Immigration Laws across Countries
Updated on Feb 22, 2016 - 12:34 p.m. IST by Bedasree Das
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Immigration laws across countries
: Every year millions of students travel across the globe to study or work abroad. Many students who go abroad to study also stay back to work and in some cases, they even opt to settle in the country. There are nearly 5 million international students in the world but the exciting news is that the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has predicted that the number would grow by a massive 60% in the next decade. India, of course, is a major driving force of  international student mobility. According to a report, Indian Students Mobility 2015, India is the second largest source for international students in the world after China.

The majority of the students are attracted to five main countries- US, UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, all of which alone cover nearly 85% of the total outbound students from India.

Before deciding to study or work abroad, it is important that you are aware of the immigration rules of the country, be it for studies or work. Here we bring you the immigration laws and policies across the countries followed by the five major countries - US, UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.


Immigration laws in USA:

The USA continues to be the star immigration attraction among international students as well as job seekers from across the world. Immigration is, in fact, one of the reasons why the country boasts of the highest number of international students enrolled in its numerous universities. The USA, currently, has around 9,75,000 foreign students and despite increasing  competition from countries like UK and Australia, it continues to lead in international student education.

As per immigration laws in USA, international students studying in USA fall in the non-immigrant category. Once the student completes the courses, he/she has the following employment opportunities:

Optional Practical Training (OPT): The OPT allows international students to work for 12 months after completing their studies in USA. Foreign students can apply for OPT just nine months after starting their course and can work only after receiving Employment Authorization Document (EAD) from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS).

Click here to know more about post study work visa opportunities in USA

Click here to know about the student visa process in USA

International citizens who want to work and study in USA have to first obtain an immigrant visa, the most common of which are family based and employment based visas. Foreign citizens can either approach the US consulate or fill up the immigration form online for that purpose.


How to apply?

There are two online immigration forms - DS-260 which is an immigrant visa and alien registration application and DS-261 for online choice of address and agent.

The employment based visas, which is the most common category of immigrant visas, is divided into five preference sub-categories, namely,

  • E1-Priority Workers

  • E2- Professionals Holding Advanced Degrees and Persons of Exceptional Ability

  • E3-Skilled Workers, Professionals and Unskilled Workers

  • E4-Certain Special Immigrants

  • E5-Immigrant Investors

International applicants need valid sponsors to be issued an immigrant visa. For this, the prospective employer or agent must first obtain a labor certification approval from the Department of Labor. Thereafter, the employer can file an Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker, Form I-140, with the USCIS for the specific employment-based sub-category.

Immigration laws in UK:

In 2012, the UK government replaced the Tier 1 visa with Tier 2 (General) as the primary route through which non-EEA (European Economic Area) graduates can seek employment in the UK. Further, according to the current immigration laws in UK, some other visa categories like Tier 4, Tier1, Tier5 have been created or changed to accommodate non-EEA graduates in the UK so that they can stay back and work in UK after their studies. The functionalities of the visas are as following:

  1. Tier 4: Doctorate Extension Scheme,

  2. Tier 1: Graduate Entrepreneur and

  3. Tier 5: Youth Mobility, UK Ancestry.

Click here to know more about post study work visa opportunities in UK

Click here to know about the student visa process in UK


Work visa in UK is given to international citizens on the basis of their period of stay. If you are planning to work for 6 months or less you might have to apply for Standard work visa or temporary work visa. However, if you are planning to stay for a period longer than 6 months you have to apply under 4 categories - Skilled workers, Temporary workers, ‘High value’ workers and Commonwealth citizens.

Aspirants have to apply through the UK Visas and Immigration site maintained by the UK government.

Immigration laws in Canada:

With a large number of international students studying in the country; majority of whom are from India; Canada has quite a liberal policy when it comes to letting international students stay back and work in the country after their studies.

According to the immigration laws in Canada, fresh graduates looking for work opportunities in Canada after studies can get a work permit under the Post-Graduation Work Permit Program (PGWPP). The PGWPP allows international students to get gainful employment in Canada and work-permit is given for a period equivalent to the length of the student’s study program and for a maximum three years. In fact, international students can even become naturalized citizens of Canada after a few years of experience through the Express Entry Scheme.

Click hereto know more about post study work visa opportunities in Canada

Click here to know about the student visa process in Canada

Canada’s work permit facility is given to international students depending on the category they fall into- Foreign workers, Students, Business people, Permanent workers and Live-in caregivers.

Before applying for a work permit in Canada, international citizens have to ensure that they have the Labour Market Impact Assessment generated by their employers. Thereafter, aspirants can apply online for the work permit both from within or outside the country.

Immigration laws in Australia:

Australia is one of the countries giving tough competition to the United States in terms of attracting international students. The country, which has over 6 lakhs international students enrolled in its various institutes, has ramped up its position in the global education scenario by offering a more liberal immigration policy for students who wish to stay back and work in the country after their studies.

In 2013, the Australian government replaced its Skilled Graduate Visa with the Temporary Graduate Visa (subclass 485) which allows international students to stay back and work in Australia for a period of 18 months up to 2 to 4 years, depending on the category on which the student falls.

Click hereto know more about post study work visa opportunities in Australia

Click here to know about the student visa process in Australia

You can immigrate to Australia either on a skilled overseas visa or a sponsored work visa. You will fall under the skilled category if you have skills that might be required in Australia. International citizens, usually, fall under the sponsored visa category whereby you are either nominated by an Australian business or the government.

Immigration laws in New Zealand:

Of late, New Zealand has created quite a stir due to a sudden increase in the number of international students flocking to the country. In fact, Indian students are one of the largest contributors of international students in the country and according to Education New Zealand, first-time study visas issued to Indian students spiked dramatically in 2014, increasing by 123%.

Perhaps, one of the most liberal countries for work after study, immigration laws in New Zealand allow international students to stay back and work in the country up to 4 years after their graduation. International students can apply either through an open or employer sponsored visa process for the same.

In 2015, New Zealand also launched the new pathway visa for international students on an 18 - month pilot basis. The pathway visa allows students to study with up to three different education providers in New Zealand over a five-year period.

Click hereto know more about post study work visa opportunities in New Zealand.

Click here to know about the student visa process in New Zealand.

International citizens who get job offers to work in New Zealand can apply for a temporary work visa in New Zealand. The work visa also allows international employees to study for at least three months in every 12 – month period. Such applicants do not have to apply for a student visa. However, if you want to study for a period of more than 3 months, aspirants have to apply for a student visa.

Stay tuned to for more news and updates on immigration


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Arden University, Berlin
Arden University, Berlin
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PTE- Pearson Test of English
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