A Guide to Post-Study Work Visas
There are a lot of factors that go into choosing where you should apply for your postgraduate education if you are planning on going abroad. Besides the course, college, admission requirements and fees, one thing you should also consider is the country’s post-study visa rules. Each country has its own policies that can be challenging to navigate. Here are visa rules for some popular study abroad destinations. Keep in mind that visa rules change periodically, so make sure you check on the updated rules before you decide on your destination.
1) The US:
The US is still one of the most popular destinations for postgraduate studies. If you wish to study in the US, at the end of your studies, you will be eligible to apply for Optional Practical Training (OPT), which allows you to stay back for an additional year to apply what you have learnt in a job related to your field. In addition to this, if you have a degree from a college that is on the government’s designated list of STEM subjects, you are eligible to extend the OPT by 24 months, allowing you to stay in the US for a total of 36 months after graduation. Apart from this, a company can sponsor your work visa that is valid for three years. Keep in mind that this visa is subject to a lottery system and the US generally has a cap for how many they issue per each fiscal year. For more information on work rules in the US, check the government pages here.
2) The UK:
Another popular destination for international students wishing to pursue a postgraduate degree internationally is the UK. Here, your student visa is valid for four to six months after the completion of your programme if it is 12 months or longer. During this time, you can work full-time, but cannot fill a permanent vacancy, engage in self-employment, professional sports/entertainment or doctor training. To switch to a work visa, you will need to be employed by a licensed sponsor and should have applied before the expiry of your student visa. Your work visa is typically valid for five years. If you have applied for a work visa and it is not granted before your student visa expires, you may continue to work while your visa is processed. Detailed information about converting to a work visa is available here.
In recent years, Canada has seen a rise in international students applying for postgraduate studies. This is in part due to the growing number of job opportunities and easier immigration laws. After you graduate from a degree-granting institute, you can apply for a Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP), which allows you to gain work experience in Canada. As long as your college and course are part of the designated learning institution list, your course is more than eight months and you have applied within 90 days of completing your course, you can apply for a PGWP. However, if your study programme is less than eight months, then you are not eligible for a PGWP. Usually, a PGWP is issued for the length of your study program and is valid for a maximum of three years. After your PGWP, you can also apply for permanent resident status through the country’s Express Entry Scheme. Here are the specific details on the conditions of the PGWP.
World-class universities offering a diverse range of high-quality programmes have made Australia a top choice for postgraduate studies. Apart from this, the country’s visa policies make it easy for recent graduates to stay back and work in the country. If you have completed a two-year course in the country, you can apply for a Temporary Graduate visa (subclass 485). This visa has two streams: the Graduate Work stream and the Post-Study Work stream. If you have graduated with the skills and qualifications that relate to an occupation considered in demand in the Australian labour market, as indicated in the ‘Skilled Occupation List (SOL)’, you can apply for the Graduate Work stream visa. This visa is granted for 18 months and can not be extended. The Post-Study Work stream visa, on the other hand, is suitable for international students who have graduated with a degree from an Australian institution. This visa is granted for a period of two to four years, depending on your highest educational qualification and can not be extended. After the visa expires, you will have to apply for a permanent work visa, for which you can either apply independently or get a nomination from an employer.
If you are looking at options for your postgraduate studies that are closer to home, consider Singapore. Here you can apply for a Long Term Visit Pass with at least 10 days remaining on your student pass. Granted for up to 12 months, provided that you have graduated from an accredited higher education institute in the country, you can use this time to find a job. Once you have been offered a job, your employer will have to apply for a work pass for you.
6) Hong Kong:
To attract and retain recent graduates, Hong Kong has favourable visa policies under the Immigration Arrangements for Non-Local Graduates for students who have graduated from a locally accredited programme in the country. If you apply within six months from the time you have graduated, then you will be considered a fresh graduate and will not need to secure a job to apply. This visa will be granted for 12 months. If you apply after six months, then you will be considered a returning graduate and will need an employment offer to apply. This visa can be renewed based on your contract.
7) The UAE:
Recently, the UAE has seen a rise in international students since a number of global institutions have started satellite campuses in the country and newer, international student-friendly visa rules have been implemented. Now, if you have a GPA of 3.75/4 or above, you can apply for a five-year Long Term Visa without a sponsor. Once you have a full-time employment offer, you must change your university-sponsored visa to an employer-sponsored visa.
Most of these countries have extremely competitive job markets, which makes securing employment difficult. Keeping up-to-date with the country’s rules for recent graduates can help you make a more informed decision about where you wish to study. If you are looking for guidance on how to write your SOP, or where you should apply, get in touch with us.