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Should I Study MS or MBA in USA ? Issues with H1B Visa Lottery ?

One of the most important things that an international student thinks about while planning to study in the US, is if they can work in the US after MS or MBA… In general, most MS or MBA students use H1B Visa to work in the US. In the past few years since 2013, to get an H1B visa, you need to go through H1B Visa Lottery due to the extreme amount of demand ( check H1B Lottery, cap reach History from 2000 to 2023 ). In this article, we will review, if it makes sense to study in the US depending on your goals.

What is the Uncertainty to work in the US? H1B Lottery?

 As a student, planning to study in the US, you need to look at what are that aspects that are in your control and what are uncertain and not in your control.

Things you can control to some extent and work hard to make them happen :

  • Get good scores in GRE/TOEFL/GMAL and get admission and study at a top 10 school like Harvard/ Stanford
  • Prepare well, interview well, and get an internship or a full-time job at a reputed company like Google/Microsoft to work in the US after graduation

Things that are uncertain like H1B Lottery

  • You need an H1-B Visa to work in the US. H1B Visa demand is so high, that there has been an H1B lottery for the last few years.
  • Getting an H1B visa is uncertain and purely LUCK as you need to get picked in H1B Visa lottery.
  • Also, there are many uncertain aspects around immigration to get an H1B petition approved. USCIS’s strict policies in recent years have made H1B Visa tricky at times if you work for small companies or work in an IT consulting role at small boutique firms.

Now that you understand what is in your control and what is not, let’s go back to basics and understand your real goals.

Why Higher Education like MS or MBA? What’s your Goal  ?

As mentioned in the article Goals for MS in the USA, many students are not clear on their goals for higher education. You need to be clear on the below aspects.

  1. Why higher education like MS in the US?
    •  Are you passionate to learn?
    • Do you want to become a researcher or professor someday?
    • Do you plan to become a technical expert in a certain area  ?
    • …etc.
  2. Why higher education like MBA in the US?
    • Is management your passion?
    • Do you want to get promoted into managerial roles?
    • Do you want to use your MBA for promotion?
    • Is it for entrepreneurship?
    • …etc.
  3. Forget all the above – I want to go to America, get a job, and make MONEY!

Both MS and MBA are quite different, many students often are not sure about the differences, they usually ask, I want to study should I do MS or MBA? They consider it as just a master’s degree. Read MS vs MBA in the US after B.Tech difference.

Passion for Higher Education: 1 and 2 points from above

If you are pursuing higher education with passion and a clear goal, with a path defined that your MS or MBA will add value or help you accelerate your journey to reach your goal, then go for it.  You should be very clear on this because you are investing in your education without the expectation that you want to work in America.

If you start your education with the goal of just working in the US, then you can be disappointed at a later stage with your future depending on LUCK and uncertainty around H1B Lottery! You will have an opportunity to work in the US on Curricular Practical Training (CPT) during your Master’s for 6 to 11 months and also for about 12 months on Optional Practical Training (OPT), with an option for another 24 months ( total 36 months), if you are part of the STEM designated degree category. Read What is CPT, OPT, and Day 1 CPT for F1 Students?

The STEM Designated Degree Program category is a complete list of fields of study that DHS considers to be science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) fields of study for purposes of the 24-month STEM optional practical training extension.

As you may or may not be able to work due to the uncertainties related to H1B Visa, you need to calculate your finances and plan for your education. There is no point in regretting after your MS or MBA that you have loans and you did a mistake, etc…It is a tough call, but you need to make it at the beginning!  Also, beware of the blatant facts of the job opportunities in your home country like India after MS or MBA from the US.

Go to America – Work in America – Make MONEY  – 3rd point of above

If your end goal is to move to America, work there and make Money, maybe settle down there… then you need to really think about it…Though, it may sound logical for many to think that if you do MS or MBA, you fall into Advanced degree masters cap and have higher chances in lottery…still you are relying on luck…it may not be the right thing to do….You will lose two years of your career…Also, you are just studying to get around and get a degree by spending huge sums of money….it is not JUST MONEY, it is also TIME. Few years ago, the path of MS or MBA used to be very attractive to move to America…but not anymore…in my view,  you should pursue higher education only if you are passionate about it and it adds value to your end goal.  If you are clear on this, you would not  be complaining about your luck and US immigration system at a later point…There are other ways to work in America, like on L1, you just need to pick the right company in your home country and plan accordingly so that you can move to America, if that’s what you want to do…

Trump Administration – H1B Program Changes

Since Trump Administration has taken office, there have been many changes to reduce the fraud in the H1B program by IT body shop companies. They have introduced rules that are aligned with their Executive Order of Buy American and Hire American.  There are some new policy memos in 2018 like Third Party Worksite Contract Requirements for H1B workers and many other similar actions planned as part of the Fall 2017 Regulatory Agenda  that could limit or tighten H1B, F1 related working options.

Many may not agree with my perspective, but considering all the risk you would take financially and your time for it…Higher Education should be driven by passion and not just get another degree to work and move to USA…Honestly, getting a Masters in USA, will NOT get you any better job in America, unless it is very specialised and research driven. Your odds are as good as with a Bachelor’s degree and work experience in that field.  With recent immigration changes and Trump Administration, US is no longer attractive for students in the long run to work and settle down…Also, USA is not the only country in the world, you have many countries that offer great education with options to work as well. You just need to explore…

What are your thoughts?


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  1. Hey Kumar,

    I would like to take your opinion.

    I’m on H1 came last year and it’s my first year on H1, but somehow it was approved only for 1 year though my employer had already filed for an extension and it’s been 2 months time but there is no update from USCIS. I’ve heard couple of people getting their H1 extension denial just bit worried abt that .

    Can I apply for F1 visa and later I can change my status to H1 under cap exempt ?

    • Yes, you will be considered cap exempt. You may do that COS to F1. But, just do not change visa status to F1 for the sake of immigration benefit, it is not really recommended. Pursue education, if you are really passionate about it.

  2. If I do MS in US ,after completion of college what are the ways to stay in US after OPT(29 months).Is getting H1B only option?I am sure there would be some other way people are staying there for long term.

    • sarty,
      Usually students after graduation work in US on H1B visa, that’s the way you start off and then apply for green card at later stage.

    • Smitha, you can apply for cap exempt H1B visa petitions as well, if you get a job with Universities, non-profit entities or research organizations.

  3. Dude,
    I am sure every one whoever watching redbus2us.com are pretty much good in career planning else no one will be interested to leave their parents or mother land for some stupid reasons…with all big lecture above still most of ppl’s doubt is not clear….every one want to know weather their is a chances to do maters in USA in case if any one want to purse their master with H1B1, will universities encourage the same ? rest of decisions on passion or for survival lies on each individual thinking. In fact, I am sure every individual can pick up their own theory to explain their necessity.

    so, now stop to be more like history lecturer and come on to the point as a matter of facts like a maths lecturer. 🙂

      • A great article and thanks for setting things straight. It was by no means history lecture for me but a great piece of advice that can help in the due diligence process before considering doing masters in the USA with the sole purpose of settling there. Please don’t stop doling out such valuable advice when detractors want to derail your well meaning and helpful advice. Let them move on if they don’t like your post without presenting irrelevant comments . Thanks again.

    • Even I did not get any receipt or rejection packet from USCIS, but as a backup plan I am doing a internal transfer to Ireland via my company. Did any one hear about receiving rejection packets? My attorney has even stopped responding to my emails regarding H1. Pathetic !!!

  4. HI,

    The MNC I work for has sponsored my H1B and with luck its picked up in Lottery FY15.
    I have been thinking of pursuing an MBA in US sicne my bachelor’s days, but have not been motivated towards it.
    Now that I have a chance to be in US on H1B, is it legal to study MBA (preferably partime or online) in USA.
    If not, what are the other ways to fulfil my wish to have a MBA in US 🙂
    Thanks in Advance!

  5. I have nearly 6 years of experience and to grow well in my career or to stand apart from the crowd, we need some advanced degree to be with us so that employer can trust us with the expertise which we bring to the table. As i was not motivated enough to go for MBA, i decided last year to study MS which was my long pending passion. After applying for colleges, i received a offer from a US based company for a job in US which i accepted, they applied for H1B and luckily the application was selected in the Lottery process. Also i got admission in NYU as well for my MS in CS. Now for me letting go of any of them is tricky and according to me not an option. I know that after investing in MS i may not end up with an H1b visa because of the LUCK factor, which is important so as to recover my investments, but at the same time i do not want to let go of this opportunity learn as well.

    So what my understanding says, do not know how much feasible it is, is that go for H1b job right now and part time do you MS. What are the challenges i would face is something i am unaware of at the moment.

    What i am thinking is, because the MS session starts in September, i will go on F1 to study there as full time and when my h1b gets approved will come back and let go of F1 and go again on H1b, and this time instead of full-time will study part time? Any thoughts or suggestions will be valuable for the course of action i will be taking.

    Thanks in Advance.

    • Bijil,
      Yes, with the current situation, getting H1B is tricky and subject to luck. If you want both, you can do it the way you suggested or maybe the better way to do it is get your H1B Visa stamped, defer your admission for next semester and study part time from next semester. The big advantage is you will never have to stop education after your start , no need to travel back and do change of status. Entering US on H1B Visa is good as it is dual intent visa. If you enter US on F1 visa, stop your education and again travel to India for stamping, it may complicate your situation at Consulate for stamping…

  6. Well this is written in a very idealistic manner. Sometimes there are situations which make you move ahead in certain direction you never intended to. Like I have my husband with a well contented job working on his H1B and I came here on my F1 did my masters and could not make it through this LUCK governed lottery. I can’t be sitting idle at home waiting … neither am I passionate of doing another Masters or MBA. But alas I have no choice and I am forced to go in for another degree.

    • Hi Kriti,
      I can imagine your situation. Did you search for employment at cap exempt universities or research/ non-profit institutions ? One of my friends wife started with volunteering at a school at a research lab as intern and eventually they ended up sponsoring her H1B Visa. It can be difficult, but not impossible. Look around for community colleges, universities, etc..you should be able to find something…Good Luck !


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