Canada, renowned for its open-door policy towards international students, has faced challenges in recent years. The surge in the number of students, coupled with concerns about the integrity of the system, prompted the government to take decisive action. On January 22, 2024, the Honourable Marc Miller, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, unveiled a series of measures to stabilize growth, decrease the issuance of new international student permits, and enhance the overall support system for these students.
The Need for Change:
1. Rapid Growth and Pressures:
The influx of international students, while beneficial, posed challenges. Some institutions prioritized revenue over student support, leading to increased intakes. This not only compromised the quality of education but also strained essential services such as housing and healthcare.
2. Integrity Threatened:
Minister Miller highlighted concerns about the integrity of the system, pointing out that some institutions had expanded their intakes without ensuring the necessary support structures for incoming students. This situation, if left unchecked, could jeopardize the academic success and overall well-being of international students.
1. Temporary Cap on Study Permits:
To address these challenges, the government is implementing a temporary cap on the number of international student permits issued. For 2024, the cap is set at approximately 360,000, representing a significant 35% decrease from the previous year. This reduction is part of a broader effort to ensure sustainable population growth and protect the integrity of the international student system.
2. Provincial and Territorial Caps:
Recognizing the varying degrees of growth across provinces and territories, individual caps have been established, weighted by population. This targeted approach aims to address unsustainable growth, with more substantial decreases expected in areas facing the most significant challenges.
3. Exemptions and Renewals:
The cap will not impact current study permit holders or renewals. Additionally, exemptions are made for those pursuing master’s and doctoral degrees, along with elementary and secondary education. This ensures that the measures do not hinder the academic pursuits of those already within the system.
4. Attestation Letters:
A noteworthy addition to the application process is the requirement for an attestation letter from the province or territory. This letter serves as an additional layer of assurance, ensuring that incoming international students have the necessary supports in place. Provinces and territories are expected to establish processes for issuing these letters by March 31, 2024.
5. Two-Year Implementation:
These measures are temporary and will be in place for two years. The effectiveness of the cap and associated policies will be reassessed at the end of this period. During these two years, collaboration with provinces, territories, designated learning institutions, and education stakeholders will focus on creating a sustainable framework for the future.
Post-Graduation Work Permit Changes:
1. Curriculum Licensing Arrangement Exclusion:
Starting September 1, 2024, international students enrolled in programs under curriculum licensing arrangements will no longer be eligible for post-graduation work permits. This change addresses concerns about oversight and ensures that the eligibility criteria are consistent across different types of educational institutions.
2. Extended Work Permits for Master’s Graduates:
Acknowledging the potential of master’s graduates, the government is introducing a positive change in the eligibility criteria. Graduates of master’s and other short graduate-level programs will soon be eligible to apply for a 3-year work permit. This move aims to provide these graduates with sufficient time to gain valuable work experience and potentially transition to permanent residence.
3. Limited Open Work Permits for Spouses:
Open work permits for spouses of international students will now be limited to those accompanying students pursuing master’s and doctoral programs. This targeted approach aligns with the government’s commitment to providing support to higher education levels.
Quick Facts and Future Initiatives:
1. Pathways to Permanent Residence:
The government is committed to providing clear pathways to permanent residence for students with in-demand skills. Ongoing efforts will explore new measures to facilitate a smoother transition for international students into the labor force.
2. Cost-of-Living Requirement Update:
As of January 1, 2024, the cost-of-living requirement for study permit applicants has been updated. This adjustment aims to better reflect the true cost of living in Canada, preventing student vulnerability and exploitation.
For 2024, a single applicant needs to show they have $20,635, representing 75% of LICO, in addition to their first year of tuition and travel expenses. This change was implemented for all new study permit applications received on or after January 1, 2024.
3. Enhanced Verification Process:
Since December 1, 2023, post-secondary designated learning institutions have been required to confirm every letter of acceptance submitted by an applicant outside Canada directly with IRCC. This enhanced verification process safeguards against fraud and ensures that study permits are issued based only on genuine letters of acceptance.
4. Targeted Pilots for Underrepresented Cohorts:
In 2024, the government plans to implement targeted pilots aimed at helping underrepresented cohorts of international students pursue their studies in Canada. These initiatives seek to promote inclusivity and diversity within the international student community.
If you are an international student, considering studying in Canada, or seeking guidance on navigating the recent policy changes, Titan Law is your trusted partner. Our team of immigration experts and lawyers is committed to providing personalized, professional assistance.
Book a consultation with Titan Law today to ensure that you are well informed and supported on your journey. Our experts will guide you through the implications of the recent changes, answer your questions, and help you make informed decisions about your international education and immigration plans.
No, the cap will not impact current study permit holders or those pursuing advanced degrees. Exemptions have been made to safeguard the academic pursuits of these students.
Caps will be weighted by population, addressing variations in international student growth. Provinces and territories will implement attestation letters for study permit applications by March 31, 2024.
Starting September 1, 2024, international students in curriculum licensing arrangements will no longer be eligible for PGWP. Additionally, master’s graduates can soon apply for a 3-year work permit.
The temporary measures are set for two years. The government will reassess the cap and associated policies at the end of this period.
As of January 1, 2024, the cost-of-living requirement has been updated to better reflect the true cost of living in Canada, preventing student vulnerability and exploitation.