Clerks.Most of them are just as good as that.

Knowledge is priceless. There is no end of this practice of gaining more knowledge and learning. It is not actually clear under the Sun that what comes as a return with an exchaged $160,000 course fee?? Unfortunately there are many like us, the Homo sapience, whose income per month is just 0.40$!

in this modern civilised world we would expect a rational, logical approach to education and not something like this hell of $160000 courses!! Unless the economic flow pattern of this extremely rotten capitalist world changes there is very little hope that we will not suffer these type of economic crises and its consequences (like the topic of our discussion).

Last but not the least, best wishes for these numerous MBAs--the evolved Clerks!


April 8, 2009 06:11 AM


So are we to believe that the American B-schools will drop their admissions' standards if applications from the "highly talented Indian and Chinese pool" drop? And if it's a fact that they're the best, where is the link on the statistics to this fact to support you're argument? I suspect you're either Chinese or Indian and are just offended by the "Protection is good" comment and purposely threw a jab at our institutions to make yourself feel good. Make no mistake about it, schools like Wharton and Harvard will NEVER experience a shortage of top, international talent to choose from, because (1) they're real big on the diversity thing and will continue to work hard to bring a foreigner's dream to life and (2) are in it to be the best. You say that LBS is already the best. Again, I ask, where is the link on the statistics to support your claim? * yawns *Give me a break.


May 13, 2009 09:09 AM


Although I agree that Raja has overreacted because he might be a foreigner (I'd guess Indian by the nick Raja), you too overreacted.

I do agree that there's no market anymore. And that potential MBA students will think twice before spending 150K + the cost of living abroad. This is part of a crisis, right? Whose crisis is it?

Want a good point? The top business schools will quickly reinvent themselves by changing small single spots on their program and widely reviewing their speech. Speech is what the B-Schools are about, as far as I remember mine.



Joaquin Grech

May 29, 2009 12:36 PM

I'm debating the situation right now as an international student who got accepted into a top-tier MBA program. You might consider me bias but I'll speak up against the "protectionism is good".

First, international MBA students do not take away jobs nor scholarships away from americans. By law, federal aid is only given to americans or green card holders, international students are a HUGE source of income for every university since they are forced to pay tuition in full.

Second, it is true that international students are usually better prepare than americans. This is a fact that follows simple statistics. When you as a US citizen apply to a school, you have enacted laws that forces the school to accept % of students of certain races, gender and incomes. They receive federal aid for it and for instance, it's is a known fact that a female with a 640 GMAT can get into a top-tier school where a male might be asked a 700. Same goes for minorities. Schools also take 60 to 80% of americans for their programs.

Now, as an international student we compete against the WHOLE world. It doesn't matter our race or gender, we have zero benefits and we are competing for a 20 to 30% of the MBA quota. We are always the minority group in any MBA program. It's simple statistics, they pick the very very very best, people who speak several languages, got great credentials, a world-view and know about some subjects more than certain professors, who are also able to get funding by themselves. We are no money drain in the US and hardly any international student gets a loan from the US, we bring them from home since we are not allowed to request fed sponsored loans or any kind of loans from the US without a US cosigner.

You can see now my point of how hard is for an international student to get into a top-tier program, much more than for an american. For those of us that were able to pass all these filters, we find ourselves with a $100+ debt that we expect to be able to pay working after graduation. Usually this was not an issue, if you were bright enough to get into that program as an international student, an employer would surely notice you.

That was the case, international students did not only add diversity to the MBA class but they we also a source of brilliant and talented people into the US. That's why when there is a H1B reduction, companies fight like hell to keep these guys. It's not because internationals are cheap labor, we are not talking farming jobs here, we are talking management positions. People that starts their own companies, that begin a venture and hire americans (again, this is by law), that create wealth and that can help the economy.

Now, you might think that as an international student I'm biased. I won't disagree, I'm sure I am to some extend, but you have to also look at yourself.

Every time I see a comment about international students been better than americans, there is a huge outcry with american patriotism. It's understandable, it's human nature. I disagree, I don't believe international students are better than americans, I do believe that on average, international students that ARE ACCEPTED into top-tier programs, are better than their americans counterpart because of the statistics I just mentioned.

Also, international schools are rising up like crazy. Outside the US, it was unheard of any program, mba or whatever else, where you had to drop $100k to attend. Now that the range is getting closer, with that amount of money you can hire the very best staff, international students with a PhD from harvard and can't work in the US due to the immigration laws, where do they go? To their home country, close to their family, to teach for instance, where the salary in universities are starting to come close to the US.

You can see this happening. A few years ago, Businessweek or Financial times ranked the best business schools in the US only. Recently you have the top business schools from around the world on the main page.

For instance:

As an example, IESE which is ranked 9 in there, it's considered harvard level among many circles and it's actually the only school in the world that has a partnership with harvard.

LBS was ranked higher than Harvard in recent surveys. And if you want to see the ranks put together (US vs the world) just go to the financial times site and search for the ranks.

Now, when a international student had to pick for the best school, we used to look to the US. These days we look at the ranks and we figure that LBS, INSEAD, IE, IMD, IESE and so on are better or at the same level. We don't have the same laws than US and we don't discriminate for scholarships or financial aid. Anyone, even international students and americans, can come to our countries and study (you'll be amazed to see how many americans are joining the european schools and dropping offers from top-tier programs in the US). The cost can also be 50% less than attending an american school.

It short, it's beginning to make more economic sense to study outside the US, where you get a similar or better education and where you don't feel like you have to apologize for being a foreigner and fight against immigration laws. International schools are open to the american students, not because of the additional income since they can easily get that from other applicants, but because they are open to bright and talented people with no discrimination whatsoever of their origins. And if they want to work, why not? We love you, why don't you?

Dave Bani

June 10, 2009 03:02 PM

Joaquin, thanks for your very informative post.
Go-getter, here's the link to the financial times rankings.
I'm sure you'll see that Harvard is No. 3 while LBS is already number 2. Diversity is a big deal for many business schools. Also, every american in the US (excluding the native americans) immigrated here at some point, so you'll discover that someone in your ancestry line immigrated to the US in hopes of finding opportunities in the land of opportunities. I advice you not to take this personal.

Joaquin Grech

June 11, 2009 10:16 AM

Thanks Dave for the comment.

I finished my last post in a cheesy note. I was on a rush to leave the house after the long comment. My main point against the "protectionism is good theory" is that schools spend an extraordinary amount of time trying to pick the brightest international students. Then they educate these people in the US, train them to become the best managers/entrepreneurs and when they are ready to take the world, laws force them to leave to their home countries where they will use that education to compete against the US (or any other competitor). It's just nonsensical: you train them and ship me out to compete against you.
Meanwhile if staying in the US, for every American position they take, they can create multiple jobs and help sustain your competitive advantage.
You have to be careful on the populist believe that by creating protectionist laws you are helping your economy because you might be shooting your own foot.


June 13, 2009 12:51 PM

I am an American and agree with Joaquin completely that America is the big beneficiary when it comes to draining the talent from other countries, but his point is far too subtle for our politicians. Every manager in every business knows that the best thing for your company is to get the best people from everywhere in the world, but that is no longer the driving force at some of these banks. Once they took the TARP money, there was a new boss in town, whose priorities were re-election and not corporate performance. It's pretty hard for anyone in Congress to justify to their constituency handing tax-payer money to companies that hire a lot of foreigners. Protectionism, and, to a certain extent, xenophobia happens in a lot of places that experience economic downturn and unemployment. I don't think this is fair, but its a reality politicains understand and most would rather get re-elected than do the right thing.
The real problem here is TARP. The last correct move the government made was to let Lehman go bankrupt and have their bankruptcy go through the courts instead of the political mess the GM bankruptcy has become. With TARP, the banks still have all the crap on their books, and the only thing the governemt has accomplished is to show they will step in to back big banks when they get in trouble. Seems to me like the creation of a moral dilemma. God job, Congress.
One last note -- did anyone notice that by managing the GM bankruptcy, Obama placed into the executive branch power that resides with the judiciary? This usurption of power was one of the chief complaints against the Bush administration (Al Gore goes on about this at length in his book, The Assault on Reason). Guess it pays to be charming :-)

BW Editor Louis Lavelle

July 29, 2009 08:57 AM

Folks, we had some technical difficulties with our blog yesterday and this post was lost--I'm posting it on behalf of "Juce":

Thnx Joaquin for expressing a view that I have long been a victim of. I studied in the US for my undergrad and took advantage of the OPT and H1B visas after completing my studies. Sad to say, I was often the victim of, 'you're taking away American benefits'. I had to pay 250% more than an american student for my education, I had to prove support for 2 years and at seriously inflated rate as well. The sad part was the derogatory remarks that I often was subjected to. I was Dean's list throughout my 4 years of college and made Who's who at the end of my course and graduated with honors. For me, it was norm as I have always excelled in school and as Joaquin indicated, the top tier from international countries are often the ones accepted to american schools hence the supposed disparity in intelligence. I paid my taxes above normal rates as I had no allowances. I could receive no benefits or federal aid, yet still, my company (because they had been burnt in the past & I therefore cannot fault them)refused to file for my permanent status & so I chose to return home empty handed. I am now completing my Masters in London for a fraction of the cost and time it would have taken in the US. I love my school immensely as they provide a top quality education in exactly 12 months. Extremely intensive and rigorous course but it offers the opportunity to work for 2 yrs post grad for any employer of my choice with the option to extend that visa for another 4 years. Small wonder, the UK is rebounding so fast as a world power because mind you, their immigration laws are very restrictive in terms of education and contribution. I'm sorry, the US cannot compare and needs to rethink their immigration policies as they are actually reversing the brain drain of lesser developed countries


August 4, 2009 10:25 AM

I am foreign but not worried about restrictions in the job market. America has the right to protect its jobs.If i cant get a job in the USA i will go home. All i care about are my skills, Im a PhD Economist and i have several options. All these Europeans and Asians are complaining about how unfair the USA is, but i am african and i know how african foreign students get treated in Asia and European job markets. i would pick USA grad schools over europe and asia anyday! who told these clowns that a high GMAT score means ur smart, if your smart start ur own business, why do u need some one to employ u?


December 26, 2009 06:13 AM


Compelling argument indeed. I'm sure after completing an MBA in the US and not getting a job, you will easily redeem your investment (in USD) with a job in Africa, with their individual currencies being so valuable.

Unfortunately, the rest of us 'clowns' have to consider returning home and accepting salaries in our local currency, which may be high, but will certainly not cover a 100k loan.

The US definitely has every right to protect its job market, but to do so at the cost of limiting its future talent pool is surely a myopic stance to take. This is not to say that the US itself has not produced any talent, but its base is surely strengthened by the influx of educated, hard working and motivated foreigners who wish to integrate with American society as well as contribute to its wealth.

America's strength lies in its diversity, its what makes it such a great nation.

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