Canada has finally announced its much-anticipated plans to restrict international students moving into the country.
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has unveiled a temporary cap on the issuance of study visas for international students. According to the information released by IRCC, the cap for the year 2024 is anticipated to lead to approximately 360,000 approved study permits, marking a 35% decrease from the figures recorded in 2023.
“International students are vital to Canada and enrich our communities. As such, we have an obligation to ensure that they have access to the resources they need for an enriching academic experience. In Canada, today, this isn’t always the case,” Marc Miller, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, said.
“Today, we are announcing additional measures to protect a system that has become so lucrative that it has opened a path for its abuse. Enough is enough. Through the decisive measures announced today, we are striking the right balance for Canada and ensuring the integrity of our immigration system while setting students up for the success they hope for,” Miller added.
IRCC is set to implement caps for each province and territory, with these limits being proportionate to the respective pop
These caps will not affect existing study permit holders or those seeking permit renewals. Masters and doctoral degree pursuits are also exempt from these limitations.
Effective January 22, 2024, all study permit applications submitted to IRCC will require an attestation letter from the relevant province or territory (PT). PTs are expected to establish the process for issuing these letters by March 31, 2024. IRCC has expressed its intention to reassess the cap in the year 2025.
In addition to the study permit caps, IRCC has announced modifications to the eligibility criteria for the Post Graduation Work Permit (PGWP). Starting September 2024, international students engaged in study programs under curriculum licensing arrangements will no longer qualify for the PGWP. This decision addresses concerns about oversight in private colleges compared to public institutions.
IRCC has also introduced a positive change for graduates from masters programs and other short graduate-level programs, allowing them to apply for a 3-year work permit. This adjustment is crucial as it addresses the limitation faced by masters students under the current criteria, which ties the PGWP duration to the length of the study program.
In the coming weeks, IRCC will release more details on open work permits for the spouses of international students. Notably, these open work permit.
The decision to implement these measures comes after Miller’s public discussions on the matter, expressing concerns about the integrity of the system. Minister Miller highlighted challenges such as institutions admitting students without providing promised education and the strain on essential services due to the rapid increase in international student numbers.
The recent IRCC release acknowledges that certain institutions have significantly increased their student intakes for financial gains, leading to students arriving without adequate support. The release emphasizes the strain on housing, healthcare, and other services resulting from the surge in international students.
Canada witnessed over 800,000 international students in 2022, and projections indicate a potential rise to over 900,000 in 2023. Minister Miller has expressed the need to bring the system under control, citing concerns about a permissive designated learning institution (DLI) structure and advocating for robust discussions between provincial governments and DLIs.
In December, IRCC implemented other changes to the international student program, including doubling the cost-of-living requirement. Additionally, a Trusted Framework Agreement with DLIs is expected to be in place for the 2024 academic season, promising expedited processing for study permits at eligible institutions.