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Canada implementing temporary 2-year cap on international students

The 2024 cap will result in 364,000 approved study permits—a decrease of 35% from 2023.

On January 22, the Canadian immigration minister announced new measures to curb the number of international students coming to Canada amid a nationwide housing crisis.

Immigration Minister Marc Miller made the announcement on January 22, saying the new measures would be:

  1. A 2-year temporary cap on international students at the undergraduate level.

  2. Starting January 22, 2024, international students will be required to submit a provincial attestation with their study permit application. The federal government expects the provinces and territories to establish a process for issuing attestation letters to students by no later than March 31, 2024.

  3. As of September 1, Post Graduation Work Permits (PGWP) will no longer be available to programs at institutions that are part of curriculum licensing arrangements. These programs have less oversight than public colleges and they act as a loophole with regards to post-graduation work permit eligibility, according to the government media release.

  4. Master’s graduates and graduates of other short graduate-level programs will soon be eligible to apply for a 3-year work permit. Under the current criteria, the length of a PGWP is based on the length of a student’s study program, which limits the amount of time these highly educated graduates have to gain work experience and potentially become permanent residents.

  5. In the coming weeks, Canada will be announcing that open work permits for spouses will only be available to international students in Masters and PhD programs as well as professional programs like medicine and law. Spouses of international students in other education levels will no longer be eligible for an open work permit.

The cap will not have an affect on study permit holders currently in Canada, including those looking to extend their studies.

The 2024 cap will result in 364,000 approved study permits, a decrease of about 35 percent from 2023. The cap for 2025 will be reassessed by the end of this year.

With the cap, the number of new international student arrivals to Canada will equal the number of students who visas expire. The effect will be that there will be no increase of international students in Canada.

The measures comes as Canadians grapple with affordability and housing availability. Between October 2022-2023, Canada’s population grew by 1.25 million. With a growth rate of 3.2 percent, the quickest since the 1950s. Most of that increase was from temporary residents, such as international students and temporary foreign workers.

The caps will be based on population by provinces. Therefore, some provinces will see much more significant reductions. Some provinces will be able to increase their international student intake while other provinces could see decreases. The minister said Ontario could experience a decrease of about 50 percent.

Last week, Canadian media were reporting that the federal government was planning to cap the number of students in Ontario, British Columbia, and Nova Scotia.

CBC‘s source is cited as being a ‘senior government source’ who suggested that Ontario, British Columbia, and Nova Scotia may be required to cap the number of international students.

No caps will be put on Masters and PhD students. Students in primary and secondary school will also be exempt from the cap.

“To be absolutely clear, these measures are not against individual international students,” Miller said at a press conference. “They are to ensure that as future students arrive in Canada, they receive the quality of education that they signed up for and the hope that they were provided in their home countries.”

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