The Canadian government has announced a two-year cap on the number of study permits issued to international students in an effort to stabilize growth and relieve pressure on housing and services.
Why is Canada Capping International Student Visas?
Over the past decade, Canada has seen a massive influx of international students. Numbers have more than doubled from 336,000 in 2015 to over 800,000 in 2022. This rapid growth has caused issues:
- Housing Shortages: Many cities are facing low rental vacancy rates and skyrocketing rents, leaving some students homeless or living in poor conditions.
- Skewed Incentives: There is evidence that some private colleges take advantage of students by providing a poor education while charging high tuition.
- Service Pressures: Health care and other public services are strained with the high intake of students.
To relieve these pressures and stabilize growth, Immigration Minister Marc Miller announced a 35% reduction in new study permits over the next two years.
What Do The New Rules Mean?
The cap will reduce new study permits from 560,000 in 2023 to approximately 360,000 in 2024 – a decrease of 200,000.
Key aspects include:
- Provincial Caps: Each province/territory is allotted a share of the 360,000 cap based on population. Actual reductions range from 35-50% depending on the jurisdiction.
- Exemptions: Renewals, elementary/secondary school permits, PhD and Master’s students are exempt.
- Private College Ban: New permits will not be issued for students attending private institutions.
- Proof of Funds: Students must prove they have sufficient funds for tuition and living expenses.
- Work Permit Changes: Open work permits restricted except for spouses of Master’s/PhD students.
The government states these measures target “institutional bad actors” while supporting sustainable growth in the future.
What Does This Mean For Students?
The cap aims to stabilize growth, not reduce overall international student numbers. Canada remains committed to welcoming international students, just at more sustainable levels.
If you’re considering studying in Canada, experts recommend having a strong application with proof of funds for the full duration of your studies. Focus on quality public institutions and programs not covered by the cap, like graduate degrees.
The work permit changes mean you may need to prove sufficient funds instead of relying on part-time work. Alternatively, see if you qualify for co-op and internship programs that facilitate gaining Canadian work experience.
Will This Affect Immigration Programs?
The student visa cap aims to stabilize growth rates and relieve pressure on housing/services. It does not directly impact Canada’s immigration programs or intake targets.In fact, Canada plans to welcome over 1.45 million new immigrants over the next three years, including 431,000 in 2023. Programs like Express Entry continue to invite candidates to apply for permanent residence.
International graduates remain crucial candidates for immigration. Those with Canadian degrees and work experience have a clear pathway to permanent status through Express Entry.While growth rates may stabilize, Canada continues to offer excellent education pathways for those seeking immigration.