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Countries with the best post-study work visas

An international survey conducted recently reveals that 40% of students said that having the option to work after they graduate was a contributing factor when choosing where to study.1 Post-study work visas allow graduates to stay on overseas and work without restrictions for a few years, before having to return home.

If you'd like to stay on after completing your studies overseas, do check out these work visa options offered by English-speaking countries and length of stay allowed so you can weigh your options before deciding on which country to study in.

New Zealand

New Zealand work visas let you stay on for a few years after graduation. You can also apply for support visas for your partner and children. You can only get this visa once. If you want to try again, you have to complete another higher qualification (takes 30 weeks or more to complete). However, not all subjects qualify. Studying English in a language school does not count. 

If you are an on-campus student, have completed distance learning or have off-campus qualifications by a recognised institution in Auckland, you are entitled to apply for the post-study work visa.

Length of stay: 1, 2 or 3 years, depending on your qualifications, where you studied and whether you're going for "occupational registration", such as a teaching certificate.

Acceptable qualifications: Level 4 or higher from a New Zealand educational institute, 4 being a certificate and 10 being a Doctoral degree.

For more information, go to the New Zealand immigration post-study work visa page.

Canada

If you have graduated from a designated learning institution (DLI), you can get a Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) once. You must hold valid temporary status in Canada. If you have left the country, you must be able to prove that you were a full-time student when you were there.

You must also prove that you did not receive funding from Global Affairs Canada (GAC) and that you completed more than 50% of your credits in-class.

Length of stay: Up to 3 years, with the length of the permit often coinciding with the length of the qualifying programme.

Acceptable qualifications: Study programme from a DLI lasting between 8 months to 3 years and leading to an approved qualification.

For more information, go to the Government of Canada's 'Work in Canada after you graduate' page.

Australia

If you are under 50 years of age, meet the English language requirements and hold an eligible visa, you can extend your post-study work visas for up to 4 years (5 years for Hong Kong and British passport holders). This is Australia's initiative to attract students and workers to stay, as part of its skilled visa programme. 

This visa allows your immediate family to join you. However, you must meet the health insurance requirements throughout your stay. 

Length of stay: 5 years for Hong Kong and British passport holders; up to 18 months for the Graduate Work visa; and 2-4 years (depending on the qualification) the Post-Study Work visa.

Acceptable qualifications: A degree, diploma or trade certification from a Commonwealth Register of Institutions and Courses for Overseas Students (CRICOS) course, completed over a minimum of 92 weeks.

For more information, go to the Australian Government's Department of Home Affairs 'Post-Study Work stream' page.

United Kingdom

In 2018, 75% of British people surveyed said they supported the Post-Study Work Visa for international graduates. Prior to 2020, international students were allowed to stay in the UK only for 4 months after graduation. Under the Post-Study Work (PSW) visa "graduate route" in 2020, the duration was extended. Dependents of PWS visa holders who get their visa from 2021 will also "have near full access to the UK labour market and can work at any skill level"2.

The government has been urged to extend the visa to 4 years with the launch of a new International Education Strategy3. This reform would ensure that the UK remains a popular destination for students who want to study abroad.

Length of stay: Up to 2 years for graduates; from 2021, an extension to 3 years for PhD graduates; with plans to extend to 4 years.

Acceptable qualifications: International students on a Student or Child Student visa, which replaced the Tier 4 (General) student visa in October 2020, who are enrolled in 2020 or after and graduate from a recognised higher-education provider.

For more information, go to the GOV.UK's visas and immigration page.

United States

A popular choice for international students, the US offers a few post-study work visas. There are two types of Optional Practical Training (OPT): the Pre-Completion OPT, to be used while the student is still studying; and the Post-Completion OPT.

If you hold an F-1 visa, you must remain in the country and send in your application at least 60 days before the completion of their studies. You must also find a job within 90 days.

Length of stay: 1 year after completion of your course or up to 6 months for M-1 vocational visa holders; up to 3 years for science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) graduates with a 24-month special extension after the first year.

Acceptable qualifications: You must have an F-1 visa to apply for OPT and be enrolled full time in an educational institution certified by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP).

For more information,  go to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services 'Students and Exchange Visitors' page.

Before you apply for a post-study work visa, check that you meet the application requirements. Visa criteria varies by country and region and can change without notice. Browse Government immigration websites for the latest updates and information on travel restrictions and visas.

Our country checklists for Canada, Australia, the US and the UK can give you more information about how to prepare for your move.

Preparing to return home or have you decided to stay?

There will be a million things to consider before you head home. Before you pack up your bags and say goodbye to your student life overseas, our checklist can help make your transition smoother. 

If you have decided to work in your host country after graduation and want us to help you with your banking needs as you transition to working life, HSBC Premier can help you do just that.

New to HSBC Premier

To meet either one of the Premier criteria below:

  • Maintain a Total Relationship Balance (TRB)4 with us of RM200,000 or more at all times

  • Have a minimum home loan of RM1,000,000 with your Premier Mortgage5

  • Credit a minimum monthly salary of RM16,500 continuously each month into an HSBC account in Malaysia - with Premier by Perks@Work6

Apply now

Existing to HSBC Premier

Ready to open an overseas account? Book an appointment and we'll guide you through the process.

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For more information, call us on 1300 88 9393 (local) or +603 8321 5222 (overseas).

Important notes:

12020 International Student Survey.

2UK: work rights for dependants of PSW postgrads.

3Universities open to the world: How to put the bounce back in Global Britain.

4Total Relationship Balance (TRB) includes any: Deposits in Current Account/-i, Savings Account/-i, Time Deposits, Term Deposits-i, and/or Investments in Unit Trust funds/Shariah-compliant Unit Trust funds, Structured Investments/-i, Dual Currency Investments/-i and/or Direct Retail bond, and/or Cash value from Family Takaful/Life Insurance products with investment-linked and savings components.

5Account Fee waiver until full and final settlement of home financing.

6Account fee waiver as long as you fulfil the qualification criteria.