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### Canada’s New Policy: Unveiling the Cap on International Students

has finally announced its long-awaited decision to impose restrictions on immigration to the country.

The Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has introduced a temporary limit on the issuance of study visas for international students. As per the latest information provided by IRCC, the cap for the year 2024 is projected to result in approximately 360,000 approved study permits, indicating a 35% reduction from the 2023 figures.

“International students play a crucial role in Canada and contribute to the diversity of our communities. It is our responsibility to ensure that they have access to the necessary resources for a rewarding academic journey. However, in today’s Canada, this access is not always guaranteed,” stated Marc Miller, the Minister of Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship.

“We are unveiling additional measures today to safeguard a system that has become susceptible to exploitation due to its profitability. We have reached a tipping point. With the decisive actions announced today, we are striking a balance that safeguards Canada’s interests and upholds the integrity of our immigration system while paving the way for students to achieve the success they aspire to,” added Minister Miller.

IRCC will be enforcing limits for each province and territory, tailored to their respective populations. This strategic step aims to address the unsustainable growth of the international student population in provinces experiencing a significant surge.

The imposed caps will not impact current study permit holders or those seeking permit extensions. Furthermore, individuals pursuing master’s and doctoral degrees are exempt from these restrictions. Starting January 22, 2024, all study permit applications submitted to IRCC must be accompanied by an attestation letter from the relevant province or territory (PT). PTs are expected to define the issuance process for these letters by March 31, 2024. IRCC has indicated its intent to review the cap in 2025.

Revisions to Post Graduation Work Permits

Apart from the study permit caps, IRCC has announced changes to the eligibility criteria for the Post Graduation Work Permit (PGWP). Beginning September 2024, international students enrolled in study programs under curriculum licensing agreements will no longer be eligible for the PGWP. This adjustment addresses concerns regarding oversight in private colleges compared to public institutions.

IRCC has also introduced a positive modification for graduates of master’s programs and other short graduate-level programs, enabling them to apply for a 3-year work permit. This change is significant as it resolves the limitation faced by master’s students under the current criteria, which ties the PGWP duration to the program’s length.

In the upcoming weeks, IRCC will provide further details on open work permits for the spouses of international students. Notably, these open work permits will be restricted to spouses of international students enrolled in master’s and doctoral programs, excluding those in other academic levels.

Upholding Integrity

The decision to implement these measures follows Minister Miller’s public discourse on the subject, expressing concerns about the system’s integrity. Minister Miller highlighted issues such as institutions admitting students without delivering the promised education and the strain on essential services due to the rapid influx of international students.

The recent IRCC announcement recognizes that certain institutions have significantly boosted their student enrollments for financial motives, resulting in students arriving without adequate support. The release underscores the pressure on housing, healthcare, and other services due to the surge in international student numbers.

Canada hosted over 800,000 international students in 2022, with projections suggesting a potential increase to over 900,000 in 2023. Minister Miller has stressed the necessity to regulate the system, citing worries about a lenient designated learning institution (DLI) framework and advocating for substantive dialogues between provincial governments and DLIs.

In December, IRCC implemented additional changes to the international student program, including doubling the cost-of-living requirement. Furthermore, a Trusted Framework Agreement with DLIs is anticipated to be operational for the 2024 academic year, ensuring expedited processing for study permits at eligible institutions.