In the latest news, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has announced a temporary cap on international student study visas for 2 years. IRCC is introducing caps for each province and territory, weighing them by population. Notably, these caps will not affect current study permit holders, renewals, or those pursuing master’s and doctoral degrees.
Here’s a comprehensive overview of the key changes and their implications.
Cap on International Students: What You Need to Know?
IRCC has decided to implement a temporary cap on international student study visas for 2024, projecting around 360,000 approved study permits. This marks a substantial 35% decrease from the preceding year, reflecting a purposeful effort to tackle challenges posed by the burgeoning international student population.
This cap is not uniform; instead, IRCC is introducing caps for each province and territory, taking population into account. Provinces witnessing unsustainable growth in their international student populations will experience significant decreases.
In the upcoming weeks, IRCC also plans to release details regarding open work permits for spouses of international students in master’s and doctoral programs. Unfortunately, spouses of international students in other study levels, including undergraduate and college programs, will no longer be eligible for these permits.
Attestation Letter Requirement
Additionally, effective January 22, 2024, every study permit application submitted to IRCC will necessitate an attestation letter from a province or territory (PT). PTs are expected to establish the issuance process for these letters by March 31, 2024. Moreover, IRCC plans to reassess the cap in 2025.
Changes to Post Graduation Work Permits (PGWP)
IRCC is implementing key changes to the eligibility criteria for PGWPs, effective September 2024.
- Curriculum Licensing Arrangement: Students starting a study program under a curriculum licensing arrangement will no longer be eligible for PGWP. IRCC emphasizes the need to address potential loopholes in eligibility, as these programs, though popular, often lack the oversight applied to public colleges.
- Extended Work Permit for Graduates: Graduates of master’s and other short graduate-level programs will be eligible to apply for a 3-year work permit. This change aims to provide extended opportunities for gaining valuable Canadian work experience, particularly benefiting those aspiring for permanent residency.
A Closer Look at the Challenges Addressed by the System
IRCC’s decision to implement a cap stems from concerns raised by Immigration Minister Marc Miller regarding the challenges posed by the sheer volume of international students. Some institutions have faced criticism for admitting students without adequate support, impacting the overall integrity of the education system. In short, some institutions significantly increased intakes, leading to concerns about the quality of education provided. IRCC also highlights the strain on housing, healthcare, and other services due to rapid increases in international student numbers.
Looking Ahead: Changes and Measures
Minister Marc Miller anticipates necessary measures to ensure designated learning institutions (DLIs) offer robust student support. The permissive DLI structure has prompted discussions around the need for a more rigorous approach to maintaining educational standards.
In December, IRCC doubled the cost-of-living requirement for international students, enhancing their preparedness for the actual cost of living in Canada. Additionally, IRCC plans to implement a Trusted Framework Agreement with DLIs, offering expedited processing for study permits, expected to be in place for the 2024 academic season.
As these changes unfold, prospective international students in Canada, educational institutions, and stakeholders must stay informed and adapt to the evolving landscape. IRCC’s measures aim to strike a balance between continued support for international students and ensuring the overall integrity and sustainability of Canada’s education system.