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Work permit process for international students in Canada, Australia, NZ, Germany

Work permit process for international students in Canada, Australia, NZ, Germany

Students all over the world have been exploring educational options, beyond their own country, for several years. International students are always on the lookout for the best any educational system can offer. With scholarships, or loans, students find their means to fund the degrees that suit their career dreams.

Take the numbers from for the year 2014. About 182,000 students from India ventured the seas for higher education in a foreign destination. America being the most popular at grabbing nearly 100,000 students, the countries to follow not-so-closely, at about 25% count or less, were Australia, UK, Canada and New Zealand.

America, with its uber famous universities, scholarship opportunities, job opportunities and the relative ease of bureaucratic processes of visas, permits and immigration to-dos, has been the reigning international student nirvana.

Upon graduation, they can easily get an Employment Authorization Document (the EAD) through the OPT program, arranged between their graduating university and the USCIS. With the one year of OPT, and a STEM extension of another 17 months, one can arrange to find a job and get their work visas in order. It provides a well cushioned system to transition from the student to employee phase, while continuing to study and earn in the US.

However, with potential immigration policy changes in the H1B work visa requirements and the OPT system, many international students are focusing on the possibilities that other degree destinations have to offer. Read Downward Spiral in International Student Applications in the US.

Countries like Canada, Australia, UK, Germany have begun to attract more students (Read Popular Degree Destinations for International Students). In fact Canada is now being considered the most attractive degree destination, according to the 2016 ICEF Agent Barometer report, leading US by a marginal, yet significant, 2%.

Leaving policies and politics aside, we decided to collate the processes of transitioning from a student status to a legitimate work permit, upon graduation, in countries international students frequent to. After all, one of the major attractions of gaining a degree abroad is to have the opportunity to work and earn experience, and a salary, in that country, thus acquiring the much sought after global employment outlook for your resume. Read Average Salary in USA, Canada and Australia, after an MS.

What happens when your degree is over? How do you begin to start working as an international candidate? These are some crucial questions to consider before you decide to choose a country as your degree destination. So here are some of the top countries and their individual policies of how to work after graduation.

Work permit process for international students in Canada, Australia, Germany and New Zealand

Student to Work Transition Process in the Top Five Higher Education Degree Destinations


1. Work permit process for international students in Canada

If you are a student seeking to get a degree in the Great White North, you’ll be required to apply for a study permit before entering the country. And to apply for one you will need to have an acceptance from a designated learning institute. You don’t have to go through the pain of applying for a study permit in case the course is a terribly short one, like less than six months. The details of application and visa requirements are given in Studying in Canada – Eligibility and Visa Requirements.

Assuming that your Canadian graduation story becomes a success, what should you do to legally work in Canada? The answer is a Post Graduation Work Permit Program, or simply PGWPP.

To apply for a PGWPP, you need to have graduated from a participating Canadian institute. How do you know which one is a recognized institute? Well, look to see whether your school checks out one of these boxes (Source Government of Canada Work after Graduation).

  • It is a public post secondary institution, whether college, trade school, university or one of those tongue twisting pre-university colleges in Quebec they call CEGEP (Collège d’enseignement général et professionnel).
  • A private post secondary institution that behaves like a public one, same rules and regulations.
  • In Quebec, programs leading to a Diplôme d’études professionnelles (DEP) or an Attestation de spécialisation professionnelle (ASP).
  • Enrolled in a Canadian private institution that doesn’t necessarily behave like a public one but has a state/province approved program leading to a provincially blessed degree.

Once you are satisfied that your institution meets one of these criteria, just make sure you have been enrolled full time, have passed your degree with your Study Permit still valid and that you are still within 90 days of receiving a completion confirmation.

You also need to keep in mind that the duration of the work permit will last no more than the duration of your original degree, and that your degree should have been at least 8 months long. The table below shows the period of work permit.

Degree duration: 8 months or less Two years or less Two years or more
Not eligible for PGWPP PGWPP = Degree duration

(For two years or less)

PGWPP = 3 years (Maximum)


Once with a work permit, you can apply for a permanent residentship through their Express Entry program that recognizes the keepers with specialized talents. Read Life and Jobs after MBA in Canada and International student life in Canada: What to expect

2. Work permit process for international students in Australia

For the land down under, you can be eligible to receive a Temporary Graduate Visa (subclass 485) which lets graduates from an accredited Australian university to pursue temporary employment in Australia.

The Graduate Work Stream lets skilled graduates to work for 18 months, based on their demand in the labour market, while the Post Study Work Stream allows students with higher degrees to qualify for two to four years of work permit.

According to Border.Gov.Au, you can get a work permit only if you have the following requirements fulfilled.

  • Graduate with at least two years of study in Australia
  • The program should have been undertaken in no less than 16 calendar months at the time of application for work permit.
  • Courses should be registered under the Commonwealth Register of Institutions and Course for Overseas Student
  • Completed the course successfully, in English, and under a legal study visa
  • Degree conferred must be one of Bachelor, with or without honors, Masters with or without research, or a Doctoral degree. Diplomas or trade school degrees won’t make the cut.
  • The occupation should be a close kin of what you studied. So an electrical engineer cannot become a trapeze artist in some Sydney circus.

And finally, you should definitely try to not get eaten by pretty much every two to four legged creature that walks, swims, flies, or crawls, in Australia. Also read Why study in Australia

3. Work permit process for international students in Germany

Germany is one of the friendliest places, to study, for any international student seeking quality education (Read MS in Germany – Costs, Eligibility and Top Universities).

The tuition costs are covered by the state to a large extent. And while you can save a chunk in obtaining a degree in Germany, you can also be assured that you are quite welcome even after graduation. Not without conditions, of course.

Upon graduation from a university in Germany, you are eligible to apply for a Residence Permit for a period of 18 months, to look for a job commensurate to your field of study. To get a Residence Permit, you will need to meet certain requirements.

  • Have successfully graduated from an accredited German university/institute.
  • Have a passport valid for at least the period of assured work permit.
  • Have sufficient health insurance and funds for the period.
  • You are allowed to have any job to support, and sustain, yourself with bratwurst and good German beer, but you need to be employed by the end of the 18th month with a job that matches your degree.

Once you do have a job, you can apply for either a German Residence Permit or an EU Blue Card based on whether you want to continue working in just Germany or have the possibility to explore employment in Italy or France.

4. Work permit process for international students in New Zealand

You can apply for a Post Study Work Visa under three separate categories, upon graduation.

Post Study Work Visa Open – You are eligible to work for any employer, for a period of 12 months, as long as you have obtained your degree successfully and applied within 3 months (6 months in case of PhD) of graduation. You also need to show proof of funds of at least NZ $4,000 for your stay.

Post Study Work Visa Employer Assisted – You will need to have a full time offer from an employer in the same field as your graduating degree. Under this category, you are eligible to work for 2-3 years towards application for residence under Skilled Migrant Category.

Skilled Migrant Category Resident Visa – If you are able to show NZ immigration that you have what it takes to improve New Zealand’s economy, you can send them an Expression of Interest (EOI) and wait for a welcome nod to become a permanent resident. (Source NZ Immigration)

Also read, Why study in New Zealand?

5. Work permit process for international students in the United Kingdom (UK)

As we all know, UK is going through some major changes with respect to immigration rules. With its inclusion in the EU uncertain, the enrollment of non EU international students has also taken a southern turn.

The first time enrollments, in the UK for non EU students, fell from 179,390 to 174,305 in 2014/15, according to the Higher Education Statistics Agency (Hesa). As far as the existing rules are concerned, students generally receive a Tier 4 visa to study in the UK. The equivalent of a work visa is known as the Tier 2 (general). Although there are other visa categories (details here), we will talk about the transition from the Tier 4 to Tier 2 visas.

The requirements to switch from a Tier 4 to Tier 2 are that you have a UK based bachelors, masters, postgraduate certificate or a professional diploma. Even PhD students are eligible to switch as long as they have spent 12 months in the PhD program, in your most recent stay. Of course, a given is that all the above should have their qualification from a licensed Tier 4 sponsor, immigration speak for accredited institutions. Once you have switched, you can stay up to a period of 5 years, beyond which your permanent residency will be incumbent upon your annual salary (> £35,000) or whether you are some kind of an exceptional genius. Meanwhile, according to the latest, among the ever changing reforms, the Tier 1 category of work visa under graduate entrepreneurship has been discontinued. So it would certainly be wise to keep up with the latest on Gov.UK before planning your move.

The opportunity to work in a different country is a part of the whole global education experience. It really gives you the chance to apply yourself in an occupation, thus learning in the company of people from all over the world, before you decide to bring your knowledge back home.

With USA in the limelight of international higher education, it is often easy to ignore the possibilities of study, and eventual employment, in other countries. Perhaps this article can expose you to newer horizons in your education, and career, plans.

Good Luck!
Sources: 1, 2 | Image credit: New Zealand Immigration

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7 thoughts on “Work permit process for international students in Canada, Australia, NZ, Germany”

  1. Hi Sameer, I am a probationary officer with state bank of Hyderabad. I have experience of 1.3 years with bank. I did my mechanical engineering from amity university Noida. Now I am quitting my job to look after my startup which I started last year. It had a revenue of 50 lakh in first year. I want to know , what are my chances of getting in a top 10 b schools across world, if I want to join one of them 2 years from now.

  2. Hi Sameer

    I am 27 years old and want to pursue MBA from a top B School (probably out of India). I would be starting with the GMAT preparation and would appear for it by next year. So by the time I would get into a college I would be 29 years of age. Do I have a chance (with chance I mean is the age a hindrance) of getting an admission into a top B School and would I stand a chance (Is there a negative image of people over 30 for a placement) of a placement as I would be 31 years of age by the time of course completion.

  3. Hi Sameer,

    I have 5 years of work experience; 3 years in Infosys and 2 years instrumentation field experience in government fertilizer industry .After Infosys i have 1.7 years of gap which i took for GATE preparation.Currently i am in govt sector only. Now i wanna go for executive MBA. Please tell me what are my options and how do i start. I had prepared for CAT in my college days and currently i am 30. Is it possible for me to get into a good executive MBA program after such variety of experiences.

  4. Hi Samir,
    I’m a B.Com student under Calcutta University.. I am also studying CA. I want to do for MBA from a reputed foreign university after I complete CA. The problem here is, I had dropped a year during my Graduations due to ill-health. I had also lost a year off my academic career in high school since I studied Science for a year and then switched to Commerce. My academic credentials are :
    ICSE 10th- 87%
    ISC- 12th- 82.5%
    I have cleared CPT in one attempt. Will my dropping a year in my Graduation deter me from doing MBA from a reputed university abroad…? Please help.

  5. @Prashant: Congrats on starting off your startup with a bang. However, no one can tell you about chances based on what you’ve shared. When you are ready to apply, the MBA MAP may help.

    @Ramandeep: Age will surely make a difference for 2-year programs when you move to the other side of 30. Choose your bschools well and spread the risk. Read this:

    @Anisha: There are colleges all over the world that skip the GRE/GMAT, but they aren’t as valued by recruiters. So, don’t fall for easy options.

    @NJ / Aishee: Adcoms will be curious about the gap in your career. Here’s what you need to know to explain those career breaks:

  6. Hi Sameer Sir,
    What are the job prospects for Indian students post an international degree (like MS, MiM, MFin) in countries like US, Germany and France? Why do so many of them come back? Is it because they couldn’t find a job?


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