Canada has decided to limit new international student visas for two years to address a housing crisis and address issues with certain institutions. Immigration Minister Marc Miller stated that there will be a 35% reduction in new study visas in 2024, aiming for a cap of 364,000 permits. The cap will be reevaluated for 2025 at the end of this year. This move responds to concerns from provinces about the rising number of non-permanent residents entering Canada amid housing challenges.
The decision is anticipated to impact Indian students, as Canada is a preferred destination for higher education. India was the leading origin country for study permit holders in 2022, with 319,000 students. The cap aims to target institutions that exploit international students, with Miller stating that some private colleges charge high fees, lack necessary resources, and offer subpar support.
The federal government’s measures also include requiring international students to provide an attestation letter from a province or territory when applying for a permit. Changes to the post-graduation work permit program include making graduates of master’s and other short graduate-level programs eligible for a three-year work permit. Open work permits will also be available to spouses of international students in master’s and doctoral programs.
The move has drawn criticism, with Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre blaming Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for granting study permits and calling him “incompetent.” New Democratic Party leader Jenny Kwan also criticized Trudeau’s “mismanagement” and expressed concerns about the potential impact on talented students.
Ontario’s Minister of Colleges and Universities, Jill Dunlop, acknowledged the need to address bad actors taking advantage of students. Nova Scotia’s department of advanced education stated that it would assess the impacts of the changes made by the federal government.