In an effort to preserve the integrity of Canada’s international student system and ensure the well-being of incoming students, Marc Miller, Minister of Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship, declared today that the government will implement a cap on international student permit applications. The move comes in response to concerns about the surge in student numbers, strained resources, and potential exploitation of the system.
The new measures, effective immediately, are designed to stabilize the growth of international students for a two-year period. Minister Miller outlined that the cap for 2024 is set at approximately 360,000 approved study permits, reflecting a 35% reduction from the previous year. Provincial and territorial caps, weighted by population, have been established to ensure fairness, with more significant decreases in areas experiencing unsustainable growth.
Notably, renewals of study permits, pursuit of master’s and doctoral degrees, and elementary and secondary education are excluded from the cap. Current study permit holders will remain unaffected.
To enforce the cap, a portion will be allocated to each province and territory, distributed among their designated learning institutions. Additionally, starting January 22, 2024, all study permit applications submitted to the Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) will require an attestation letter from the relevant province or territory. The provinces and territories are expected to establish the attestation letter issuance process by March 31, 2024.
Minister Miller emphasized that these temporary measures will be re-evaluated at the end of the two-year period, taking into account collaboration with provinces, territories, learning institutions, and national education stakeholders. The goal is to develop a sustainable path forward for international students, including finalizing a recognized institution framework, determining long-term sustainable levels, and ensuring adequate student housing.
In alignment with these changes, adjustments to the eligibility criteria for the Post-Graduation Work Permit Program have been introduced. Notably, students in curriculum licensing arrangements will no longer be eligible for post-graduation work permits, effective September 1, 2024. Furthermore, graduates of master’s and other short graduate-level programs will now be eligible for a 3-year work permit, addressing the previous limitation based solely on the length of study programs.
Minister Marc Miller underscored the importance of these measures in maintaining the integrity of the international student system. The reforms aim to support genuine students while stabilizing overall student numbers, alleviating pressures on housing, healthcare, and other essential services in Canada.