post-study work visa
The UK is well-positioned to fulfil demand for elite higher education. Source: MANJUNATH KIRAN/AFP

One of the appeals of studying abroad is the opportunity to experience a new work culture via a post-study work visa.

Luckily, many English-speaking countries offer such visas for international students, including Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the US and the UK.

Here are some of the basics of what students should know about gaining valuable work experience in these countries:


With a Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP), international students who have graduated from eligible Canadian designated learning institutions (DLIs) can work in Canada for up to three years.

There are many requirements to meet to obtain a PGWP — one of them is students must currently hold valid temporary status or have left Canada.

You are ineligible if you have previously been issued a post-graduation work permit or have received funding from Global Affairs Canada (GAC).


The post-study work visa helps students to gain work experience in Australia. Source: Saeed Khan/AFP

International students who plan to live, work and study in Australia temporarily after completing their studies must apply for the 485 visa. There are two streams to choose from:

  • Graduate Work: This visa is for international students who have recently graduated with skills and qualifications that are relevant to specific occupations that Australia needs. Students can usually stay up to 18 months with this visa.
  • Post-Study Work: This visa is for international students who have recently graduated with a degree from an Australian institution. Students can usually stay between two and four years with this visa, depending on your qualification.

New Zealand

post-study work visa

International students can stay for up to three years with a post-study work visa. Source: MARTY MELVILLE/AFP

New Zealand’s post-study work visa lasts for one, two or three years, depending on the level of students’ qualification and where they studied.

The visa will allow students to work for any employer and work in almost any job New Zealand, with the exception of providing commercial sexual services or operate or invest in a business that does, according to New Zealand Immigration.

The work visa of those who complete their study outside Auckland before the end of 2021 can be valid for two or three years.

The criteria vary according to your nationality and country of residence. Students who aspire to live in New Zealand permanently should note that getting a skilled job in an occupation where there’s a shortage could improve their chances of getting a residence visa.


post-study work visa

The OPT programme allows eligible international graduates to work in the US for up to one year after completing their studies. Source: Nicholas Kamm/AFP

International students in the US with an F-1 visa must be in the country to apply for the Optional Practical Training (OPT).

The OPT is a student visa extension which allows eligible international graduates to work in the US for up to one year after completing their studies. STEM graduates get an additional two years.

This temporary pass allows international graduates to remain in the US, apply for jobs and find a company to sponsor their employment visa.

It’s worth noting that on June 22, President Donald Trump signed an executive order suspending temporary visas for foreign workers until the end of 2020, but the OPT programme will remain in place

This means successful OPT applicants can proceed to find work in the US this year.


The UK currently offers a two-year post-study work visa for international students, but there are calls  to double the duration to make the UK more attractive to students post-COVID-19 and Brexit.

The visa allows international graduates to work or look for a job for up to two years after graduating; it is also known as the “graduate route”.

The UK government said: “After the two years, they will be able to switch onto the skilled work visa if they find a job which meets the skill requirement of the route.”

International students will still be eligible for the post-study work rights upon graduation if they begin or continue their studies online in the 2020/21 academic year.

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