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### Impact of Canada’s Limit on Fresh Student Visas

In a potential setback for Indian students seeking a Canadian education, Canada has unveiled plans to address the housing shortage crisis resulting from a surge in immigrant numbers in recent years.

The majority of international students in Canada, approximately 40%, hail from India, followed by China at around 12%, based on official 2022 data. The issuance of study permits in Canada has nearly tripled in the past decade, with almost 1 million permits issued last year. The new proposal aims to reduce this intake by approximately one-third.

Under the new regulations announced by Canada’s immigration minister, Marc Miller, a temporary two-year cap on student visas will be implemented, leading to an estimated issuance of 364,000 visas in 2024, marking a 35% decrease from the previous year’s issuance of nearly 560,000 visas. Additionally, restrictions will be placed on post-graduate work permits for foreign students, potentially prompting them to return to their home countries. Previously viewed as a pathway to permanent residency, these permits will now have limitations. However, individuals pursuing advanced programs like master’s or post-doctorate studies will be eligible for a three-year work permit.

Moreover, spouses of international students enrolled in programs below the post-graduate level will no longer qualify for permits, as per Miller. The acceptance of new study permit applications in 2025 will be reevaluated by the year’s end.

The surge in international student enrollment in Canada has led to a housing crisis, resulting in a 7.7% nationwide rent increase from the previous year, as reported by Statscan. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s popularity has suffered due to the affordability issue, with opposition leader Pierre Poilievre gaining momentum in opinion polls ahead of the upcoming election. Concerns about the quality of education at certain institutions have also been raised by the government.

The impact of these changes on Canada’s economy is significant, as international students contribute approximately C\(22 billion (\)16.4 billion) annually. Educational institutions that expanded their facilities anticipating a continuous influx of students will be adversely affected. Ontario, the province with the highest population, receives the largest share of international students. The labour market, particularly in sectors like restaurants and retail, is expected to face shortages due to the cap on foreign students.

Canadian banks, which benefited from the requirement for international students to hold Guaranteed Investment Certificates (GIC) exceeding C$20,000, will also feel the effects of the policy shift. The University of Toronto expressed readiness to collaborate with government entities to address permit allocations and institutional challenges.

(Information sourced from Reuters)