The New Student Visa Regulations for Canada in 2024

Studying abroad is a challenging process, but not an impossible one. By planning meticulously and diligently, students can pursue international education. To embark on this journey successfully, staying updated with the rules and regulations of your desired destination is crucial.

For many aspiring international students, Canada is a top study destination. Canada has recently implemented several changes in study rules for international students, particularly in the study permit and post-graduate work permit (PGWP) requirements. Whether Canada is already on your shortlist or you are just beginning to explore university and college options in the country, being aware of these recent developments is essential. This article aims to provide insights into the latest updates, ensuring that you are well-informed about the changes affecting international students in Canada.

Overview of New Rules for International Students
As an aspiring student, you must be aware of the changes in the study visa rules. Here are the key changes:

1. Temporary Federal Cap on Study Permits
We anticipate a 35% reduction in approved study permits in 2024, with the intake capped at 360,000. The cap for 2025 will be determined by year-end 2024 only.

2. Changes to Post Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) Eligibility
As of September 1, 2024, international students enrolling in private colleges with licensed curricula will not qualify for PGWPs.

3. Extended PGWPs for Master’s Graduates
Graduates of master’s programs in Canada can now benefit from a prolonged post-graduation work opportunity as they become eligible for three-year PGWPs.

4. Revised Cost-of-Living standards
Effective January 1, 2024, international students must show a minimum of CAD 20,635 (previously CAD 10,000) to cover living expenses. For Quebec, the rules are different.

5. Eligibility Changes for Spousal Open Work Permit
Open work permits for spouses are now limited to those of international students enrolled in master’s, doctoral, and professional programs.

1. Temporary Cap on Study Permits
The federal government’s announcement on January 22, 2024, brings forth a significant shift in international education. To manage the influx of international students, authorities have introduced a two-year cap on approving study permit applications. Projections indicate a notable 35% reduction in the issuance of new study permits in 2024 compared to the previous year, with an estimated 360,000 permits expected to be granted. The cap for 2025 is yet to be determined and will be decided at the end of the year.

Provinces and territories will be able to impose limitations on the number of new international students enrolled in undergraduate programs as a result of this revolutionary policy. Ontario and other areas with unsustainable growth will probably see a 50% decrease in the number of research permit granted. These provinces now have the authority to set caps on study permits for particular colleges and universities under their control.

However, these rules don’t affect students pursuing master’s or doctoral degrees. International students already studying in Canada and renewing their study permits will not face any impact, giving them a smooth continuation of their studies there.

Canada’s Decision to Limit International Students
The number of study permits issued in Canada has significantly increased, posing problems for the country’s infrastructure, particularly in the housing and healthcare sectors. Furthermore, some private universities have neglected to raise curriculum standards and improve admissions in favor of admitting more international students in an effort to increase money. All of these reasons forced the government to impose a cap on study permits. In the end, this program makes sure that foreign students in Canada get the help they need to succeed academically and generally.

Impact of International Student Cap on Study Permit Applicants
The new study permit cap raises concerns for international students. As there will undoubtedly be significant consequences, let us explore the direct impact of the student cap on study permits.

Increased Competition: As study permit approval decreases, the competition for admission into Canadian Designated Learning Institutions (DLIs) is anticipated to increase.

Master’s and Doctoral Programs: The rule does not apply to students enrolled in master’s or doctoral programs in Canada.

Challenges for Undergraduate Programs: Enrolling in undergraduate programs such as bachelor’s degrees, diplomas, or certificates will pose a more significant challenge for students in qualifying for a study permit.

Regional Variation: The reduction in study permits is anticipated to be more significant in Ontario, British Columbia, and Nova Scotia, potentially resulting in heightened competition for students interested in these provinces.

Additional Documentation: Starting January 22, 2024, along with the Letter of Acceptance (LOA) and proof of funds, obtaining an attestation letter from the specific province or territory becomes mandatory for study permit applications.

Longer Processing Times: Provinces and territories have until March 31, 2024, to set up processes for attestation letters. This might result in longer processing times and potential delays for students applying for the summer intake in 2024.

Exemption of Study Permit Cap on Different Student Categories

A. International students in Quebec are unaffected, as they were already required to submit a Quebec Acceptance Certificate for study permit approval.

B. Existing study permit holders seeking extensions in Canada are unaffected by the study permit cap introduced for applications after January 22, 2024.

C. Master’s or doctoral students pursuing graduate degrees are exempt from federal and provincial study permit caps, with these restrictions exclusively targeting undergraduate programs offered by Canadian colleges and universities.

2. Changes to Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) Eligibility
PGWP is an open work permit for international students completing eligible study programs in Canada. Previously, most students who completed Canadian study programs longer than eight months were eligible for PGWPs.

Starting September 1, 2024, a significant change unfolds as graduates of study programs offered by public-private partnership (PPP) institutions under curriculum licensing agreements will no longer qualify for PGWPs upon graduation.

Reasons Behind the Exclusion of PPP Institution Graduates
Under curriculum licensing arrangements, private colleges deliver a curriculum created by an associated public college. However, these institutions face relatively less regulatory oversight. The Canadian government has accused some PPP institutions of providing inadequate educational value to international students. As a strict response, these measures have been implemented to safeguard the education system and international students from entities exploiting them for significant profits.

A noteworthy modification to the PGWP program pertains to the eligibility of master’s degree program graduates for a three-year work permit. In contrast to the former arrangement, which matched the length of the study program with the PGWP, this modification gives master’s graduates more time to get Canadian work experience and improves their eligibility for PR programs.

Impact of changes to PGWP
Changes are made to Canada’s PGWP program to enhance its effectiveness. The PGWP program allows Canada to retain skilled professionals who graduate from its universities and colleges, contributing to the job market and economy. The modifications aim to ensure that international students qualifying for PGWPs possess the necessary qualifications for success in the Canadian job market, and they also incentivize academic institutions in Canada to elevate the quality of education provided to students.

Changes to the PGWP program aim to ensure that qualifying international students possess the necessary qualifications for success in the Canadian job market, encouraging academic institutions to enhance the quality of education they provide. Also, with the gained Canadian work experience, it becomes easier for students to qualify for PR programs like the Canadian Experience Class (CEC), Federal Skilled Worker (FSW), and Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs).

3. Longer PGWPs for Master’s Graduates
Starting February 15, 2024, a significant change takes place. This change involves providing a more extended post-graduation work permit (PGWP) for three years. It applies specifically to graduates from master’s degree programs that are less than two years long. However, they must meet all other eligibility criteria for the PGWP. Additionally, graduates of master’s degree programs, even if less than two years in duration, also qualify for a 3-year PGWP. The government has modified the length of the PGWP, enabling individuals to accumulate the necessary Canadian work experience essential for applying for PR.

4. Revised Cost-of-Living standards
Starting January 1, 2024, international students must meet an increased cost of living requirement of CAD 20,635 (previously CAD 10,000), excluding tuition fees. In Quebec, the minimum proof of financial support is CAD 15,078, except for students under 18, who must show access to at least CAD 7,541.

Applying for a Canadian study permit on or after January 1, 2024, will require you to show that you have enough income to cover the new cost of living requirements. Keep in mind that, as an international student, you only need to have this money on hand to cover your living expenses while you are enrolled in classes. You do not pay these monies to the IRCC or your academic institution.

Changes to Increase Support for International Students
Implementing an increase in the cost of living requirement aims to present a more accurate reflection of students’ living expenses in Canada.

This adjustment ensures that international students have ample funds to cover necessities during their stay. The cost of living requirements will undergo annual revisions.

Previously, reports surfaced about international students facing financial challenges in Canada. All these measures are taken to ease financial burdens and support international students in focusing more on their studies.

5. Spousal Open Work Permit (SOWP) Eligibility Changes
Spouses of international students enrolled in a full-time study program were eligible for SOWPs until 2023. However, a change is underway, restricting open work permits under Section C42 to spouses of master’s and doctoral students and those in professional programs like law and medicine. Regrettably, spouses of international students enrolled in undergraduate and other college programs will no longer qualify for open work permits.

There might be more rivalry for admissions and visas now that Canada has stricter annual study permit requirements for foreign students. But this change guarantees that the government will back efforts to raise the standard of instruction for overseas pupils. Aiming to provide Canadian firms with access to top talent, the PGWP and open work permit programs have been modified to facilitate employment prospects for international talent. Furthermore, while a greater cost of living requirement could force new students to reevaluate their spending plans, it is in the long run beneficial to be clear about their realistic financial needs. A dynamic global community and improved educational opportunities for students from around the world are the goals of all these efforts, which support programs for international students.

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