Currently, in the US foreign science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) students can utilise a three-year period of optional practical training (OPT) to look for jobs, or work after they graduate. Students use the OPT time to gain valuable experience to take back home with them or seek out a company that may sponsor them for an H1B visa to remain and works in the US. An H1B visa can be a route to permanent immigration in the US.
The OPT period was originally a one-year extension and under the Obama administration, it was extended to three years. There is concern New President Trump may reduce the three year period back to just a one-year duration.
Other countries are viewing the global uncertainty for highly skilled students as opportunities to attract these students for their own jobs and economies. Ireland last week announced an extension to its “stay back option” which increases the time after graduation Master’s and Ph.D. students can remain from one year to two. The Irish government is hoping to attract bright Indian students to gain experience in and join the biopharma, software, ICT, engineering and finance sectors in Ireland.
Ireland expects the number of Indian students attending Irish universities to have grown at least 10% in the period 2015 to 2016. With Brexit, Ireland becomes the only English speaking destination for university students within the European Union.
Although the US is still a very attractive proposition for foreign students, one of the most attractive in the world, that may change. Other countries with options after graduation also include New Zealand at one year, Germany at 18 months, France at two years, Australia at two years and Canada at three years. Post-graduation visas can enable a route to permanent immigration with the host country.
Germany has implemented the EU Blue Card giving unlimited work and residence to foreign graduates of German universities. France has simplified its visa application process, created the Talent Passport, and increased five-year tourist or business visas for Masters and above graduates in addition to its two-year post-graduate option for normal degrees.
Research students in Australia can get a four-year post-study work (PSW) visa instead of the standard two for other foreign graduates. In Canada using the post-graduation work permit for three years can gain enough valuable experience to qualify for Canadian residency.