It’s been a long time since travelling between countries was easy. Over the past decade and a half, it’s become harder to obtain the necessary permits to travel abroad – even for graduate level students. And, yes, that applies to prestigious degrees, such as MBAs. And it still applies after acceptance to highly-ranked, globally-known institutions such as Harvard, INSEAD, and London Business School.
Getting Your Hands on a Study Visa
Just because you’ve been accepted, you’re not entitled to a visa to enter the country of that institution. Well, that’s not strictly true; you won’t get a visa for the United States simply because you’re enrolled at Wharton, but your admission to schools in Singapore come with the right to enter the country to study. That’s not the norm, however. You won’t find it as easy at Rotman in Canada, Cambridge Judge in the United Kingdom, or IE Business School in Spain.
You will need to have a few things in place before applying for your visa to study in most countries. At the very least, that stack includes an acceptance letter from your university, proof of funding, health insurance, and all of the standard papers required when applying for a visa.
Student Visas are Just the Beginning
International students often select universities based on the job opportunities available to them post-graduation. While many plan to return to their home countries at some point, the return path is often not as direct as voyage out to business school. Accordingly, MBA candidates should consider how easy it is to obtain study visas and post-graduate visas to remain in the country while looking for employment.
USA – Apply for an F-1 study visa for your MBA. After graduation, most students are eligible to stay for 12 months as part of an Optional Public Training Program – as long as they work or intern in their field of study. If you secure a job during your studies, your employer will need to sponsor your H-1B visa. There is a cap on the number of these visas available annually, and there are strict deadlines for application.
Canada – MBA applicants with an offer from Canadian universities will need at least two months to apply for their study permit. These expire 90 days after graduation. If applications are done in time, graduates qualify for one-year work permits. Rotman grads are automatically given three-year visas.
UK – Students outside of the EEA will need to apply for a Tier 4 visa. After graduation, a Tier 2 visa enables you to remain in the UK for six months to pursue employment. Once you accept a position with a UK company, you can remain on the Tier 2 visa as long as you have company sponsorship.
France – Unless you are an EEA or Algerian national, MBA candidates must apply for a Visa de long séjour pour etudes (VLT-TS); applications are completed through Campus France. MBA grads are entitled to an Autorisation provisoire de séjour (APS) which allows for a little more than part-time work for a year. Full-time employment permits require grads to earn a salary more than 1.5 times higher than national minimum wage and are subject to categories of work.
Germany – Obtaining a visa for MBA study in Germany is a two-part process. Students require a Visum zu Studienzwecken for the first 90 days. During this time, they will need to apply for a residence permit at the local Alien Registration Office. Graduates from German universities can apply for an 18 month extension to work in Germany. Once formally and indefinitely employed, an EU Blue Card may be secured.
Spain – The procedures for obtaining Spanish study and post-MBA work permits are remarkably similar to those in Germany, including the two-part process. Keep in mind that most students cannot get their initial study permit after landing in Spain and must make a plan beforehand.
Australia – Applicants require at least six weeks to obtain an Australian study visa and must apply using form 157W. This is valid for the duration of study. Requesting a two- or three-year work permit after graduation is relatively straightforward – as long as you’ve completed two years of study in Australia.
Singapore – Students enrolled in Singapore MBA programmes will receive their visa along with their acceptance letter. But, they will need to apply for a Student Pass within one month after the course begins. Luckily, this allows for work during study. Graduates with jobs will receive employer-sponsored visas; while those with degree in hand but no job offers can apply for an “Approval in Principle Work Visa” that enables them to search for employment.
Anyone pursuing an MBA outside of their country of residence should be prepared to become an expert in visa applications. You don’t have a choice, especially if you plan on additional exchanges, internships, and study trips. And, yes, you’ll have to apply for visas to all those countries too.
Katie Schenk studied human rights and graduated with a bachelor’s degree from Kent State University while working with NGOs in Geneva. Although she has since settled in South Africa, with work towards a master’s in forced migration thought the University of Witswatersrand, nothing stops her from being a proud American. Katie has been part of the Prodigy Finance team as a content specialist since 2013. She also loves rugby, sloppy Mexican food and Tudor history, which means you could find her in any section of a bookstore.
* This blog post is sponsored by our friends at Prodigy Finance