Canada has emerged as a top-tier destination for students seeking a world-class education in an inclusive and diverse environment. Canada's commitment to internationalization is evident in its efforts to attract students from around the world. The exposure to different perspectives and ideas contributes to a holistic education that prepares students to tackle global challenges. Canada is Renowned for its high academic standards, cutting-edge research facilities, breathtaking landscapes, and opportunities for some to work or immigrate permanently after graduation. While international students have contributed to life on campuses and innovation across the country, they have also experienced some serious challenges, such as finding adequate housing, as they pursue their studies in Canada.
Revised requirements to better protect international students
Revised requirements to better protect international students
On December 7, 2023, Marc Miller Minister of Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) announced a series of crucial updates impacting international students either planning to come to or already studying in Canada. These policy revisions aim to shield international students from rising living costs and recent housing challenges.
The Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Marc Miller has announced that starting January 1, 2024, the cost-of-living financial requirement for study permit applicants will be raised so that international students are financially prepared for life in Canada. Moving forward, this threshold will be adjusted each year when Statistics Canada updates the low-income cut-off (LICO). LICO represents the minimum income needed to ensure that an individual does not have to spend a greater than-average portion of income on necessities.
The cost-of-living requirement for study permit applicants has remained unchanged since the early 2000s when it was set at $10,000 for a single applicant. Consequently, the financial requirement has not kept pace with the cost of living, resulting in students realizing upon arrival in Canada that their funds are insufficient. For 2024, a single applicant must demonstrate they possess $20,635, equivalent to 75% of LICO, in addition to their first year of tuition and travel costs. This modification will apply to new study permit applications received on or after January 1, 2024.
The changes made are meant to protect students from vulnerability and exploitation. Understanding that these changes might affect students differently. In the coming year, Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) plans to work with others to implement new pilots that focus on helping groups of international students who may not have been represented as much in the past. The goal is to make it easier for more students to study in Canada.
In welcoming international students, IRCC takes a responsibility to make sure that students are supported when they come to the country. Ahead of the September 2024 semester, IRCC prepared to take necessary measures, including limiting visas, to ensure that designated learning institutions provide adequate student support as part of the academic experience to ensure international students are set up for success in Canada.
Extended Working Hours limit while class in session
Minister Miller also provided an update on temporary policies affecting international students that were initially set to expire at the end of 2023.
One notable extension is the waiver on the 20-hour-per-week limit for off-campus work during the academic term, which will now be prolonged until April 30, 2024. This extension applies to both international students already in Canada and those who have submitted a study permit application by December 7, 2023. They will be permitted to work off campus for more than 20 hours per week until the specified date. Additionally, there is ongoing consideration for potential future changes, including the exploration of allowing international students to work up to 30 hours per week off campus while classes are in session.
In a positive move to support international students in Canada, recent changes have extended the working hours limit while classes are in session the extension is only in effect until the end of April. This adjustment offers students greater flexibility and opportunities to balance their academic and work commitments effectively.
Changes to Post-Graduation Work Permit Rules for International Students in Canada
International students who started their studies before September 1, 2024, can still include online learning time (up to 50% of the program) when applying for a post-graduation work permit. However, this measure will no longer apply to students who begin a study program on or after that date. The allowance for online learning was initially introduced in 2020 due to travel restrictions during the pandemic and was scaled back in September 2022. Most international students are currently attending classes in person in Canada.
During the recovery from the pandemic, the government introduced a temporary policy on 3 occasions. This policy allowed people with a post-graduation work permit, which is a permit to work after graduating, to get an extra 18 months if their first permit was ending. If your post-graduation work permit expires by December 31, 2023, you can still apply for this extra time. However, this temporary policy will not be extended further.
Significant modifications to the Post-Graduation Work Permit rules have been implemented, allowing students who commenced their studies before a specified date to include online learning time when applying for the permit. While changes will come into effect for those starting their programs after a certain date, these adjustments reflect a commitment to adapting policies in response to evolving circumstances.
Changes to the International Student Program aim to protect students
The Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, Marc Miller has also announced plans to implement several measures aimed at strengthening Canada’s International Student Program and at better protecting genuine students from fraud. These measures include the following:
From December 1, 2023, colleges and universities in Canada (called designated learning institutions or DLI) must check and confirm every student's acceptance letter directly with the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). This extra verification step is meant to prevent fake acceptance letters and to avoid issues that some students had earlier due to fraud investigations. It ensures that study permits are given only to students with real acceptance letters.
Starting with the fall semester of 2024, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) will introduce a system called "recognized institution." This system will help colleges and universities (called designated learning institutions or DLIs) that offer better services and support to international students. These DLIs will get special benefits, like faster processing of study permits for students who want to study at their school.
Overall, these changes underline Canada's dedication to fostering a welcoming and supportive environment for international students. The amendments to the International Student Program are designed not only to protect students but also to enhance their overall educational experience. As Canada continues to evolve its policies, the positive impact on international students remains a priority, reinforcing the country's reputation as a premier destination for global education.