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Posted on 30 Jun '22

5 Useful Work Visa Schemes for International PhD Students

Last year, the UK government’s new Graduate Route visa scheme opened, allowing international students who have completed a PhD at a UK university to live and work in the country for up to three years after finishing their doctorate.

And the UK isn’t the only place with a post-study visa scheme that encourages talented PhD students to stay on and continue their career.

This blog will take a look at five other countries around the world that have generous work visa systems in place for international students, explaining what kind of opportunities are available and what the eligibility criteria are.

It’s worth bearing in mind that if you’re an EU, EEA or Swiss national, you don’t need a work permit to seek employment in the European countries listed below.

#1 Germany

After you’ve finished a PhD in Germany, you can apply for a residence permit that allows you to seek employment for up to 18 months. You’ll need the following documents:

  • Your passport
  • Your university (or a certified document from your university confirming that you’ve graduated)
  • A health insurance certificate
  • Proof that you can support yourself financially (or a declaration of commitment from a guarantor)

This residence permit means that you can undertake any kind of work while you search for employment that suits your qualification. Once you’ve received a suitable job offer, you can apply to extend the residence permit.

If you’re interested in embarking on a career in research, the Research in Germany portal has a wealth of information on postdoctoral opportunities in Germany.

Find out more about the German residence permit or read our guide to studying a PhD in Germany.

#2 Denmark

If you’ve completed a PhD at a Danish university, your residence permit will remain valid for six months after graduation, allowing you to look for a local job but only on limited terms.

During this period, you can apply for an establishment card (etableringskort), which will give you an additional two years to seek employment in Denmark, with no limits on the nature of the work.

In order to apply for the establishment card, you’ll need to prove that you can support yourself financially for the first year of your stay – the amount is currently DKK 90,624 (€10,449), but it’s more if you’re planning on bringing your family with you. There is also a DKK 1,750 (€200) application fee.

Find out more about the Danish establishment card or read our guide to studying a PhD in Denmark.

#3 The Netherlands

International PhD students in the Netherlands can apply for an ‘orientation year’ visa (also known as a zoekjaar), which gives them permission to search for a job for up to one year after graduation.

There aren’t any restrictions on the nature or salary of the work you undertake during this orientation year, but afterwards you’ll need to apply for a residence permit with the status of a highly-skilled migrant. This residence permit requires that you earn a salary of at least €1,725 per month.

Interestingly, you don’t necessarily need to have completed your PhD in the Netherlands to be eligible for an orientation year visa – this scheme is open to anyone who has earned a doctorate from a top 200 university in the past three years and can prove their English language proficiency.

Find out more about the orientation year or read our guide to studying a PhD in the Netherlands.

#4 Canada

Canada’s post-graduation work permits (PGWP) allow international students who have studied a PhD at a Canadian university to remain in the country for up to three years after graduation. You’ll need to have studied on a full-time basis at a designated learning institution.

You should apply within 180 days of receiving your PhD. There is a fee of CAD $255 (USD $200) and you can apply online. Online applications usually take around 100 days to process, but you can work during this time as long as you have a valid study permit.

The PGWP means that you can undertake any form of work, gaining employment experience that can help you qualify for the Canadian Experience Class (one of the routes towards permanent residence in Canada).

Find out more about the PGWP or read our guide to studying a PhD in Canada.

#5 Australia

International PhD students in Australia can apply for a Temporary Graduate visa (subclass 485), which allows them to live and work in Australia for four years after their studies have finished.

The visa costs AUD $1,680 (USD $1,260) and you’ll need to satisfy the following eligibility criteria:

  • Be under the age of 50
  • Meet English proficiency requirements (unless you have a passport from the UK, Ireland, USA, Canada or New Zealand)
  • Hold health insurance
  • Meet Australian health requirements
  • Sign the Australian values statement

After four years, you can apply for another skilled work visa (you can’t extend the Temporary Graduate visa).

Find out more about the Temporary Graduate visa (subclass 485) or read our guide to studying a PhD in Australia.


Editor's note: This blog was first published on 31/10/19. We've checked and updated it for current readers.



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Last Updated: 30 June 2022