Canada imposes 2-year cap on student visas, reducing new visas by 35%

To address housing concerns and target problematic institutions, Canada’s Immigration Minister, Marc Miller, has announced a cap on the number of student visas to be issued over the next two years while addressing a press conference in Ottawa on Monday. The cap will be effective for two years, with a reassessment planned for 2025.

This news comes weeks after the United Kingdom (UK) more stringent international visa norms for Indian students. Indian students this year would no longer be allowed to bring family members with them, except for postgraduate research courses and courses with government-funded scholarships. The UK home office estimates this will reduce immigration into the country by at 140,000 people, who use student visa as a backdoor route to work in the UK.

For 2024, the Canadian federal government aims to approve 360,000 undergraduate study permits, marking a 35 per cent reduction from 2023. This decision will significantly impact Indian students, who represent the largest group of international students in Canada, receiving over 41 per cent of permits in 2022. Additionally, around 300,000 Indian students went to Canada in 2023 alone.

Under the new system, provinces and territories will be allocated a portion of the total permits based on population, leading to more significant decreases in regions experiencing unsustainable growth in the international student population. Each region will have the flexibility to decide how permits are distributed across universities and colleges.

Private institutes taking advantage of international students

Minister Miller expressed concerns about certain private institutions taking advantage of international students by operating under-resourced campuses, lacking student support, charging high tuition fees, and significantly increasing their intake of international students.

In addition to the cap, the federal government will now require international students to provide an attestation letter from a province or territory when applying for a permit. Miller clarified that these measures are not against individual international students but are aimed at ensuring the quality of education for future students arriving in Canada.

Changes in work permit after graduation

Miller also announced changes to the post-graduation work permit programme. Starting in September, international students in programmes under a curriculum licensing arrangement will no longer be eligible for a post-graduation work permit. Graduates of master’s and other short graduate-level programmes will be able to apply for a three-year work permit. Open work permits will only be available to the spouses of international students in master’s and doctoral programmes. These measures follow previous announcements targeting what Miller referred to as “the diploma equivalent of puppy mills.”

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