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Posted on October 19 2022

Canada, Germany retain the most foreign students who study abroad

By Editor
Updated July 25 2023

Highlights: Canada, Germany are the top OECD nations retaining foreign students

  • Among OECD countries, Canada and Germany are the top countries retaining international students.
  • OECD has 38 countries as members in the group, including France, Australia, Japan, New Zealand, and Estonia.
  • Canada has PGWP that allows international students to work in Canada after their graduation.
  • Germany allows non-EU nationals to extend their residence permit for another 18 months after their graduation to work.

It could be interesting for you to learn that Canada and Germany have earned the distinction of being the top countries in retaining international students who study abroad. These countries have the most effective programs to enable international students to work in the country after finishing their graduation.

The percentage of students retained in these two countries is the highest among OECD member countries. Here’s a comparative look at it.


Percentage of foreign students retained








New Zealand











What does Canada do to retain international students?

Canada has the PGWP (Post Graduate Work Program) that enables international students who study abroad and complete their graduation in Canada to stay back for work. The validity of a PGW permit is up to 3 years. The PGW permit is also exempt from LMIA. This means that the employer in Canada giving them work doesn’t have to produce

  • the proof for non-availability of qualified native workers for the job offered
  • the recruitment of foreigners won’t affect the existing workers with the employer

The student must have graduated from a recognized post-secondary/secondary school in Canada. The educational institution must offer qualifying study programs for a minimum of eight months.

It’s international students who have done at least a 2-year course who can qualify for a 3-year PGW permit. Others will have their PGW permits valid for a period corresponding to the length of their course of study, starting from 18 months.

Eligibility for PGW permit

You can be eligible for a PGW permit if you meet the following criteria:

  • You are aged at least 18 years.
  • You have studied in Canada in a full-time program continuously for a minimum period of eight months.
  • You must apply for a PGW permit within 180 days of the date of completion of the study program.
  • You must have completed the course and passed all the requirements of the study program requirements.
  • It’s necessary that you graduate from one of the following:
    • a public post-secondary school (E.g., a university, a college, a technical/trade school, or CEGEP in Quebec
    • a private post-secondary school operating under the same rules applicable to public schools
    • a private secondary/post-secondary school (in Quebec) offering qualifying study programs that runs to at least 900 hours leading to a DEP or an ASP
    • a Canadian private school that has the authority to legally issue degrees adhering to provincial law (only if students are enrolled in a study program for an authorized degree)

Also read: Canada open work permit now made available to certain PGWP holders

What does Germany do to retain international students?

Graduates from non-EU countries can extend their residence permits after they study in German and complete their graduation there. This extension can be sought for up to 8 months. In this period of time, foreign students can look for jobs and work for any employer until they find full-time employment.

Once they find a job with at least a one-year contract, they can apply for a Germany EU Blue Card. This will allow them to live and work in Germany.

If you are willing to study in Canada, talk to Y-Axis, the leading immigration and career consultant in the UAE.

If you find this blog engaging, you may also like:

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