Countries that let Foreign Graduates stay the longest

Countries that let Foreign Graduates stay the longest

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Countries that let Foreign Graduates stay the longest
Mandira Pangeni

Many international students are looking for countries that offer them the opportunity to find a good job before or after completing their studies, as immigration, work permit, and visa rules are becoming more strict around the world.

Obtaining a work permit after graduation is a key factor that students consider when choosing a country to study in, as it allows them to gain international work experience and offset some of the costs of their studies.

However, it is important to note that just because a country allows students to stay for an extended period after graduation does not guarantee employment. Students will still need to search for, apply for, and successfully pass an interview for a job to gain employment abroad.

Here, we will discuss the top 10 countries that offer the longest work permit periods after graduation. Some countries allow students to stay for up to 3 years after completing their studies.

United Kingdom

The UK is one of the top destinations for international students, second only to the US. It is also known for offering some of the longest work permit periods to international students after graduation.

In response to the tensions surrounding Brexit, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson extended the period that foreign graduates can stay in the UK to find work from four months to two years.

According to a government statement, this policy change applies to students who graduated from UK universities in the summer of 2020 or later and is intended to attract "the best and brightest" international students to study and work in the UK.

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Other European countries have made similar changes in recent years, requiring a minimum post-study period of nine months for graduates seeking employment.

New Zealand

Recently, lawmakers in New Zealand have changed the length of time that recent graduates from certain programs can work and seek employment in the country. This change has increased the work permit length for these graduates, with non-degree holders now being able to stay in the country for up to two years and those with a bachelor's, master's, or PhD being able to stay for up to three years.

This is a significant increase from all graduates' previous work permit length of one year. As a result of these changes, New Zealand has become one of the top destinations for students looking to work abroad after completing their studies. The country's generous work permit policy makes it an attractive option for those seeking to gain international work experience and build their careers.

The United States

The Optional Practical Training (OPT) program is available to foreign students in the United States who have recently graduated. It allows these students to work in the US for 12 to 36 months while still on their student visas, depending on their field of study.

According to research from Pew, a significant percentage of foreign graduates approved for employment through the OPT program specialise in science, technology, engineering, and math fields.

These fields are known for their high demand for skilled workers. The OPT program provides a valuable opportunity for foreign graduates to gain practical experience and build careers in these in-demand fields. The OPT program is just one of the ways that the US supports foreign students transitioning to the workforce after completing their studies.


In Australia, recent graduates can stay there for some time after completing their studies. The length of time they can stay depends on the type of qualification they have received. Two types of visas are available to graduates: the Graduate Skilled Temporary visa and the Skilled-Recognised Graduate visa.

The Graduate Skilled Temporary visa allows graduates to stay between 24 months and four years, depending on their qualifications. To qualify for this visa, individuals must be under 50 years old, be in good health, and be competent in English. The Skilled-Recognised Graduate visa is specifically for recent engineering graduates under the age of 31 and allows them to gain 18 months of skilled work experience within Australia.


In Germany, a student's residence permit will expire automatically after completing a top university program To be able to work in the country after completing their studies, students must apply for an extension before their permit expires. Graduates from the European Union and the European Economic Area have unrestricted access to the German labour market.

At the same time, citizens of non-EU and EEA countries may extend their residence permits up to 18 months after graduating to explore employment opportunities and consider career possibilities in the country. This extension allows these graduates to work in Germany and gain valuable experience in their field.


Non-European students who wish to stay in France after graduating must have a promise of employment or a work contract and be paid at least one and a half times the minimum wage to stay there.

Suppose they do not have a promise of employment. In that case, non-European graduates may still be able to stay in France for up to 12 months by obtaining a non-renewable APS (temporary resident permit) while they search for employment.

To qualify for an APS, the graduate must have a professional bachelor's degree or a master's-level degree or be in the process of starting their own company. This allows them to look for work in France and build their careers there.


After graduating from a program of study in Canada, students can work temporarily or even live permanently in the country. However, individuals must first obtain a work permit to work in Canada. Working in Canada provides valuable work experience and helps individuals qualify for permanent residence.

The length of time that a work permit is valid depends on the length of the study program. For programs that were more than 8 months but less than 2 years, the Post-Graduation Work Permit may be valid for the same length as the study program. For programs that were 2 years or longer, a work permit may be issued for a maximum of 3 years.

Hong Kong

To strengthen its competitiveness and support long-term economic development, Hong Kong has implemented the Immigration Arrangement for Non-local Graduates (IANG) to attract and retain talented individuals.

This arrangement allows non-local students who have recently graduated to stay in Hong Kong for 12 months after graduation without restrictions, allowing them to search for employment. This policy is designed to support the professional development of these individuals and contribute to the growth and success of the Hong Kong economy.


Ireland has recently launched a growth strategy called "Ireland Educated, Globally Connected" to expand its international education industry. This strategy aims to attract more international students to the country and increase revenue from the international education sector.

As part of this effort, Ireland has introduced the Third Level Graduate Scheme, which allows non-EU/EEA students who have graduated from Irish higher education institutions to stay in the country for up to 24 months while they search for employment. This policy is intended to support the professional development of these individuals and contribute to the growth of the Irish economy.

The Netherlands

The Netherlands changed its permit rules that allow international students to have an extended period of 3 years to apply for their job search year. This is known as the Orientation Year for Graduates Seeking Employment, allowing students to spend up to one year looking for work in the Netherlands.

If they can secure a job during this time, they can stay in the country as long as they have that job. The Dutch government has implemented this policy and others to attract and retain top international talent, recognizing the value that these individuals can bring to the country's economy and workforce.

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