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Canada to stabilize growth and decrease number of new international student permits issued to approximately 360,000 for 2024

From: Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada

News release

January 22, 2024—Ottawa—International students enrich our communities and are a critical part of Canada’s social, cultural and economic fabric. In recent years, the integrity of the international student system has been threatened. Some institutions have significantly increased their intakes to drive revenues, and more students have been arriving in Canada without the proper supports they need to succeed. Rapid increases in the number of international students arriving in Canada also puts pressure on housing, health care and other services. As we work to better protect international students from bad actors and support sustainable population growth in Canada, the government is moving forward with measures to stabilize the number of international students in Canada.

The Honorable Marc Miller, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship announced today that the Government of Canada will set an intake cap on international student permit applications to stabilize new growth for a period of two years. For 2024, the cap is expected to result in approximately 360,000 approved study permits, a decrease of 35% from 2023. In the spirit of fairness, individual provincial and territorial caps have been established, weighted by population, which will result in much more significant decreases in provinces where the international student population has seen the most unsustainable growth. Study permit renewals will not be impacted. Those pursuing master’s and doctoral degrees, and elementary and secondary education are not included in the cap. Current study permit holders will not be affected.

IRCC will allocate a portion of the cap to each province and territory, who will then distribute the allocation among their designated learning institutions. To implement the cap, as of January 22, 2024, every study permit application submitted to IRCC will also require an attestation letter from a province or territory. Provinces and territories are expected to establish a process for issuing attestation letters to students by no later than March 31, 2024.

These temporary measures will be in place for two years, and the number of new study permit applications that will be accepted in 2025 will be re-assessed at the end of this year. During this period, the Government of Canada will continue to work with provinces and territories, designated learning institutions and national education stakeholders on developing a sustainable path forward for international students, including finalizing a recognized institution framework, determining long-term sustainable levels of international students and ensuring post-secondary institutions are able to provide adequate levels of student housing.

In order to better align the Post-Graduation Work Permit Program, we are changing the eligibility criteria:

  • Starting 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 graduation. Under curriculum licensing agreements, students physically attend a private college that has been licensed to deliver the curriculum of an associated public college. These programs have seen significant growth in attracting international students in recent years, though they have less oversight than public colleges and they act as a loophole with regards to post-graduation work permit eligibility.
  • Graduates of master’s degree programs will soon be eligible to apply for a 3-year work permit. Under current criteria, the length of a post­ graduation work permit is based solely on the length of an individual’s study program, hindering master’s graduates by limiting the amount of time they have to gain work experience and potentially transition to permanent residence.

In the weeks ahead, open work permits will only be available to spouses of international students in master’s and doctoral programs. The spouses of international students in other levels of study, including undergraduate and college programs, will no longer be eligible.

The important measures announced today complement other recently announced reforms to the International Student Program. Taken together, they 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.

Learn More about the new measures and what they mean for ASM’s international student community