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 work visa policies. Each country has its own policies that can be challenging to navigate. As visa rules change periodically, make sure you check on the updated rules before you decide on your destination.
Here are the visa rules for some popular study-abroad destinations:
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 the Post-Completion Optional Practical Training (OPT). The OPT 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. The student can initiate the application process for an OPT, with a request to the designated school official (DSO) for a recommendation.
Besides the OPT option, a company can sponsor your work visa, called the H1. This 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 fiscal year.
For more information on post-study 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 If you have earned your degree under the Tier II student visa category from a recognised university or college in the UK, you can apply for the Graduate Visa. The Graduate Visa allows you to stay back for two years. However, if you have completed a doctoral degree, then you can stay back for three years. You will need to submit all the required documents online when you are nearing the completion of your degree and can expect a decision within eight weeks. Your visa will be valid from the day your application is approved.
If you want to stay longer in the UK, you cannot extend your Graduate Visa. However, you may be able to switch to a different visa, such as the Skilled Worker Visa. To switch to a work visa, you will need to be employed by a licensed sponsor. Your work visa is typically valid for five years. 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 partly 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 180 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 programme 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. Read more about the specific details of the conditions of the PGWP.
4) The EU:
With the addition of English-taught master’s programmes, The EU has started to see an influx of international students. If you are a Non-European Union student, you may be able to stay in your host country for 6 to 18 months to find a job or to start a business, depending on the Member State.
However, for some, you would have to apply for a visa extension to look for a job after graduation. Ensure that you look into your Member State’s policies, as you would need to do this before the expiration of your residence permit for study.
For more details, visit the official European Commission page about student visa extensions here. Also, the EU Immigration Portal is a useful source of information about coming to work or studying in the EU for more than 90 days as it compares the policies across different Member States.
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.
Graduate Work Stream Visa: If you have graduated with the skills and qualifications related to an occupation considered in demand in the Australian labour market, as indicated in the ‘Skilled Occupation List (SOL)’, the Graduate Work stream visa is applicable. This visa is granted for 18 months and can not be extended.
The Post-Study Work Stream Visa: On the other hand, international students who have graduated with a degree from an Australian institution must apply for the Post-Study Work Stream Visa option. This visa is granted for a period of two to four years, depending on your highest educational qualification. 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. Typically, students apply for Permanent Residency in the country during this extended period. If the PR is granted before the Post-Study Work Stream Visa expires, then there is no need for a visa thereafter.
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. It takes up to six weeks to process the visa. 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.
7) 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.
8) The UAE:
Recently, the UAE has seen a rise in international students since several 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.
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