What Does Your Student Visa Offer?
Of the many factors and thoughts that compete in your mind when deciding your foreign university of choice, the word “visa” is sure to flash a lot. Your student visa is your ticket into the country of your choice and being able to compare the pros and cons of these tickets can make an oft-puzzling job easier. Here are the basic benefits your student visas can offer you around the world:
As a full-time student to the U.S. you will need the well-known F-1 visa. During the first academic year, a student with an F1 is only allowed on-campus placements—jobs within the university or at an “educationally affiliated off-campus location.” From year two, you are free to work off-campus for 20 hours per week during the academic year and full-time during break; and you can also opt for what is popularly known as a CPT or an OPT. Curricular Practical Training or CPT is a job that would give you real-life experience in your field of study but must be a part of your curriculum, such as an internship. Unlike an off-campus placement, there are no weekly work hour restrictions for a CPT. The OPT or Optical Practical Training refers to temporary employment—of up to 12 months during or after your course—related to your field, such as working with a newspaper or radio station if you are studying journalism.
Post graduate students are also allowed to bring their spouse/partner or family (dependant) to the country, though they will not be able to work in the U.S. while they live with you.
America’s more multicultural neighbour has more relaxed student visa rules. In fact, thanks to the introduction of the Student Direct Stream (SDS) by the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) in 2018, students from India, China, Vietnam and Philippines will be able to obtain their study permits faster and with more ease. While work hours for students remain at 20 for Canada as well, you can work full-time in the country during breaks and apply for a post-graduate work permit (for up to 3 years). The Canadian study permit allows your spouse/ partner or family to accompany you and apply for a work permit, which would last the duration of your study permit.
Across the pond, a full-time student would need a Tier 4 (General Student) visa before flying to their chosen school. Like its American counterpart, a Tier 4 visa allows you to work for up to 20 hours a week in most jobs, and bring your spouse/partner or family to the country with you. In fact, a Tier 4 dependant, unless they are medical or sports professional, can work in the U.K as long as their visa is valid. Extending your stay in the country post your education is a slightly more complicated process in the U.K. since there are no post-work visas issued. However, if you fulfil the criteria and can find a suitable sponsor, you might get lucky.
Unlike in the U.K., you might need a student residence permit along with your student visa for the duration of your course most countries in Europe with the exception of France. Make sure to apply for one as early as possible once you’re at your university. As non-EU students, if you wish to work while you are studying you might need to get an additional work permit, though in most cases your residence permit should suffice. Students are usually permitted to work for 20 hours a week at term time and 40 hours during holidays. However it might differ across the continent—Germany allows 180 part-time working days and 90 full-time working days annually, while in Romania students can work 4 hours a day without a work permit—so make sure to familiarise yourself with the specifications for your destination. Almost all European nations allow students to apply for some form of post-study work permit, some better than others. In some countries, such as Italy, Norway and Germany, and Romania, masters and PhD students can apply for a temporary residency permit post their course to stay on between 6 to 18 months, depending on the country. Others, including France and Ireland have different schemes in place for international students. Thanks to a recent agreement between our countries, Indian students in France can get a 24 month temporary residency as opposed to the unusual 12 month one, while Ireland’s Third Level Graduate Scheme affords a non-renewable 2-year extension.
Australia and New Zealand
Down Under, with an Australian Student Visa (Subclass 500), you can study up to 5 years and work for 40 hours per fortnight during your course. (Unless you are a research masters or PhD student, who have no hour restrictions.) Spouses/partners or have the same work hour rules as the primary visa holder—40 hours a fortnight, and full time if you are a masters of doctorate student. Post your course, the most common option for international students is the Skilled Graduate Visa, which allows you to stay in the country for 18 months to gain work experience.
New Zealand’s Student Visa, while following similar rules for work hours, is valid for study of up to 4 years and lets partners/spouses or family members work full-time if the student is pursuing a degree Level 7 (Graduate Diploma) or above. A Post Study Work Visa is valid for anywhere between 1 to 3 years in NZ.
Asian countries have only recently emerged as countries of choice for overseas education and the guidelines afforded by student visas in Asian countries are still evolving. China’s X-1 student visa is valid for 90 days, and students need to apply for a temporary residence permit, valid for up to 5 years, within 30 days of arrival. In contrast, a residence permit is issued to students on arrival in Japan while Singapore does not need an additional residence permit, only the student visa will suffice. In U.A.E students need to be sponsored by resident family members or their university for a visa, which has to be renewed annually. Under certain criteria brought into effect last year, exceptional students can apply for a 5-year student visa.
The rules for working while studying also differ significantly from country to country in Asia. Outside of Beijing and Shanghai, China’s X-1 visa does not permit working unless it is an internship or job authorised by the university while U.A.E rules allow students with a valid work-permit and permission from the university to work part-time. Singapore and Japan have more relaxed regulations with students allowed to work for 16 hours and 28 hours per week during term respectively.
Post-study work visas are not issued in sync with student visas in most of Asia however, there are other ways to extend your stay and look for job opportunities. A Long-Term Visit Pass in Singapore and applying for a change in resident status in Japan allows graduates to remain in the country for up to a year to job hunt. In China, policy changes over the last few years now allow post-grad students from renowned institutes to apply for work permits.
Students, unfortunately, cannot bring their family or spouse/partners on a dependant visa in Asia.
Image courtesy: Magister Danko/creativecommons.org