Canada limiting international student permits

Published at : 23 January 2024, 08:01 pm
Canada limiting international student permits
Photo: Collected

In a move that marks a significant shift in its immigration policy, the Canadian government has announced a plan to limit the number of international student permits over the next two years. This decision, as reported by CBC, comes amidst growing concerns over housing availability and the operations of certain private colleges in the country.

The federal government plans to approve approximately 360,000 undergraduate study permits for 2024, which is a 35% reduction compared to the numbers from 2023. This cap will be distributed across Canadian provinces and territories based on population, leading to potentially sharper decreases in regions where the growth of the international student population has been deemed unsustainable.

Canada’s Immigration Minister Marc Miller highlighted that in some provinces, the reduction in permits might reach around 50 percent. Provinces and territories will have the autonomy to decide the allocation of permits among their universities and colleges. This cap is set to remain for two years, with a reassessment planned for the end of this year regarding the number of permits to be issued in 2025.

The immigration minister expressed concerns about the practices of some small private colleges, criticizing their exploitation of international students. He accused these institutions of operating under-resourced campuses, lacking adequate student support, while charging high tuition fees and substantially increasing their intake of international students. In a detailed interview with the CBC, Miller spoke about institutions offering dubious business degrees, with possibly hundreds of such schools operating in Canada, a number that has surged in recent years.

Alongside the permit cap, the Canadian government announced significant changes to the post-graduation work permit program. Starting September, international students enrolled in programs under curriculum licensing arrangements with private colleges will no longer be eligible for post-graduation work permits. Conversely, graduates from master’s and other short graduate-level programs will soon be able to apply for a three-year work permit. Spouses of international students in master’s and doctoral programs will also be eligible for open work permits.

The housing crisis in Canada, exacerbated by the influx of international students, played a critical role in this policy change. Mike Moffatt, an assistant professor at the Ivey Business School at Western University and a senior director at the Smart Prosperity Institute, emphasized the urgent need for such measures. He pointed out the substantial impact of international students on housing markets in various cities, with low-income renters struggling for limited rental spots and investors buying single-family homes for student rentals, which hinders first-time home buyers.

Recent polls indicate increasing public concern about the influence of immigration levels on the housing situation in Canada. This policy shift by the federal government reflects an attempt to address these multifaceted issues, balancing the needs of the education sector, international students, and the broader Canadian community.