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Canadian Government Introduces Measures to Stabilize International Student Intake and Enhance Program Integrity

Ottawa, January 22, 2024 — Today, the Honourable Marc Miller, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, announced significant measures to safeguard the integrity of Canada's international student system and address the challenges posed by unsustainable growth. Recognizing the invaluable contributions of international students to the social, cultural, and economic fabric of Canada, the government is taking steps to protect both students and the nation's resources.

Intake Cap and Provincial Allocations

To address concerns about the exponential growth of international students and its impact on housing, healthcare, and other services, the Government of Canada will implement a two-year intake cap on international student permit applications. The cap, effective for 2024, is set at approximately 360,000 approved study permits, reflecting a 35% decrease from 2023. Provinces and territories will receive individual caps, proportionate to their populations, with a focus on curbing unsustainable growth in regions facing the most significant challenges.

These measures aim to create a fair and sustainable system, and renewals, master's and doctoral degree seekers, and elementary/secondary education students remain exempt from the cap. Current study permit holders are unaffected.

Implementation and Attestation Requirement

To enforce the cap, as of January 22, 2024, every study permit application must include an attestation letter from the respective province or territory. Provinces and territories are expected to establish a process for issuing attestation letters to students by March 31, 2024. These temporary measures will undergo a reassessment in 2025, with ongoing collaboration between the federal government, provinces, territories, and education stakeholders to develop a sustainable path for international students.

Post-Graduation Work Permit Program Changes

In an effort to align the Post-Graduation Work Permit Program with program integrity goals, eligibility criteria will change starting September 1, 2024. Students enrolled in study programs under curriculum licensing arrangements will no longer qualify for post-graduation work permits, closing a loophole in oversight. Additionally, graduates of master's and other short graduate-level programs will now be eligible for a 3-year work permit, offering greater opportunities for gaining work experience and transitioning to permanent residence.

Open Work Permits for Spouses

In the coming weeks, open work permits will be restricted to spouses of international students in master's and doctoral programs, while spouses of students in other levels of study will no longer be eligible.

Minister Marc Miller's Statement

Minister Marc Miller emphasized the importance of protecting the international student system from abuse and ensuring a balanced approach that upholds the integrity of Canada's immigration system. The measures announced today are aimed at striking this balance, creating an environment where genuine students can thrive while addressing the challenges posed by unsustainable growth.

Additional Reforms and Future Initiatives

The government continues to work on providing clear pathways to permanent residence for students with in-demand skills and plans to introduce targeted pilots in 2024 to assist underrepresented cohorts of international students. Recent measures, such as updating the cost-of-living requirement for study permit applicants and enhancing verification processes for acceptance letters, reflect a commitment to improving the International Student Program for incoming students and the country as a whole.

As the government takes decisive action to protect the international student system, these measures underscore the commitment to ensuring that international students have a positive and enriching academic experience in Canada, while safeguarding the nation's resources for the benefit of all. Source:

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