These countries allow international students to work under certain conditions

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Published on 2022-03-09 at 09:00 by Ester Rodrigues
International students who want financial independence abroad have to work during their studies. Moreover, some must work to pay for their studies since not all of them have financial support from their families. And even for those who do, their budget might not be enough for enjoying their host country at the most.

For many international students, the dream to study abroad demands years of preparation and financial planning, but with the Covid-19 pandemic leading to an economic crisis in the last two years, it has been almost impossible to have savings. Therefore, international students might consider working during their studies in order to pay for their expenses or, in the best scenario, have an extra for travelling and enjoying with their new friends. But, to do that regularly, international students should be aware of their working rights and procedures in the host country.

Some countries allow expats with student visas to work, others after studies under conditions. But, even the ones that allow it might have some restrictions, as in the US, where international students with an F-1 and M-1 visa are allowed to work, but only on-campus and in specified training programs. On the other hand, international students willing to study in Finland, for example, can have certain benefits as the country is doubling the quota for international student visas and increasing the number of working hours permitted from April 1st this year. In the meantime, check out countries that allow international students to work legally and their conditions:

United States

International students with an F1 visa can pursue an (OPT-Optional Practical Training), which allows them to work in their field of study and on-campus. Expats can continue working one year after completion of their courses and up to 3 years for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Maths (STEM) graduates. Aside from that, students have the option of changing their F1 visa to an H1B visa after their studies. With an H1B visa, students can work in the USA for up to 3 years, which can further be extended to 6 years.

Expats must be full-time students of any institution certified by the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) for OPT. For those interested in the H1B visa, the employer must guarantee that they will be paying at least 95% of the prevailing wages to the employee. This visa is totally dependent on employment, so if the expat loses the job, they are removed from employment, and the visa is no longer valid.

United Kingdom

International students in the UK usually have a Tier visa, which permits them to work no more than 10 hours per week in term-time if they are enrolled in an undergraduate course and no more than 20 hours per week in term-time if their studies are degree level. Expats can save money during summer and vacations, as they are allowed to work a full-time role during this period (36.5 hours per week if working at the university). Besides, they can work in a full-time position from the official end date of their course. However, during their studies, expats can't be self-employed or working freelance, initiate a commercial activity, be a professional sportsperson including sports coach, work as an entertainer and work as a dentist or a doctor in training, except if enrolled in a foundation program.

Previously, graduates were not permitted to stay for more than 4-6 months after finishing their studies. That policy and the uncertainty surrounding Brexit explain why there has been a dramatic decrease in international students from outside the EU in the UK. Nonetheless, the UK government has loosened its regulations regarding post-study employment visas for overseas students. If they have graduated from a higher education institution, they can apply for a permit in the UK for up to 2 years for graduates and 3 years for PhD students.


International students with a student visa who are willing to work in Spain can work 20 hours a week as in the UK. The job doesn't have to be related to their studies field. However, if they want to do an internship, it does have to be around the subject of their studies in order to have an agreement with the university.

Students visas don't automatically allow work. Besides looking for the job, they have to apply for work authorization at the Oficina de Extranjeria, responsible for issuing it, with all the documents required such as the contract (establishing the number of hours) and the university acceptance letter with the lecture schedules, so they can evaluate whether the student can both work and study. After the end of their studies, expats from overseas interested in working full-time in Spain have to go back to their countries to issue a working visa. But to do that, they need to have a contract with a Spanish company.


From April 1st this year, international students in Finland can work more hours. According to the reforms, they will be allowed to work between 25 and 30 hours per week. Besides, weekly working hours are annually cumulative, meaning that students could work more than 30 hours on some weeks and fewer hours on others, as long as the total amount of hours is within the allowable limit. The hours spent on study-related work or training that aren't actual jobs don't count against the working limit and effectively be unrestricted, according to the proposal.

Another change the reforms bring is the flexibility for international graduates who leave the country after finishing their studies and later decide they would like to return to Finland. The new policy enables them to apply for job search-based residence permits within five years of their student visa's expiry. In other words, graduates could go to work abroad after their studies and then return to Finland to look for jobs if they wish so.