In a significant move, the Canadian government, led by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, announced on Monday a 35% reduction in international student admissions for 2024. This decision, a response to the country’s severe housing crisis, will see the number of approved study permits fall to 360,000, a sharp decrease from the 2023 levels.
Canadian Immigration Minister Marc Miller stated, “Ahead of the September 2024 semester, we are prepared to take necessary measures, including limiting visas, to ensure designated learning institutions provide adequate and sufficient student support as part of the academic experience.”
Temporary Policy with Exemptions
The policy, which caps the number of international students, is temporary and will be in place for two years. It will not affect current study permit holders or renewals. Moreover, students pursuing master’s and doctoral degrees are exempt from this cap.
Implementation of the Cap
The cap will be applied based on provincial quotas, with each province assigned a cap based on its accommodation and housing capacity. The provinces will then distribute the allocated number of international student admissions among various institutions.
As a new documentation requirement, student permit applications must now include an attestation letter from a Canadian province or territory. This letter confirms the province’s capacity to accommodate the proposed student. This requirement is effective from January 22nd, 2024, and provinces have until March 31st, 2024, to establish a mechanism for issuing the required attestation document.
Changes to Graduate Programs and Work Permits
While most changes do not apply to graduate, professional, and doctoral programs, there are some noteworthy modifications. International students admitted under a curriculum licensing arrangement will no longer be eligible for the Post-Graduate Work Permit.
Furthermore, open work permits will now only be available to spouses of international students enrolled in master’s or doctoral programs. Spouses of undergraduate and college students will no longer be eligible.
Increased Cost-of-Living Requirement
In December, the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) doubled the cost-of-living requirement for international students from CAD 10,000 to CAD 20,635. Citing rising inflation and financial challenges faced by many international students, the government claims this change aims to ensure students are better prepared for the actual cost of living in Canada.
The Canadian government has declared plans to reassess the cap in 2025. As the world watches, the impact of these changes on Canada’s international student community remains to be seen.