On January 22, Immigration Minister Marc Miller unveiled a series of new measures, effective immediately, aimed at regulating the influx of international students to Canada. The key provisions are as follows:
1. Two-Year Temporary Cap on Undergraduate International Students:
Implementing a temporary cap lasting two years for international students at the undergraduate level.
2. Provincial Attestation Requirement:
Commencing January 22, 2024, international students must include a provincial attestation with their study permit application. Provinces and territories are expected to establish a process for issuing attestation letters to students by no later than March 31, 2024.
Any application must be submitted with the attestation otherwise the application will be returned, except if the applicant is :
- a minor child in a primary or secondary school (kindergarten to grade 12)
- a student in a masters, PhD or other post-graduate program
- a student applying to extend your study permit
3. Exclusion of Curriculum Licensing Arrangement Programs from PGWP:
Starting September 1, Post Graduation Work Permits (PGWP) will be unavailable for programs at institutions involved in curriculum licensing arrangements.
4. Extended Work Permit for Master’s Graduates:
Graduates of master’s programs and other short graduate-level programs will become eligible to apply for a three-year work permit. This addresses the limitation of the current criteria, where the PGWP duration is tied to the length of a student’s study program.
5. Restriction on Open Work Permits for Spouses:
In the near future, Canada will announce that open work permits for spouses will only be available to international students enrolled in Master’s and PhD programs. Spouses of international students in other education levels will no longer qualify for an open work permit.
It's important to note that the cap will not impact current study permit holders in Canada, including those seeking extensions.
The 2024 cap aims to approve 364,000 study permits, reflecting a 35% decrease from 2023. The cap for 2025 will undergo reassessment by the end of this year.
With the cap, the number of new international student arrivals will align with the number of students whose visas expire, resulting in no net increase in the international student population in Canada.
New Measures to Strengths Students Integrity
Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has revealed its decision to impose a temporary limit on the issuance of study visas to international students. According to an IRCC statement, the cap for 2024 is anticipated to lead to around 360,000 approved study permits, marking a 35% reduction compared to the figures for 2023.
Moreover, IRCC is implementing specific caps for each province and territory. These caps will be determined based on population size, resulting in substantial reductions in provinces where the growth of the international student population has been deemed unsustainable.
The limitations will not affect existing study permit holders or those seeking study permit renewals, and individuals pursuing master's and doctoral degrees are exempt.
Effective January 22, 2024, Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) stipulates that every study permit application submitted must be accompanied by an attestation letter from a province or territory (PT). PTs are required to establish a procedure for issuing these letters by March 31, 2024.
The department has announced its intention to review and reassess the imposed cap in the year 2025.
Changes to eligibility criteria for Post Graduation Work Permits and Work Permits
IRCC has introduced modifications to the eligibility requirements for the Post Graduation Work Permit (PGWP).
Commencing in September 2024, international students embarking on a study program integrated into a curriculum licensing arrangement will no longer qualify for the PGWP.
IRCC clarified that, under curriculum licensing agreements, students physically attend a private college authorized to deliver the curriculum of a related public college. Despite the recent popularity of these programs among international students, they possess less regulatory scrutiny than public colleges, creating a loophole in PGWP eligibility.
IRCC has additionally declared that graduates from master's programs or other concise graduate-level programs will now have the opportunity to seek a three-year work permit.
Presently, the duration of a Post Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) is determined by the length of the individual's study program. This existing criterion significantly constrains master's students by reducing the timeframe in which they can accumulate Canadian work experience and, consequently, impedes their ability to transition to permanent residency.
In the coming weeks, the department plans to unveil additional information about open work permits for the spouses of international students. According to IRCC, open work permits will exclusively be offered to spouses of international students enrolled in master's and doctoral programs.
Regrettably, spouses of international students enrolled in other educational levels, such as undergraduate and college programs, will no longer meet the eligibility criteria for open work permits.
Challenges to system integrity
The implementation of this measure was widely expected, as Immigration Minister Marc Miller had initiated public discussions about the possibility in the summer of 2023 and reiterated it in a December release.
He went on to mention in an interview with CTV News last week that he intends to unveil measures concerning temporary residents, specifically focusing on international students, during the first quarter of this year.
There has been increasing pressure on IRCC to address the influx of international students in Canada. The minister has emphasized that the sheer volume of students poses a challenge to the integrity of the system. In the CTV interview, he highlighted instances where some institutions had individuals from outside the country paying a premium without necessarily receiving the promised education.
As per the recent communication from IRCC, it states that certain institutions have notably augmented their enrollments to boost revenues, leading to more students arriving in Canada without the necessary support for success. Additionally, the release underscores that the swift rise in the influx of international students to Canada places strain on housing, healthcare, and various other services.
International students in Canada
Canada enrolled more than 800,000 international students in 2022, and the minister anticipated a further increase to over 900,000 in 2023.
In an interview with CTV, the minister expressed concerns about the system being out of control and emphasized that IRCC has been working to address internal federal issues. He also raised alarms about a "permissive" structure among designated learning institutions (DLIs) within provinces, urging provincial governments to engage in "robust" discussions with their DLIs. DLIs are the exclusive post-secondary institutions authorized to admit international students, numbering over 1,000 in Canada, with 529 located in Ontario.
In December, IRCC introduced other adjustments to the international student program, including doubling the cost-of-living requirement from $10,000 to $20,635 for international students. This change aims to better prepare international students for the actual cost of living in Canada.
Furthermore, IRCC is anticipated to implement a Trusted Framework Agreement with DLIs in time for the 2024 academic season. Eligible DLIs will enjoy expedited processing for study permits.
If you are our educational client (e-Visa client) and would like to review your study plan, please contact your education consultant to explore the available program options.
If you are not yet our educational client, we are offering a link to schedule a consultation with one of our educational consultants at a discounted rate.
If you wish to review your plan for Canada and explore other possibilities beyond studies, schedule a consultation with one of our Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultants, also with a special discount.