Stay Back Period and Post Study Work Visa for STEM vs Non STEM Courses


Samarpita Goswami
Updated on Apr 19, 2023 09:18 PM IST

Getting the chance to study abroad can change a student's life forever, provided you receive a post-study work permit and a long stay back period. Let us now find out the stay back period and post-study work visa for STEM vs non STEM courses.

Stay Back Period and Post Study Work Visa for STEM vs Non STEM Courses

For international students, studying abroad is about choosing courses that allow a maximum stay back period and easy post study work permit with lucrative packages. The hard part is choosing the right course. Most of us tend to focus on the fields that are related to our job search, so identifying the right course can be challenging.

STEM courses generally offer a longer stay back period than non-STEM courses because of their high demand in the labour market. Similarly, STEM graduates get the opportunity to work in high-tech firms. The US News Global Education report estimates that STEM jobs in the USA will increase by 10.5% in the next eight years. 

Non-STEM courses such as humanities, social sciences and commerce subjects also fetch similar stay back periods in a few countries. So, students should choose countries that offer them easy post study work visas. Let us now take you through the comparison between the stay back period and post study work visa for STEM and non-STEM courses to make it easy for you to make choices.

Also Read:

STEM Scholarships in US for International Students

Best Universities in Canada for STEM Courses

STEM vs STEAM: Which one should you choose?

STEM Scholarships in Canada for International Students

Stay Back Period for STEM Courses vs Non-STEM Courses - An Overview 

It is often noticed that countries offer more stay back periods to STEM graduates than non-STEM graduates. The longer the stay back period, the greater the chances of finding a job and gaining experience. Below is a table that shows the stay back period provided by countries to the STEM graduates and non-STEM graduates:


Stay Back Period for STEM Graduates

Stay Back Period for Non-STEM Graduates


3 years 

1 year


2 years (Masters)

3 years (Doctoral)

2 years 


3 years 

3 years 


2 years (Bachelors)

3 years (Masters)

4 years (Doctoral)

2 years (Bachelors)

3 years (Masters)

4 years (Doctoral)


1.5 years 

1.5 years

France  1-2 years  1-2 years 
New Zealand 2-3 years  2-3 years 

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Stay Back Period in USA for STEM Vs Non-STEM Courses

Optional Practical Training (OPT) in the USA allows students to stay back after completing their courses. Generally, the OPT is for 12 months, however, STEM graduates get an extension of 24 months. 

As the economy is shifting from manufacturing to knowledge-based, there is high demand for STEM graduates in the USA. STEM OPT forms 34% of the OPT approval in the USA as of 2020. 

Here is a brief list of STEM courses that get OPT extensions. Note that these are a few out of many.

Courses with OPT Extension

Actuarial sciences


Computer science

Engineering technologies


Soil Microbiology

Life sciences



Plant Science

Non-STEM course graduates can stay in the USA for one year after they complete their degree. OPT helps students to make connections and networks in the industry they are working in. This can help them in getting sponsorship later. Students will definitely benefit from the one-year OPT and it will enhance their resumes.

Stay Back Period in UK for STEM Vs Non-STEM Courses 

The UK, in a bid to welcome international students to study STEM courses in the UK has extended post study work permit duration from 4/6 months to 24 months. Also, students who have doctoral degrees can stay up to 3 years.

The country gives priority to the immigration of highly-skilled professionals like scientists, engineers, and academics. In 2021, the free movement into the UK was replaced by point based immigration system to cater to students and high skilled workers. STEM graduates and doctorate students get benefits under the system. 20 points are reserved for PhD holders in STEM in contrast to 10 points being reserved for PhD holders in other courses.

On the other hand, the non-STEM PhD holders get 10 points on the  UK point-based immigration system. Apart from that, they enjoy the same post-study stay-back period as the STEM graduates.

Stay Back Period in Canada for STEM Vs Non-STEM Courses 

The Canadian government is in dire need of youth with critical STEM skills to develop Canada into a tech country. This hints at the huge possibilities for STEM graduates to stay back in Canada and find suitable jobs. According to Statistics Canada, 2,864,150 STEM graduates were part of the workforce in 2016.

The post-study work stay-back period in Canada is three years. After that, they can get permanent residency and citizenship in Canada.

Non-STEM degree graduates in Canada also get three years post study work permit in Canada. During this time, they can find jobs for themselves. Canada is presently facing labour shortages and the unemployment rate is low. The students have a high chance to secure a good job in the country even if they are not from a STEM background.

Stay Back Period in Australia for STEM Vs Non-STEM Courses 

Australia is an emerging tech country and is coming up with new schemes to develop the STEM sector. The stay back period for engineering graduates in Australia under Skilled-Recognised Graduate Visa is 18 months. 

Under the recent Free Trade Agreement between India and Australia, Indian STEM graduates in Australia will be given extended post-study visas which will increase their stay back from two to three years. Masters by research or Doctorate degree holders in the STEM fields from Australian universities get 10 points in point-based immigration system for Permanent residency in Australia.

Students pursuing non-STEM courses get the two years stay back period for a bachelor's, three years for master's and four years for doctoral degrees. It is the same as the STEM degree holders. 

Stay Back Period in Germany for STEM Vs Non-STEM Courses 

Cologne Institute of Economic Research brought out a report that the STEM fields require specialist staff. So, it is easier for STEM graduates to find job opportunities in Germany. Accordingly, they get 18 months to stay back period in Germany after the declaration of their last results to search for employment. 

Graduates who have gained employment can apply for a residence permit and after two years for a settlement permit. Germany also provides an option for permanent residence if one stays in the country for eight years which also includes the study time. So, STEM graduates have good opportunities to settle in Germany after they complete their studies.

There are abundant jobs for non-STEM graduates in Germany. They too get eighteen months stay back period in Germany. The route to permanent residency is easy in the country. 

Stay Back Period in France for STEM Vs Non-STEM Courses

After receiving a STEM degree, a student in France can only continue his studies if he is employed. Typically, students who are employed full-time can apply for a residence permit. (PR status). Both undergraduate and graduate students may attest to this. 

A graduate student from outside of Europe may apply for an APS (Autorisation Provisoire de Séjour), which is a temporary residency permit, without having been guaranteed employment. While they hunt for work in France, it is non-renewable and only good for a year. They need a professional Bachelor's or Master's degree to do this.

However, postgraduate students are exempted from this rule. Postgraduate students can apply for and are eligible to receive a temporary residence permit for a term of around 12 to 24 months, unlike undergraduate graduates who are only entitled to one upon having paid employment. However, this is only a temporary, non-renewable visa. 

Stay Back Period in New Zealand for STEM Vs Non-STEM Courses 

For both STEM and non-STEM graduates, there are many job opportunities in New Zealand, making it simple for international students and graduates to obtain a work visa and remain in the country. International graduates from New Zealand universities are permitted to gain more work experience in the nation in fields related to their academic specialities. In New Zealand, there are numerous different immigration policies and laws. 

The length of time you are permitted to work will vary depending on the course structure of your education in New Zealand. It can take you a little longer to apply for and receive your New Zealand visa. A work visa can be obtained in one of two methods as discussed below:

  • Open Work Visa: With an open work visa, you can pursue a job in a sector that directly relates to your course of study. You are free to work wherever you wish.

  • Employee-Assisted Work Visa: The employee-assisted work visa enables students to earn at least two to three years of work experience. With this work visa, you will be assigned a specific employer and a set period of time to work.

The countries that offer easy immigration are generally preferred by all students looking to study abroad. When someone decides to study abroad, the stay back period plays an important role in their career growth and experience. Therefore, it is necessary for students to remain updated with the stay back period rules as well as the post study work visa rights. To make it easier, they must select a country where they can study the course of their choice as well as reap the maximum benefits of opportunities post graduation.

If you wish to seek more information about the stay back period and which country should you choose, write to us at

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What is stay back period and post-study work permit?

Stay back period is the number of years one is allowed to stay in a foreign country after completing a degree. In order to stay back in a country, one needs to have a post-study work permit or post-study work visa. Generally, the stay-back period can range from 12 months to 3 years with extension possible through different means.

Which courses provide maximum stay back period and easy post-study work permit?

STEM courses provide maximum stay back period and an easy post-study work permit. Even in countries like the USA where Optional Practical Training (OPT) allows only one year of stay back period, students who have studied STEM courses can get an extension of up to three years

Can I get a long stay back period and post-study work permit if I study MBA?

Yes, you can get a long stay back period and post-study work permit if you study MBA. In the USA, some business schools offer MBA that fall under STEM courses, thereby, allowing students to get 3 years' stay back. In Germany, the stay back period is 1.5 years and in the UK, you can stay back for 2 years.

Does studying engineering help in getting a longer stay back period and post-study work permit?

Yes, studying engineering abroad helps in getting a longer stay back period and an easy post-study work permit. You can get three years of stay back period in the USA and Canada if you have studied engineering. In the UK, the stay back period is for 2 years for master's degree holders and three years for doctoral degree holders.

Can arts and social science students stay back longer and get an easy post-study work permit?

Yes, arts and social science students are given equal importance as STEM students in most countries except in the USA where they get only 1 year of Optional Practical Training (OPT). In Canada and Australia, the stay back period is 3 years which allows students to get a good return on investment.

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