Visa News For Students Wanting To Study Abroad
Destination countries across the world have adjusted their visa policies for international students Here are the latest updates from the UK, Ireland, US, Canada, and Australia.
To mitigate the issues posed by the pandemic and Brexit, the UK has devised more flexible and attractive visa policies for foreign students.
- From 1st January 2021 onward, everyone visiting the UK for a short period can do so on the same type of visitor visa. This includes international students who can study in the UK on a visitor visa for up to 6 months, instead of applying for the old short-term study visa (STSV). This is a good opportunity to more easily study an English Language course in preparation for university studies.
- New post-study work policies benefit graduates from bachelor’s, master’s, and PhD programmes.
- The Graduate Route is a new PSW visa available for graduates from 2021/22 onward, which will allow them to stay in the UK for 2 years following graduation to work in any field.
- Students completing a PhD course will be able to stay in the UK for 3 years!
- The UK has confirmed that any online study undertaken during the pandemic can be counted towards the requirements for PSW permits.
Click here to find out more about post-study work opportunities available around the world.
The Irish government has eased visa conditions for international language students, adjusting the 2 year maximum period permitted to complete English language courses.
- Students who had to leave Ireland early will be allowed to return and their absence will not be counted as part of the 2 year period.
- Students who remained in Ireland and overstayed the 2 year period will be allowed to stay until they can safely go home, but must enrol in online courses for the remainder of their study.
The US has made a number of changes to their visa policies recently, which have not been overly reassuring for international students.
- Although ICE backtracked on their ban against foreign students entering the US whilst studying online, the ban still applies to new international students.
- If a new international student’s course will begin in a fully online format in the fall semester, they will not be permitted to enter the US (though this implies some flexibility for new students on hybrid in-person/online courses).
Other policies will affect international graduates.
- Until the end of the year, the US is suspending the most common work visa – the H-1B visa – preventing foreigners from seeking specialised employment in the US, which includes such jobs as engineers, doctors, and IT experts.
- International graduates can still apply for the 1-2 year Optional Practical Training visa, which allows them to work in an area directly related to their field of study – though the OPT has also been subject to scrutiny by the Trump administration.
Canada has introduced a number of visa policy changes which apply to new and current students. These include:
- Priority processing of study permits for students who have applied online.
- Flexibility for students to submit the required documents in two stages. Where the pandemic has disrupted the issuing of medical, language, or police certificates, students can submit the documents they do have, receive a conditional permit approval to enrol and begin their studies online in the fall semester, and enter Canada later once the remaining documents have been submitted and the permit has been issued.
- Online study completed during this waiting period will count towards the requirements needed to apply for a post-study work permit.
- For international students who already possess a study permit, travel restrictions to enter Canada do not apply. However, students may only travel to Canada for ‘non-discretionary or non-optional’ purposes, which has led to some confusion.
Another measure aiming to expedite international students’ entry to Canada is the proposed ‘Study Safe Corridor’. The proposal is awaiting government approval, and could see chartered flights bringing Coronavirus-screened students from select countries, subsidies to cover part of students’ flight cost, hotels offering “full-service quarantine packages” for students during their mandatory 14-day quarantine, and health insurance included in the plan.
Australia is adopting similar visa changes to Canada.
- Visa offices outside Australia will resume processing applications so that students may return as soon as borders reopen, and additional time will be granted for students to obtain the necessary documentation.
- New visa applications will be free of charge for current students who have been unable to complete their studies within the validity of their original student visa.
A number of other visa policies address student uncertainties about PSW eligibility.
- International students who have to continue their studies in an online format outside of Australia can count this towards their PSW eligibility requirements.
- Foreign graduates can apply for PSW visas from their home country.
- Students from Hong Kong will now be eligible for five-year PSW visas.
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