Student Visas are issued to those who wish to undertake a course of study in another country. Proof of admission, enrolement and proficiency in the local language are necessary. In some countries this can come with limited, part-time employment rights.
Visa and immigration policies in the US are (arguably) significantly less accommodating towards international students and graduates compared to other host countries. The greatest changes to visa regulations occurred after the attacks of September 11, 2001, when the US immediately implemented tougher visa and immigration requirements. Under the Enhanced Border Security and Visas Entry Reform Act (2002) the US introduced a new overseas student tax in order to fund an advanced computer tracking system for visa applications, but also made it more difficult for applicants to transfer between visa categories.
However, recently the US Department of State has established a new internship scheme which has been specifically designed for foreign students. Since July 2007, certain international students are eligible to participate in a year-long internship per degree level for practical training as long as they can describe how the experience can enhance their education.
In 2006, as part of a larger scheme to attract highly skilled labour, the UK government made amendments to the Science and Engineering Graduate Scheme (SEGS) which enabled all international students who have completed a post-graduate degree course (Master’s of PhD starting after 1 May 2006) to remain in the UK and seek employment for up to 12 months regardless of discipline. The Government has also made a special provision for internationally-coveted Masters of Business Administration (MBA) students, allowing graduates of 50 highly ranked business schools to apply for a three year extension to their one year working visa once their studies have been completed. As part of the Highly Skilled Migrant Programme (HSMP), such students have been eligible to apply for permanent residence since 12 April 2005. The Government further extended opportunities for non EU/EEA students in 2007, which allows all students who have completed degree programmes in the UK the opportunity to stay in the UK for employment purposes. The International Graduates Scheme has been in operation since 1 May 2007.
International students travelling to Canada are not required to apply for a study visa unless the programmes they are enrolled in are longer than 6 months. Acquiring a study visa, does however have significant benefits to students, giving them permission to seek part-time employment on campus and since April 2006, off campus, for up to 20 hours per week whilst they are completing their studies. Under the Post-Graduation Work Visa Programmes, international graduates from Canadian higher education institutions are eligible to apply for employment of up to two years.
In New Zealand, international students are not required to apply for a student visa if they are studying for a course which is less than three months in duration. Under certain circumstances international students can seek part-time employment for up to 20 hours per week whilst studying (full-time) in a course that at least 6 months in duration. In July 2007, amendments were made to the Skilled Migrant Category which gives students the opportunity to earn bonus points for recognized New Zealand higher education qualifications or for two years of full-time study in the country. In addition, the number of years to require points for work experience in New Zealand will be reduced and international students may be eligible to apply for a work visa for up to two year upon completion of their studies in the country.