I can give you my feedback for what it’s worth. I am French and I was in China when I decided to apply for business school. I target more or less the top 8 schools (US only). I didn’t travel to the US at that time, as you mentioned it is very expensive to do so and the reward/benefit for doing so didn’t seem strong enough in my view. Instead I spent most of my time contacting alumni form each school, I contacted a ton of them, kept a spreadsheet with all the details, ... Some schools are also quite strong in different countries overseas and I was able to get in touch with alumni in China and HK which was great.
Ultimately if the schools are interested you will be asked for an interview: either from alumni or from official recruiting coordinators if the school send some overseas. In my case Tuck sent someone to Beijing and although it was quite far from my home at that time (Shenzhen, 2000km+ far away
) I insisted on making the trip and interviewed there although someone from their team mentioned that they would have totally understand if I hadn’t come. For 2 other schools (Wharton and Chicago GSB) I met with alumni in HK for a formal interview.
Bottom line is that if you can’t or don’t want to visit schools in the US it is totally fine but the school will expect you to find alternative ways to show your interest. Ultimately you are in great position, I believe candidates based in a different location than their home countries have a significant advantage during the interview since you can use a lot of interesting stories and experiences which are usually a lot more interesting than what a banker/consultant can say if he has spent his all life in his own country doing the same type of work (no offense intended against bankers and consultants).
Good luck !
Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth
Tuck Alumni, Class of 2008