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IRCC Implements Temporary Cap on International Student Admissions

Temporary Cap on International Students

Key Takeaways:

1. IRCC reduces study visa targets by 35% compared to 2023.

2. Individual caps apply to each province and territory. It results in significant decreases in provinces where the international student population has seen the most unsustainable growth.

3. International students who have graduated from master’s programs or other short graduate-level programs can now apply for a 3-year work permit, instead of depending on the length of the individual’s study program. 

4. The new measures will come into effect ahead of the September 2024 semester.

5. IRCC plans to reassess the cap in 2025.

In a significant policy shift, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) have announced a temporary cap on the number of study visas issued to international students. 

The move, aimed at addressing pressure on infrastructure and ensuring quality educational experiences, marks a 35% decrease from 2023 figures, with approximately 360,000 approved study permits expected this year.

Effective immediately, all study permit applications require an attestation letter from the relevant province or territory. These letters, to be issued by designated provincial and territorial bodies, will confirm that the student’s proposed study program aligns with local labor market needs and available resources.

For the records, there are over 1,000 Designated Learning Institutions in Canada. are allowed to admit international students for post-secondary education. There are 529 of them in Ontario alone. 

Changes to Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) Program

The cap also triggers Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) program changes. 

Starting September 2024, international students graduating from programs offered under curriculum licensing arrangements will no longer be eligible for the PGWP. This move addresses concerns about programs that may not provide adequate pathways to meaningful employment.

Furthermore, international students who have graduated from master’s programs or other short graduate-level programs can now apply for a 3-year work permit. Earlier students may apply for work permits based on the length of the individual’s study program. 

IRCC intends to reassess the cap in 2025, offering a window for potential adjustments based on evolving realities.

Scope of International Students in Canada

Studying in Canada offers international students a dynamic blend of academic excellence and career potential. Canada admitted over 800,000 international students in 2022. The projected figures were over 900,000 foreign students in 2023. 

The Canadian government incentivizes international talent with post-graduation work permits. It welcomes immigration pathways, making permanent residency a real possibility for many. 

However, this path demands careful planning. 

While the new temporary cap does not apply to current study permit holders or those seeking renewals, it will undoubtedly impact aspiring international students. 

Experts anticipate increased competition for coveted spots, urging applicants to strengthen their academic profiles and carefully align their studies with regional needs.

Reactions to the new policy have been mixed. Education institutions, facing an enrollment decline due to pandemic travel restrictions, expressed concerns about a further drop in international student numbers. Proponents of the cap, however, point to potential benefits such as reduced pressure on housing and public services, and a renewed focus on quality education.

For more guidance on study-abroad destinations, please contact our expert counselors.

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