After finishing your degree as an international student, there’s a chance you may be considering staying in the country you earned your your degree and taking your career down a path that may not be open to you at home. Working abroad is generally a pretty good idea, particularly in countries that have the best ranking universities, like Canada, the UK, the USA or Australia. There tends to be better opportunity for graduates in these countries and though starting your career abroad might be hard at first, it will pay off later down the line.
The issue with aiming to work abroad is that most of these countries are very strict with their immigration rules – the opportunity to secure well paid jobs makes competition for residency very high. As a result of this high demand, governments are quite keen to only take the best of the best – the skilled workers who have acquired a good degree and are therefore more likely to contribute to the countries economy.
The first step in most countries as far as acquiring permanent residence after your degree is concerned is to apply for a work-experience position/visa. The visa will be called a variety of different things depending on what country you’re in, but most of the time it’ll do more or less the same thing – allow you to work for a limited time in the country in an intern-esque role. You will not be allowed to get just any job; it’ll have to be one that’s directly related to your degree, and you will not be allowed to stay permanently with this visa – only long enough to prove that you can are able to work effectively and do well in the country post-graduation.
After finishing your internship programme (or in most cases, before you finish) there will be an opportunity to apply for a more permanent visa, that may allow you to gain some more work experience, or may grant you a place as a permanent resident. The basic rule is the more work experience you have, the easier it will be to secure a permanent residence visa. Additionally, the ‘better’ your degree is – generally this means a degree in a science/engineering/mathematics (think STEM) subject, the easier it’ll be to be secure a permanent residence visa in a country.
One piece of advice we’re more than happy to give you is to make absolutely sure all of you paperwork after graduation is completely up-to-date and flawless. Your application for a further work visa will be taken very seriously, and even a slight mistake in your work papers could set you back months, and may result in you having to leave the country.
After graduation it’s very easy to relax a little and not worry about anything for a month or so, but generally you’ll only have a narrow window of opportunity to apply for a visa. Start applying as soon as you graduate, and make sure that your paperwork is up-to-date and correct before you graduate so you can go through the process quicker. Often there is a quota for each visa that cannot be increased, so time is of the essence to guarantee work experience post-degree that will lead to permanent residence.
For a more in-depth analysis of the post-graduate schemes available to foreign students in Canada, the UK, the USA and Australia, read our article on The Possibility of Working After Studying – The Different Rules In Each Country.