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Canada to Implement a 2-year Cap on New International Student Permit

Canada’s government has announced a 2-year cap on new international student permit applications to stabilize the number of international students in Canada. Given the increasing pressure on housing, health care, and other services due to more international students arriving in Canada, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship (IRCC), Marc Miller announced on 22 January 2024 that Canada will be limiting the intake of international student permit applications to stabilize the number. 

Canada International Student Permit Application Intake Cap

Canada to Implement a 2-year Cap on New International Student Permit

In 2024, Canada anticipates approving only 360,000 International Student Study Permits, a 35% decrease from 2023 levels.

The following people are exempt from the cap:

  • Applicants for master’s and doctoral degrees
  • Existing holders of study permits
  • Applicants for student permit renewals
  • Those in elementary and secondary education

The government will reassess the cap for 2025 at the end of 2024.


Attestation Letters from Provinces or Territories will be required

IRCC will allocate a portion of the cap to each province and territory, which will then distribute the allocated quota among their designated learning institutions. It is currently estimated that the number of international students admitted to Ontario in 2024 will be significantly reduced by 50% compared with last year.

Starting from January 22, 2024, an attestation letter from a province or territory is mandatory for every student permit application submitted to IRCC.

Attestation Letters from Provinces or Territories will be required | IRCC 2024 updates on Student Permit

The IRCC website states that unless an exemption is granted, any application made on or after 22 January 2024, that fails to provide the attestation letter will be returned.

Provinces and territories are anticipated to develop a procedure for issuing attestation letters to students, with the deadline set for March 31, 2024.

In other words, until relevant procedures are established in each province, all student permit applicants who have not yet submitted their applications from today will be forced to suspend the study permit application process.

You may want to read:
How to Obtain a Provincial Attestation Ltter (PAL)? | Exemption Conditions


Amendment on Post-Graduation Work Permit Program

IRCC adjusts criteria for Post-Graduation Work Permit program:

  1. From September 1, 2024, international students who begin a study program that is part of a curriculum licensing arrangement will no longer be eligible for a post-graduation work permit upon program completion. (“Under curriculum licensing agreements, students physically attend a private college that has been licensed to deliver the curriculum of an associated public college.”)
  2. Graduates of master’s and other short graduate-level programs “ will soon be eligible” to apply for a 3-year work permit. The duration of their post-graduation work permit will no longer be affected by the length of their study program.


Updated Eligibility for Open Work Permits (OWP) Applications

IRCC also adjusted the application qualifications for the Open Work Permit (OWP):

“In the weeks ahead,” open work permits will be restricted to spouses of international students enrolled in master’s and doctoral programs, excluding spouses of students at other study levels.

In simpler terms, individuals intending to apply for an open work permit while their spouse is studying at the undergraduate and college levels will no longer have the option to apply for an OWP. This change will impact individuals whose spouses are undergoing immigration schemes like Stream A of the Hong Kong pathway.

If you are planning to apply for an Open Work Permit for Spouses (OWP) and your spouse is enrolled in a program that does not meet the specified qualifications, TWA recommends submitting your OWP application as early as possible before the implementation of the new regulations to enhance your chances of obtaining an Open Work Permit.

To err on the side of caution, you may even consider adjusting your immigration plan. Options include utilizing a “Flagpoling”, applying for a working holiday visa (IEC), participating in the Hong Kong Immigration Pathways Stream A/Stream B, or seeking provincial nomination to secure a work permit or permanent residency.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact TWA’s licensed immigration consultant as soon as possible.

These measures effectively address the misconduct of certain “bad actors,” including some small private colleges. Exploiting loopholes, these individuals establish under-resourced campuses that not only lack support for students but also impose exorbitant fees on international students, offering them what amounts to “fake business degrees.” Currently, there are likely hundreds of such schools in Canada, and they have experienced explosive growth over the past few years.

These measures also aim to ensure genuine students get the support and resources they need for a great study experience in Canada. These implementation also work to stabilize the number of students and ease pressures on housing, healthcare, and other services.

For additional information on Canada’s implementation of a 2-year cap on the issuance of new international student permits, please visit the IRCC website:
IRCC News Release on 22 Jan 2024


Reactions from Different Political Parties on the Policy

Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre criticized the federal government for not blame the matter of international students to other levels of government. He emphasized that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, as the one who granted the student permits, should take responsibility.

NDP’s Jenny Kwan also accused Trudeau of mismanagement, expressing concern that the new policy “might punish talented students who seek to build a better life.” . (ref: CBC News)

You may want to read:
IRCC 2024 New Cost-of-living Requirement for International Students in Canada

How will Canada’s new international student cap affect the country?

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