Canada has unveiled a trio of significant measures impacting international students.
These measures, unveiled by the Canadian immigration minister, Marc Miller, include a two-year cap on new international student permits, changes to eligibility criteria, and a reshaping of work permit availability.
For the years 2024 and 2025, Canada will enforce a national application intake cap, limiting approved study permits to approximately 364,000—a notable 35% reduction from the previous year.
This cap will be distributed among provinces based on population, signaling varying degrees of impact across the nation. Collaborative efforts with provinces like British Columbia and Ontario have already commenced to ensure fair distribution at the institutional level.
Effective September 1st, 2024, international students embarking on licensed study programs will no longer qualify for a work permit. Exceptions will be granted to those attending public institutions.
The move aims to address concerns about unmonitored increases in student numbers, particularly at private institutions, and will affect postgraduate work permits at private institution models starting this year.
In a further move to refine the system, open work permits will now exclusively be available to spouses of international students enrolled in masters, doctoral, and professional programs like medicine and law.
This change eliminates eligibility for spouses of those enrolled in undergraduate and college programs. Notably, these measures will not impact applicants already within Canada seeking program extensions.
These temporary measures, in effect for two years, are designed to safeguard Canada’s education system from abuse and ensure that incoming international students receive the promised quality education.
Officials emphasize that these steps are not directed against individual students but are crucial to maintaining the credibility of institutions and preserving the positive experiences that draw students to Canada.
The government is committed to ongoing discussions with provinces and institutions to initiate further reforms and ensure the sustainability of the system. The determination of sustainable levels will involve collaboration with institutions, provided they can offer adequate housing.
As Canada takes these bold steps, the focus remains on nurturing a system that not only welcomes international students but also ensures they receive the resources needed to succeed, preventing disillusionment and disappointment.
These measures mark a decisive effort by Canada to strike a balance between openness to international students and the responsibility to maintain program quality, setting the stage for a more robust and sustainable future for its education system.