Canada's International Student Program

Strengthening Integrity in Canada’s International Student Program

In a bid to fortify and uphold the integrity of Canada’s international student program, Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has initiated a series of measures, marking the inception of a comprehensive plan.

Verifying Letters of Acceptance (LOAs) through the Online Portal

A pivotal step in this plan involves the introduction of an online portal for Designated Learning Institutions (DLIs), the exclusive establishments authorized to admit international students. DLIs are now mandated to authenticate the LOAs submitted by international students in support of their student visa applications. This verification process is facilitated through a secure online portal accessible only to the designated representative(s) communicating with IRCC.

Under the revamped framework, DLIs are obligated to validate the LOAs within a stringent timeframe of 10 calendar days. Failure to comply with this timeframe, or the discovery of a fraudulent letter, results in the cancellation of the student visa application. Any fees paid for processing costs are refunded alongside the canceled application. It is noteworthy that DLIs lose access to verify LOAs once the stipulated deadline elapses.

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These measures respond to past abuses within Canada’s international student systems, including a high-profile case last year involving the potential deportation of 700 Indian students deceived by fabricated acceptance letters from a fraudulent immigration consultant.

The Trusted Institutions Framework

In tandem with these developments, IRCC has proposed a forward-looking framework for DLIs, known as the “Trusted Institutions Framework.” This innovative policy introduces a two-tiered system for issuing study permits, promising efficiency in processing times.

The institutions identified within this framework stand to gain various advantages, including expedited study permit processing. Although specific details about the functioning of this framework are currently limited, it is slated for implementation in the fall of 2024. IRCC has consistently emphasized its commitment to safeguarding the integrity of the international student program, even considering potential restrictions on student visas to ensure DLIs adequately support international students in their academic pursuits.

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Anticipated Changes in 2024

The year 2024 is poised to be transformative for Canada’s international student program, with several crucial alterations scheduled throughout the year.

Key developments include:

  • Cost-of-Living Requirement Increase: IRCC plans to raise the cost-of-living requirement for students by an additional CAD 10,000.
  • Reevaluation of Work Cap: The 20-hour work cap for international students is under reconsideration.

Changes to Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP):

The facilitative measure allowing international students to count time spent abroad towards their PGWP will be discontinued.

New changes to the PGWP program are on the horizon.

Additionally, IRCC expresses its intent to establish a more direct connection between international student enrollment, PGWP issuance, and the labor market’s demographic needs. The year 2024 is poised to usher in substantial changes as Canada grapples with accommodating nearly one million international students in the upcoming year.

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