This morning the Honourable Marc Miller announced an intake cap on international student permit applications for a period of two years. For 2024, the cap is expected to be 360,000 approved study permits, representing a decrease of 35% from 2023. In addition to the cap, the Immigration Minister also announced new restrictions on Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) eligibility to curtail the admissions of international students attending private colleges.
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) says these and other recently announced reforms (e.g., increasing the proof of financial support requirement) “aim to ensure genuine students receive the support they require and have the resources they need for an enriching study experience in Canada, while at the same time stabilizing the overall number of students arriving and alleviating pressures on housing, health care and other services in Canada.”
CILA wishes to use this opportunity to highlight other means to better protect international students and promote the integrity of our higher education and immigration systems:
- Federal and provincial governments must work together to identify how to fund our higher education system in a more sustainable fashion so that colleges and universities are not so reliant on international students to fund their operations.
- The federal government needs to set more realistic expectations to international students about the feasibility of obtaining permanent residence following graduation. The federal government, in concert with colleges, universities, and immigration consultants continue to tout Canada’s TR to PR pathways, when the reality is attaining PR is a very competitive process that is far from a foregone conclusion.
- IRCC may wish to consider increasing the English- and French-language proficiency requirements so that approved international students are better equipped to succeed in Canadian classrooms, the economy, and society.
- Re-introduce the Post-Graduation Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) to international graduates so that employers with genuine labour shortages can obtain work permits for international graduates with in-demand skills. This can also help such international graduates improve their odds of transitioning to PR.
- Better regulate the conduct of immigration consultants in Canada and overseas to deter them from engaging in unethical behavior or with unauthorized agents that exploit international students.
CILA acknowledges the significant growth in Canada’s international student population has created significant integrity challenges and believes it is incumbent on governments across Canada to do more to provide both Canadian and international students with a better experience. CILA hopes such efforts will lead to a more sustainable path forward for Canada’s international student program. International students enrich Canada in many ways and are key to our global competitiveness. As such, it is imperative Canada get its international student program back on track so we can sustain the economic and social benefits that international students bring for many decades to come.