OTTAWA – In what could dent a blow to aspiring international students, Canada has unveiled a comprehensive plan to regulate the entry of international students into the country.
According to the Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), the government is set to limit the entry of international students and the limit set for 2024 is expected to result in around 360,000 approved study permits, marking a 35% decline compared to the figures recorded in 2023 when it was around 900, 000.
This cap on international student numbers, a temporary policy lasting for two years, is part of Canada’s broader initiative to address the challenges posed by unsustainable growth in certain provinces.
The IRCC emphasizes that the established caps will be calculated based on population distribution, ensuring significant reductions where international student populations have seen the most unsustainable growth.
Notably, these restrictions will not impact existing study permit holders or those seeking renewals, with exemptions also granted for individuals pursuing master’s and doctoral degrees.
In a bid to enhance oversight, the IRCC has mandated that every study permit application submitted to the agency must include an attestation letter from a province or territory.
Furthermore, the cap is slated for reassessment in 2025 to ensure ongoing effectiveness.
Post-Graduation Work Permit Program
Besides the international student visas, the government has also unveiled changes related to Post-Graduation Work Permit Program under which the following would take place:
- Starting September 1, 2024, international students who begin a study program that is part of a curriculum licensing arrangement will no longer be eligible for a postgraduation work permit upon graduation. Under curriculum licensing agreements, students physically attend a private college that has been licensed to deliver the curriculum of an associated public college. These programs have seen significant growth in attracting international students in recent years, though they have less oversight than public colleges and they act as a loophole with regards to post-graduation work permit eligibility.
- Graduates of master’s and other short graduate-level programs will soon be eligible to apply for a 3-year work permit. Under current criteria, the length of a postgraduation work permit is based solely on the length of an individual’s study program, hindering master’s graduates by limiting the amount of time they have to gain work experience and potentially transition to permanent residence.
The authorities have also clarified that in the weeks ahead, open work permits will only be available to spouses of international students in master’s and doctoral programs. The spouses of international students in other levels of study, including undergraduate and college programs, will no longer be eligible.
Canada, having hosted over 800,000 international students in 2022, anticipates a potential rise to over 900,000 in 2023, as per projections, prompting these proactive measures to ensure sustainable growth and effective management of international student admissions.