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IRCC announces cap on admissions for international students

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has announced that is implanting a temporary cap on the number of international students who are issued study visas.

A release from IRCC shows that for 2024, the cap is "expected to result in approximately 360,000 approved study permits, a decrease of 35% from 2023."

Further, IRCC is introducing caps for each province and territory. The department says the caps will be weighted by population, and will result in significant decreases in provinces where the international student population has seen the most unsustainable growth.

The caps will not impact current study permit holders or study permit renewals and do not include those pursing masters and doctoral degrees.

IRCC says that as of today, January 22  2024, every study permit application submitted to IRCC will also require an attestation letter from a province or territory (PT). PTs are expected to establish a process for issuing these letters no later than March 31, 2024.

The department says it will reassess the cap in 2025.

Changes to eligibility criteria for Post Graduation Work Permits

IRCC has also announced changes to the eligibility criteria of the Post Graduation Work Permit (PGWP).

Starting September 2024, international students starting a study program that is part of a curriculum licensing arrangement will no longer be eligible for the PGWP.

IRCC has explained that under curriculum licensing agreements, students physically attend a private college that has been licensed to teach the curriculum of an associated public college. Although these programs have attracted international students in recent years, they have less oversight than public colleges and therefore are a loophole to eligibility for the PGWP.

IRCC has also announced that international students who have graduated from masters programs or other short graduate level programs will be able to apply for a 3-year work permit.

Under the current criteria, the length of a PGWP is based on the length of the individuals study program. This criteria materially limits masters students as it shortens the amount of time they are eligible to gain Canadian work experience and eventually transition to permanent residency.

In the upcoming weeks, the department will also release more details regarding open work permits for the spouses of international students. IRCC says that open work permits will only be available to spouses of international students in master’s and doctoral programs.

The spouses of international students in other levels of study, including undergraduate and college programs, will no longer be eligible.

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