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Changes to International Student Program aim to protect students


Effective January 1, 2024, international students aspiring to study in Canada will face heightened financial requirements, as the government mandates a demonstration of $20,635 in funds in addition to the first-year tuition and travel costs for study permit approval.

This substantial increase from the previous requirement of $10,000 is part of the government’s broader initiative to combat exploitation within the international student program and ensure a more accurate reflection of the true cost of living in Canada.

The policy shift also extends the allowance for international students to work off-campus for more than 20 hours per week until April 30, 2024, with considerations for a permanent increase to 30 hours per week. However, the immigration minister has ruled out the possibility of allowing students to work full-time permanently, despite calls from student groups.

These measures come in response to the government’s efforts to address concerns of “exploitation” in the international student program, emphasizing the need for institutions to provide comprehensive support to students, including proper housing, health assistance, and an enriching academic experience. Failure to meet these standards may result in visa limitations imposed on institutions.

Immigration Minister Marc Miller highlighted the rationale behind the increased financial threshold, stating it aims to prevent students from realizing insufficient funds upon arrival, fostering their success in Canada. The revised cost-of-living threshold applies to new study permit applications received on or after January 1, 2024.

The Canadian government is determined to tackle challenges in the international education sector and has extended uncapped work rights policies until April 30, 2024, with a potential permanent increase to 30 hours per week under consideration. However, the emphasis remains on protecting international students from financial vulnerabilities and exploitation.

In a crackdown on fraudulent practices, the government has previously announced changes to the verification process for admission letters. Immigration Canada also provided updates on three temporary policies affecting international students, including the extension of the waiver on the 20-hour-per-week work limit and the continuation of facilitative measures for online study towards post-graduation work permits for eligible students.

Minister Miller warned institutions about housing crises, urging them to accept international students only if adequate accommodation is available. He emphasized the government’s expectation of providing proper health support and a quality academic experience.

The government’s commitment to addressing these issues is underscored by the threat of visa limitations if institutions and local governments fail to meet the specified standards by September 2024. Minister Miller affirmed their readiness to take necessary measures, including potentially limiting visas, to ensure adequate and sufficient support for international students.

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