The Post-Study Work Visa: Can Your Country Compete?

Wondering whether strict, post-study work visa regulations are deterring international students from choosing your university? Read on to see how your country compares.

Imagine you’re an international student for a minute.

You’ve invested considerable time, money, and a lot of mental energy into a university degree in a foreign country.

You’ve finally finished your degree and you’re getting ready to graduate, but you want to stay in this country and make the most of its career opportunities.

If you’re dealing with strict post-study work visa regulations, then this may not be a possibility.

According to our 2019 International Student Survey, when choosing a country to study in, 35% of respondents want to be able to get a work visa after graduation.

So, how does your country compare? What does it offer international students when it comes to post-study work visa options? And could this be an incentive or deterrent for prospective students?


Currently, undergraduate and master’s students can stay in the UK for up to six months after graduation, and doctoral students can stay up to a year.

For those who wish to stay longer than six months, employer sponsorship with a Tier 2 visa is a necessity. The only exception to this is the Doctorate Extension Scheme for PhD graduates.

However, this will change in the 2020/2021 student intake with the UK announcing that international students who graduate from a UK higher education institution will be able to stay in the country for up to two years.


Those international students who choose to study in the US on a F1 visa have a grace period of just 60 days after the completion of their course (M1 students only have 30 days).

F1 students can also apply for Optional Practical Training, which allows them to conduct 12 months of practical training related to their degree.

With rising restrictions for F1 student visas and minimal post-study work visa options, many international students may decide to look beyond US universities for their higher education needs.


In Australia, international students can apply for a Temporary Graduate visa (subclass 485), which allows them to stay in Australia for 2-4 years after they’ve graduated.

Those students with a bachelor’s or master’s degree (by coursework) can stay for two years, those with a master’s degree (by research) can stay for three years, and those with a doctoral degree can stay for four years.

This visa also enables international students to include family members in their application.


International students who study in Canada can apply for the Post-Graduation Work Permit, which allows them to stay for up to three years.

After they graduate, international students have six months to apply for the permit and they can apply from either within Canada or from their home country.

These relaxed regulations may encourage international students to choose a Canadian university over a US or UK institution, both of which are fierce competitors in the higher education space but suffer from strict post-study work visa regulations.


In 2018, Japan eased post-study work visa restrictions in a bid to encourage graduates to remain within the country.

As a result, graduates are allowed to work in any role as long as they meet the income threshold of three million yen.

Before this announcement, graduates were only allowed to find work within their field of study.

International students will need to change their status from a student visa to a working visa and prove they have an offer of employment.

For new graduates, finding employment quickly may be an issue (particularly if they aren’t fluent in Japanese), so this could dissuade international students from choosing a Japanese university.


Following graduation, international students in China can apply for a Z visa, which requires a minimum of two years of work experience.

This may be difficult for new graduates to achieve, as those completing a bachelor’s degree would usually not have two years of work experience on their resume.

Additionally, international students studying in China are not permitted to undertake part-time work while studying, so there’s no option to gain work experience during that time.


For those international students finishing a degree in France, the Autorisation provisoire de Séjour (or APS) visa allows them to stay for up to one year.

This Temporary Residence Permit is offered to non-EU/Swiss students and is provided free of charge.

While graduates are allowed to work under this APS visa, they are restricted to approximately 20 hours of work a week.

Once they find a full-time job, graduates can transition from the APS to a temporary work visa.


After graduating from a German university, international students can extend their residence permit for up to 18 months.

This period allows them to find a job that relates to their studies.

Once they have a job offer, graduates can apply for the German residence permit or EU Blue Card.

These generous post-study work visa regulations could be a significant incentive for those international students wishing to work in the EU, motivating them to focus their university search within Germany.

Post-study work opportunities can have a huge impact on which university international students choose to study in, so higher education institutions may wish to examine their country’s post-study work visa options, identify areas for improvement, and push for governmental change.

It’s also vital that university staff understand the post-study work visa options available within their country so they can communicate these options to their students.

Students are already thinking about their graduate employment outcomes and employability before they even apply to a university, so your university representatives need to be able to inform students of their post-study options.

If you’d like to learn more about how your university can effectively communicate with prospective international students, contact our QS Enrolment Solutions team today.


About the Author:

As the B2B Content Marketing Manager, Sarah Linney is responsible for communicating the insights, research, and market analysis that have positioned QS as a thought leader in the higher education sector. After completing a Communications-Journalism degree at Charles Sturt University in Australia, Sarah worked in radio news and B2B print publishing before joining the content marketing sector. While working at a content marketing agency, Sarah was transferred to their New York office. She then led content marketing efforts at two tech startups in New York as a Content Manager before deciding to make the move to the UK and QS. 

Leave A Comment