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What are the options available for international students after graduation?
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Roshna Mohan

Roshna Mohan is a Content Writer at Hotcourses India - an IDP company. A post-graduate in Biotechnology, she chose content writing as her career out of sheer interest. Reading and cooking are her stress-busters. Talk about these to take the introvert out of the ambivert. Her all-time favourite authors are Paulo Coelho, Yuval Noah Harari and Robin Cook.


05 Aug 2020 Book icon 6 mins Share

What are the options available for international students after graduation?

Post-study work options influence the destination choices made by international students. We bring you the updates from top destinations to help you make an informed choice.

05 Aug 2020 Book icon 6 mins Share
What are the options available for international students after graduation?

According to a QS study in 2019, one of the crucial deciding factors for Indian students while choosing their destination for higher studies are the post-study work prospects. Students are not looking to complete their studies abroad and head back home. They want to explore and gain valuable experience along with their degree. Post-study work is a good option to get hands-on experience of a country’s society and culture, whilst also earning money. We have put together the details of the post-study work options available in the major study destinations abroad.

United Kingdom

The new graduate route by the UK provides a post-study work visa for students who would like to work in the UK after graduation. Students will be given a work permit that is valid for two years. This means that students have two years to search for a job in their field of interest and live in the UK. Undergraduates and postgraduates can stay up to two years to search for work. If you have completed your PhD at a UK university, you have three years to look for work and live in the UK.

To be eligible for the post-study work visa, you should have a valid Tier-4 visa. Students who enrolled for courses in 2020 or later will be eligible for PSW visa after graduation. The study programme should be offered by a higher education institution approved by the British government. Note that you will need to submit a separate application for the graduate route. Applicants will have to pay visa fees as well as immigration health surcharge.

The graduate route allows students to search for all types of work. This will be beneficial for international students as the UK government is actively looking to recruit researches, scientists and academics through the Office of Talent.

Once the post-study work visa period is over, you will have to transition to a general work visa which has a different set of eligibility criteria.

The government is trying its best to support international students and they have confirmed that students will be eligible for the graduate route even if their programme starts online, provided they are physically present in the UK by 6th April 2021.


Canada is one of the preferred destinations for many Indian students looking for permanent residency abroad. International students also show a similar trend and are drawn to Canada due to their high-quality education, world-renowned institutions and what is often considered one of the best lifestyles in the world. In fact, 30 percent of the international student enrolments in Canadian universities are from India.  Let’s see what the rules and regulations regarding post-study employment in Canada for international students are.

You need a work permit to live in Canada after graduation. If you graduated from a Designated Learning Institution (DLI), you will be eligible for post-graduation work permit. Your eligibility also depends on the programme that you have studied.

You should apply for PGWP within 180 days of getting your degree, diploma, transcript or official letter from your school. The fee applicable is CAD 255. There is a chance that your study permit may expire before you get your marks. In such cases, you can either apply for a visitor record to stay in Canada or leave the country and apply for PGWP.

It might not be feasible for all to leave the country and come back again. If you remain in Canada and let your student permit expire before applying for PGWP, you will have to restore your status as a student and then make the application. This would incur additional fees of CAD 350. You have 90 days post expiration to apply for restoration of student status.

The duration of the PGWP depends largely on the programme you chose. You will not be eligible for PGWP if your programme was less than eight months long. If your programme duration was more than eight months, but less than two years, the validity of your PGWP will be the same as the duration of your programme. That is, if you did a one-year long programme, your PGWP will be valid for one year. For programmes that are longer than two years, the PGWP will be valid for three years. If you did more than one programme, you can get a work permit that is valid for the length of both the programmes combined.

You should also make sure that you have a valid passport throughout the work permit duration. The work experience gained through PGWP will help you work towards getting a permanent residence in Canada.

There are several updates to the rules around PGWP considering the pandemic situation. If your programme has been moved online due to the pandemic, you are still eligible for the PGWP.

If you are unable to travel to Canada due to border restrictions, but you have a valid study permit or have been approved or applied for one for programmes starting in the following semesters, you are also eligible for PGWP. However, 50 percent of the course should be done in Canada to confirm your eligibility.

The time spent studying online outside Canada after applying for your study permit will also count towards the validity of PGWP, provided 50 percent of the course was done in Canada. These exceptions are valid until 31st of December 2020.

Another amended rules also allow international students to temporarily work for more than 20 hours if you are a study permit holder and are eligible to work off-campus. The rule applies to students working in the essential service sector too. This change is valid only until 31st August 2020.

United States of America

The USA tops the list of the most preferred study destination for Indian students. Not surprising, as 19 of the U.S. universities made it to the top 50 universities according to the World University Rankings, 2021. The U.S. remains a popular destination for the educational opportunities, wide-ranging financial aid, positive graduate outcomes and career prospects.

Several options are available for students who remain in the U.S. after completing their studies and before they gain permanent employment.

OPT or Optional Practical Training: Students who complete a graduate programme in the U.S. are eligible for OPT. Students have 90 days post-graduation, to find a job relevant to their field of study. There are two types of OPT – Pre-Completion OPT which is valid while you are pursuing your studies and the Post-Completion OPT, which starts after completing the programme. The period of pre-completion OPT will be deducted from the post-completion OPT. You must complete an OPT application to be eligible for this.

You will have 90 days post completion of your studies to find employment to be eligible for OPT. Unpaid work is also considered as an OPT activity. You can sign up for an internship or other volunteer services related to your studies so that you are not forced to leave the country.

With the pre-completion OPT, you can work part-time for 20 hours or less per week. If your degree is in certain science, technology, engineering and maths fields, you can apply for an extension of up to 24 months on your post-completion OPT. Make sure you and the employer meet the eligibility criteria.

If practical training is an integral part of the programme you enrolled for, you are eligible for Curricular Practical Training (CPT). It counts towards your qualification to remain in the U.S. You should be an F-1 visa holder to be eligible for CPT. It is authorised by the Designated School Official (DSO) and the authorisation will be marked on the Form I-20.

M1 Practical Training: The M1 visa is for students who go to the USA for vocational studies. Practical Training is the only work permit available for M1 students. Students should apply for this work permit and they can get up to six months of practical training.


Australia’s student- friendly policies have ensured that the country remains one of the preferred destinations for international students. They also offer varied career opportunities. This includes work in the fields of medicine, engineering, finance and technology.

Post-study work visa in Australia is referred to as 485 post-study work visa.

The 485 post-study work stream visa is for international students who have a graduate degree or above. Certification courses and diplomas will not allow you to be eligible for this visa. You must have finished your degree in the six months prior to applying for the visa.

You should have completed a degree programme with a duration of not less than two years and the programme should be offered by CRICOS (Commonwealth Register of Institutions and Course for Overseas Students) and provided by eligible Australian education providers.

A bachelor’s degree or a master’s degree will allow you to qualify for a two-year post-study work visa. If you’ve undertaken a master’s degree by research, you’ll be given three years to stay on a post-study work visa. A doctoral degree qualification means that your post-study work visa can be extended to four years.

The Graduate Work Stream of the 485-subclass visa is a temporary visa which has a validity of 18 months. Students who completed their diplomas are also eligible for this visa. The advantage of this visa is that you can work and travel and can have multiple entries into the country.

Australia has also amended its visa regulations as a result of Covid-19. Students who are unable to come to Australia to commence or resume their studies will not lose their eligibility for a work visa.

Governments are amending the rules and regulations around study visas and post-study work permits to attract more and more international students into the country. Now that you have the latest updates from the major destinations, you will be able to choose the one that fits you best. Our Course Matcher tool can also help you find the right institution based on your preferences and qualifications. Check out our Latest news page for updates on the latest developments in the higher education sector around the globe.

A version of this article originally appeared on Hotcourses Abroad.

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