The countries that let foreign students stay the longest after graduation

The fight for the best and brightest.
The fight for the best and brightest.
Image: REUTERS/B Mathur
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Amid recent Brexit tensions, UK prime minister Boris Johnson extended the period of time foreign graduates could stay in the UK to find work from four months to two years. Students graduating from UK universities in the summer of 2020 and after are eligible.

The policy change aims to attract “the best and brightest” from across the world to study and work in the UK, according to a government statement. International students make up 36% of master’s students and 43% of doctoral students at UK universities in 2016, according to the OECD International Migration database. The UK is the second most popular destination for international students, after the US.

A number of European countries have made similar changes in the past year to comply with a 2016 EU directive requiring a minimum post-study period of nine months for graduates seeking jobs.

The UK, Ireland and Denmark didn’t participate in the directive.

Outside Europe, Chile recently instituted a new visa allowing foreign students with college degrees to seek a job in the country for 12 to 24 months after their graduation. In New Zealand, lawmakers increased the time recent graduates of certain graduate programs can seek a job and work in the country from one year to two or three.

In the US, foreign graduates can apply for a program called Optional Practical Training while on their student visas. It allows students to work in the US for 12 to 36 months depending on a student’s area of study. In recent years, as the US granted more and more time for graduates in science, technology, engineering, and math fields, participants in the program grew by 400%.

The UK’s change is set to make the country a more attractive study-abroad destination. Already, Australians expressed worries (paywall) that even more students would choose the UK over Australia for their educations.