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10 countries with post-study work visas for int’l students

post-study work visa
From the happiest country in the world to the Lion City, these countries offer international students post-study work visa options. Source: William West/AFP

Post-study work visa options are a major allure for international students. It’s an opportunity to work in a new culture, gain new skills and see the world from a new perspective.

From Canada to Ireland and Germany, we take a look at 10 countries that offer international students a post-study work visa:

Australia

Australia has some of the best universities in the world and is home to vibrant cities, stunning beaches and an array of beautiful wildlife and nature. It’s no wonder why students worldwide flock to pursue degrees in the Land Down Under. 

If you’re considering Australia as a study destination, the good news is you can also apply for the Temporary Graduate Visa which will allow you to stay for two to four years (depending on your degree) once you graduate. 

Post-study work visa

The UK’s Graduate Route is valid for up to two years. Source: Tolga Akmen/AFP

The UK

Another prime study destination would be the UK. The UK Home Office opened its new post-study work visa — the Graduate Route — for international students on July 1, which would allow international graduates to apply for the right to stay for a job experience at the end of their university programmes.

It is valid for up to two years. You cannot extend your Graduate visa, but you can switch to a different visa, for example, a Skilled Worker visa, which allows you to come to or stay in the UK to do an eligible job with an approved employer. This visa has replaced the Tier 2 (General) work visa.

New Zealand

There’s more to New Zealand than being the filming location of The Lord of the Rings.

Beyond its impressive landscape and sceneries, it is home to eight universities that are among the top 500 in the world.

Depending on your qualification and where you studied, their post-study work visa would allow you to work for any employer for between one and three years and do almost any work.

Ireland

There are many reasons to study in Ireland: its quality education aside, the country is also the European hub to over 1,000 leading multinational companies, notes Education In Ireland.

Over 1,000 FDI giants in ICT, Social Media, Pharmaceuticals and Finance have made Ireland the hub of their European operations, with names such as Google, HP, Apple, IBM, Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter, Pfizer, GSK and Genzyme. They need talent to drive their success.

It’s possible for international students to stay in the country after graduating under the Revised Third Level Graduate Scheme Permission. “This allows non-EU/EEA students who have graduated from Irish higher education institutions to remain in Ireland for 24 months to seek employment,” notes Education In Ireland.

The US

The US has always been known as the land of opportunity, which makes it unsurprising why many flock to the country to chase the American Dream. If you want to work in the US after completing your degree, your F-1 visa will make it possible.

International students on an F-1 visa are eligible to apply for Optional Practical Training (OPT), provided that they’re studying in the US for a minimum one year period. Under this, international students are permitted to stay and work in the US for 12 months without being sponsored by an employer.

The STEM OPT is an extension of the standard OPT, allowing students 24 months instead of 12 to work in the US after graduation. 

The H-1B visa is commonly referred to as the US’s staple work visa. It’s a temporary work visa that allows non-US residents to work in the country for up to six years. They need to have graduated with a minimum bachelor’s degree in the same or related field of the job scope. 

You can’t apply for this visa yourself — your employer has to file it for you. This is why it’s important to network and build connections while you’re still on OPT status. 

Canada

A quality education and high living standards are among the allure of studying in Canada. 

You may be eligible for a post-graduation work permit (PGWP) if you have graduated from a designated learning institution (DLI) in Canada. The PGWP allows you to temporarily stay in Canada to work, but to apply for a Canadian work permit, you will first need to meet certain criteria to work in Canada.

The PGWP may be issued based on the length of the study programme for a minimum of eight months up to a maximum of three years.

Germany

Studying in Germany notes that graduates from non-EU/EEA countries can work in Germany after they finish their studies by extending their residence permit for up to 18 months after graduation. 

“These 18 months begin as soon as you finish your final exams, so it would be best if you start looking for employment while you are still at university, or during your final semester,” notes the website. 

“Keep in mind that during these 18 months, you can work whatever job you can in order to support yourself until you find full-time employment, and it does not necessarily have to be related to your field of study.”

Upon securing a job in Germany, you can apply for the EU Blue Card programme, a work- and residence permit for non-EU/EEA nationals. All EU member states — except the UK, Denmark and Ireland — issue the EU Blue Card.

You could be eligible if you are a non-EU citizen and you have completed tertiary education and/or you have three years or more professional experience in the profession related to your profile.

post-study work visa

Students in South Korea can apply for the D-10 visa, or the job-seekers visa, to find employment in the country. Source: Jung Yeon-je/AFP

South Korea

South Korea has a strong economy and its universities are among the best in the world for the pursuit of academic excellence. Actress Angelina Jolie’s eldest son, Maddox, is said to be studying biochemistry studies at Yonsei University.

There are opportunities to work in the country after graduation. Students can apply for the D-10 visa, or the job-seekers visa, to find employment in the country. The D-10 Visa is available for students who have earned an associate or bachelor’s degree. 

You can switch to an E-1 Visa after finding employment. There are seven categories: Professor (E-1), Foreign Language Instructor (E-2), Researcher (E-3), Technical Instructor/Technician (E-4), Professional (E-5), Artist/Athlete (E-6) or Foreign National of Special Ability (E-7). Get more details here.

Separately, the South Korean government is introducing a new type of travel visa specifically designed to draw in global talents. Named the “Hallyu” visa, which literally translates to “Korean wave”, it refers to the sharp rise in popularity of Korea’s entertainment, music, TV dramas and movies.  

Singapore

Located in Southeast Asia, the small but mighty country of Singapore is renowned for its quality of higher education and research. Examples of world-class institutions include the National University of Singapore and Nanyang Technological University.

For international students, you’ll be granted a Short-Term Visit Pass after your student pass has expired, which will give you 90 days to look for employment. If you are graduating from one of the following Institute of Higher Learning (IHL) in Singapore, you can apply for a one-year Long-term Social Visit Pass, which is non-renewable.

International students could be eligible for three types of post-study work visas: 

  • The Employment Pass is for foreign professionals, managers and executives  
  • The S Pass is for mid-level skilled staff — candidates need to earn at least SG$2,500 a month and meet the assessment criteria
  • The EntrePass is for eligible foreign entrepreneurs who are keen to start and operate a business in Singapore that is venture-backed or possesses innovative technologies

Find out what other employment visa options are available here.

Finland

A world-class education, high-quality of life and free student healthcare services. Who wouldn’t want to live and study in the happiest country — Finland — in the world?

After your studies, non-EU students can apply for an extended residence permit  for up to a year after graduation. This is intended to help graduates in their search for work.

Once you secure a job as a graduate, you can then apply for a new residence permit based on your new work placement.

Study in Finland notes that finding a job in Finland can be challenging as not all fields of study offer opportunities for employment before graduation. They add that job applicants may also be required to have Finnish or Swedish language skills.