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STUDY ABROAD : Career Prospects - Must read

The post-study landscape for international students

One of the critical factors that's often taken into account when selecting a study abroad destination is what options are available after graduation. We delve deeper into the details of post-study work visas.

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When evaluating your study abroad options you’ve likely spent some time analysing what post-study opportunities and work options exist in various destinations. We know that this can be a deciding factor in choosing where you end up studying. Whether it’s the professional and career prospects for your chosen area of study or the chance to gain valuable experience and spend more time in a country, it’s important to know what’s on offer. We’ve investigated some of the most popular international student destinations to put you in the picture of what to expect and the details of post-study life.

UK post-study visa



As one of the most popular study abroad destinations, featuring 18 of the world’s top 100 universities (QS World University Rankings 2020) and an enviable global reputation for the quality of the higher education system, the UK has also redesigned its graduate route opening up new opportunities for international students.


Under the new scheme, which kicks off for graduates in April 2021, international students who fulfil the requirements for the award of an undergraduate or postgraduate master’s degree will be eligible to remain in the country for two years after graduation to live and search for work. If you’ve completed your PhD at a UK university, you’ll be eligible for three years on the post-study work visa scheme.


To qualify you will need to have a demonstrable history of visa compliance and have a valid Tier-4 visa. Remember that you will need to ensure that the institution from which you graduate is officially registered as a Higher Education Provider. The submission of a new visa application is required for the graduate route, which includes an application fee and the immigration health surcharge.


The graduate route allows you to search for all types of work, to encourage students to seek skilled employment. This is especially true for STEM graduates, who the UK government are actively looking to recruit, including promising researchers, scientists and academics through the newly established Office for Talent.


Given that we currently live in unprecedented times the UK government has given an assurance to international students that even in cases where a course or degree will need to be started online, students remain eligible for post-study benefits. This is the case as long as you have arrived in the country before April 6th 2021.


Canada post-study visa



With high education standards, world-renowned institutions and what is often considered one of the best lifestyles in the world, students are understandably drawn towards Canada. In fact, over 642,000 international students called the country home in 2019, placing it third on the list for the most students. Question is, what options are there for you if you rather like Canada and want to stay after graduation?


There are a few ways that you’ll be able to remain in Canada to live and work after your student visa expires. Principally this is via the post-graduation work permit (PGWP). The PGWP allows students who have graduated from designated learning institutions (DLI) to search for work in the country after graduation. Remember that it doesn’t just depend on whether an institution is accredited as a DLI, but applies to the programme that you have studied as well. You must check the eligibility of both.


There are some strict timelines in place if you intend to apply for a PGWP. You’ll need to do so in less than 180 days after receiving your final results, which may be before your actual graduation ceremony. There is also a CAD 255 fee associated with the application. The Canadian government advise that if you are at risk of having your student visa expire before receiving your final results, you should apply for a visitor record or leave the country and apply externally for the PGWP.


The amount of time you’re given to stay in Canada to live and work will depend on the length of your study programme:


  • Eight months or less means you do not qualify for a PGWP.
  • More than eight months and less than two years may mean a PGWP equivalent to the length of your programme.
  • Two years or more qualifies you for a PGWP of three years.
  • Multiple programme completion may mean you can get a PGWP that combines the length of all programmes, as long as the programmes are eligible and longer than eight months.


If you find that you don’t qualify for a PGWP there is still the option of applying for either an open work permit or an employer-specific work permit. Each requires you and your potential employer to meet certain qualifying criteria.


USA post-study work visa



The USA boasts the largest international student community in the world with over one million students studying in the country. The U.S. derives its popularity as a destination through a variety of factors including the significant educational options for students, wide-ranging financial aid, an internationally endorsed education system, as well as positive graduate outcomes and career prospects.


For students who intend on remaining in the U.S. after completing their degree, several routes are available. However, they can be difficult to navigate and understand, with each designed for a specific purpose. Choosing the right one that suits your requirements is critical. The most common graduate routes followed are:


  • F-1 student visa work rights through Curricular Practical Training (CPT) for 12 months. It’s a component of your academic programme and counts towards your qualification to remain in the U.S.
  • F-1 student visa 12-month extension through Options Practical Training (OPT). You can work in the U.S. in a related field to your studies.
  • The H1B Employer-sponsored visa. You have to have been offered employment and endorsed by a sponsoring employer. Only 85,000 of these visas are granted every year.
  • The non-immigrant H-1B visa (speciality occupation). You’ll need an employer to sponsor you and have a minimum of a bachelor’s degree. Your work will also need to be related to your field of study.
  • The non-immigrant E-1 /E-2 visa will allow students from certain countries who have a treaty with the U.S. to obtain this visa. For an E-1 visa, you’ll need to work for a company that has 51% of its trade between the U.S. and your home country. For an E-2 visa, it’s trickier as a substantial financial investment is required.
  • The non-immigrant L-1 visa applies if you work for a company that has a base in the U.S. and wishes to have staff in the country. However, it is designed mainly for executives and managers.


Australia post-study work visa




When you think of Australia it’s likely that images of sunny beaches, marsupials and a relaxed lifestyle. However, it’s also home to some of the top universities of the world, with 35 in the top 100 in the world according to the Times Higher Education World University Rankings. Seven of the country’s universities are ranked within the top 100 in the latest QS World University Rankings 2021. This includes the University of Sydney, the University of Melbourne and the Australian National University.


Australia also offers some attractive career paths and opportunities for students who have completed their studies. This includes work in the fields of medicine, engineering, finance and technology. To qualify for a 485 post-study work visa, you will need to have completed an undergraduate or postgraduate qualification in the country. You must have finished your degree in the six months before applying for the visa. It’s important to note that qualifications lower than a bachelor’s degree, such as certificates and diplomas, mean you will not be eligible for the visa.


What’s important to keep in mind that to be eligible for the visa the length of study of your degree programme needs to be a minimum of two years or 92 weeks. You also need to ensure that the institution you have chosen is listed, registered and accredited by the Commonwealth Register of Institutions and Courses for Overseas Students (CRICOS).  


Studying and completing a bachelor’s degree or master’s degree by coursework in Australia allows you to qualify for a two-year post-study work visa. If you’ve undertaken a master’s 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.


There is a further visa option that you may want to consider, which is a subclass of the 485 visa, namely the temporary graduate visa as part of the graduate workstream. This visa is designed for graduates with in-demand qualifications and skills who will be able to positively contribute to the workplace. With the temporary graduate visa, you can stay in Australia for up to 18 months during which time you can work and travel and can have multiple entries into the country.


Recently there has also been a move by the Australian government to adjust and amend the qualification criteria for post-study work visas as a result of Covid-19. This would mean that students unable to travel to Australia to start or continue their studies would not lose their post-study visa eligibility.


Now that you have a better idea of the post-study work options for various destinations and what’s required to qualify you can use this to inform your research and decision-making process. It’s a strong possibility that you’ll be able to find the ideal combination of factors to suit your unique needs and ambitions. Our course matcher tool can definitely help in this regard and you can also keep up to date with any visa and post-study news on our dedicated news page.

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