In a recent update, Immigration, Citizenship, and Refugees Canada (IRCC) has implemented significant revisions to key requirements and policies for international students. Effective January 1, 2024, the cost-of-living requirement for study permit applicants will increase to CAN 20,635, up from the current CAN 10,000 for a single applicant. This adjustment aims to ensure that students arrive in Canada with sufficient funds to cover their living expenses.
Impact on Study Permit Applicants
The increased cost-of-living threshold will be applied to the Student Direct Stream, a specialized study permit application process available to residents of specific countries. Applicants must prove their financial capacity through various means, excluding tuition and travel costs. While this change seeks to align with the current cost of living, it may potentially limit the number of individuals qualifying for a study permit in Canada.
Extended Policies for International Students
Off-Campus Work Authorization
Simultaneously, IRCC has extended certain temporary policies for international students. The policy allowing eligible students to work off-campus for more than 20 hours has been extended until April 30, 2024. This extension provides flexibility and helps address labor shortages by allowing students to contribute more substantially to the Canadian workforce.
PGWP Duration Extension
Additionally, the policy allowing international students to retain the duration of their Post-Graduate Work Permit (PGWP) despite studying outside of Canada has been extended until September 1, 2024. Originally implemented due to pandemic-related travel restrictions, this measure continues to benefit students who may need to be outside Canada for parts of their study program.
Conclusion of the 18-Month Permit Extension
Conversely, the policy granting an 18-month permit extension for PGWP holders, allowing eligible foreign nationals to apply for an open work permit extension, will end on December 31, 2023, as initially intended. This development underscores the need for foreign nationals to explore alternative pathways for remaining and working in Canada after their PGWP expires.
Navigating the Complex Landscape
These measures reflect IRCC’s ongoing efforts to navigate the complex landscape of international student immigration. The goal is to balance the attractiveness of Canada as a global education destination with the imperative of addressing domestic labor market needs.
Looking ahead, IRCC intends to annually adjust the cost-of-living threshold in line with Statistics Canada’s low-income cut-off, ensuring it remains in step with economic realities. Additionally, targeted pilot programs are set to be introduced in 2024, facilitating international students in pursuing their studies in Canada.