Canada announces 2-year cap on student visas; to end open work permits for spouses of international students amid housing crunch

Monday, January 22, 2024
 – Canada has announced that the federal government will place a cap on the number of student visas to be granted over the next two years with the goal of targeting institutional "bad actors" amid concern about the impact growing numbers of international students are having on the housing market.

Marc Miller, minister of immigration, refugees and citizenship, revealed on Monday, January 22 how the federal government plans to cap the number of international students in Canada.

In 2024, the Canadian federal government says it will approve 360,000 undergraduate study permits, with the aim of reducing the number by 35 per cent from 2023.

Each province and territory will be allotted a portion of the total, with permits distributed by population. Canada says this will result in "much more significant decreases in provinces where the international student population has seen the most unsustainable growth."

The new rule states that Provinces and territories will be left to decide how permits are distributed across universities and colleges in their jurisdiction. The cap will be in place for two years and the number of visas to be issued in 2025 will be reassessed at the end of this year.

"It's unacceptable that some private institutions have taken advantage of international students by operating under-resourced campuses, lacking supports for students and charging high tuition fees all the while significantly increasing their intake of international students," Miller said.

In addition to the cap, the federal government will also require international students applying for a permit to provide an attestation letter from a province or territory.

"To be absolutely clear, these measures are not against individual international students," Miller said.

"They are to ensure that as future students arrive in Canada, they receive the quality of education that they signed up for and the hope that they were provided in their home countries."

Miller said starting in September, international students who begin a program that is part of a curriculum licensing arrangement — where a private college has been licensed to deliver the curriculum of an associated public college — will no longer be eligible for a post-graduation work permit.

Graduates of master's and other "short graduate-level programs" will "soon" be able to apply for a three-year work permit. Open work permits will also only be made available to the spouses of international students in master's and doctoral programs.

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