The Graduate Visa Route – UK, Canada & USA


Students who go abroad for post-secondary studies look for jobs once they have graduated to supplement their finances to help them settle their student loans and make living abroad affordable. Post-study visas also enable them to get invaluable work experience and enhance their chances of settling down there. The UK was the most sought-after place to head to for education for students because it offered post-study visas. This was gradually adopted by other countries as well and has become just as popular.

Graduate Immigration Route – UK


After the previous post-study visa route was phased out in 2012, there was a gap that needed to be filled for students looking to work after their education was over. Recently, the UK has introduced the Graduate Immigration Route. This allows students to stay in the UK after their program is completed and work at any level. There is no cap to the number of students that are allowed to stay under the scheme, nor is there a minimum wage level. Students who have completed their degree from a recognized UK university will be allowed to stay and work or look for work for two years. Those with a Ph.D. can stay for up to three years. This visa makes studying in the UK more attractive for a lot of prospective students. All students who will be completing their degree after July 1, 2021 (or later), will be eligible to apply for the post-study work visa. Students will also need a track record of compliance and have a valid student visa when submitting their application. The catch is that students whose visa is expiring before they have a chance to apply will not be able to extend their stay in the UK.

With the graduate immigration route, you can work in most fields, look for employment, be self-employed, and even do voluntary work. You may also continue to live in the UK with your partner and children if they are eligible and also choose to travel abroad and return to the UK.

Quick Facts:

  • 500,000 international students annually in the UK
  • The program aims to increase this number to 600,000 by 2030
  • The number of student visa applications has increased 19% since June 2011
  • 86% of sponsored study applications are for higher education in the university sector

Post-Graduation Work Permit – Canada


One of the most international student-friendly countries, Canada welcomes students with not just good education but also opportunities for finding employment. It offers the Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) which is valid for three years after completion of a post-secondary program at a designated learning institution (DLI) in Canada. The program offers the flexibility to work full-time, part-time, and even be self-employed. In light of the current pandemic, Canada is offering permanent residency to 40,000 international graduates who have completed an approved Canadian post-graduate program in the last four years (after January 2017). Even if international students have been unable to participate in in-person classes due to COVID-19 travel restrictions, they are eligible for PGWP. Studying in Canada is considered a fast-track option to permanent residency.

Quick Facts:

  • The number of PGWPs increased by 74.2% from 2017 to 2019
  • During the same period, the percentage of study permits increased by 26.2%
  • Of all the PGWPs issued, Indians make up 54.4%


Post-Completion Optional Practical Training (OPT): United States


The US is the most popular study destination for international students. Its F-1 student visa offers temporary employment through Optional Practical Training (OPT). This isn’t a separate work visa, but a benefit of the F-1 visa. Students can apply for OPT while studying and this is known as the pre-completion OPT. When they apply for OPT after graduation, it is known as post-completion OPT. The number of months that a student is enrolled in pre-completion OPT is deducted from the months that the student can spend on post-completion OPT. Post-completion OPT enables students to find employment in an area that is related to their major. They can further choose to work part-time for up to 20 hours per week or full time for up to 12 months. Students who are STEM graduates can opt for an OPT extension up to 24 months.

Quick Facts: 

  • The highest number of OPT Employment Authorization Documents (EADs) requests were approved in 2019 and they stood at 223, 284 
  • This number has nearly tripled from 2003 to 2019 and STEM OPT accounts for almost half of this


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