International students play a vital role in enhancing Canada’s communities and are integral to its social, cultural, and economic fabric, contributing to the diverse landscape of Canada immigration. Recent challenges to the integrity of the international student system, such as institutions increasing enrollments for financial gain, have raised concerns about Canada student visa processes. This surge in international students, while beneficial, has strained housing, healthcare, and other services, highlighting the importance of affordable living in Canada for students.

 

To safeguard the well-being of international students and ensure sustainable population growth, the Government of Canada, led by Minister Marc Miller, is implementing measures to stabilize their numbers and address Canada open work permit policies.

Enforced Two-Year Cap on International Student Permit Applications

Minister Miller announced today that the government will enforce a two-year cap on international student permit applications, aiming for a 35% reduction in approved study permits for 2024 to manage the cost of living in Canada for students. Individual provincial and territorial caps, weighted by population, will result in more significant decreases in regions experiencing unsustainable growth. The cap will not affect study permit renewals, and those pursuing master’s, doctoral, elementary, and secondary education are exempt. Current study permit holders are also unaffected.

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Implementation of the Cap – Quotas and Attestation Letters

To implement the cap, the Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) will allocate quotas to provinces and territories, distributed among their designated learning institutions, streamlining Canada immigration procedures. Effective January 22, 2024, each study permit application submitted to IRCC must include an attestation letter from a province or territory, further ensuring the affordability of living in Canada. Provinces and territories are expected to establish attestation letter issuance processes by March 31, 2024.

 

These temporary measures will be in effect for two years, with a reassessment of new study permit applications for 2025 at the year-end. During this period, the Government of Canada will collaborate with provinces, territories, designated learning institutions, and education stakeholders to develop a sustainable path forward for international students. This includes finalizing a recognized institution framework, determining long-term sustainable international student levels, and ensuring adequate student housing at post-secondary institutions.

Changes to Post-Graduation Work Permit Program

In alignment with these changes, starting September 1, 2024, adjustments to the eligibility criteria for the Post-Graduation Work Permit Program will be implemented, providing additional opportunities for Canada open work permits. Notably, international students in curriculum licensing arrangements will no longer be eligible, while master’s graduates will be eligible for a 3-year work permit, addressing the limitation based on study program length. Open work permits will be restricted to spouses of international students in master’s and doctoral programs, excluding other levels of study.

 

These measures complement recent reforms to the International Student Program and collectively aim to support genuine students, provide resources for an enriching study experience, and stabilize overall student numbers, thereby alleviating pressures on housing, healthcare, and other services in Canada.

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