Canada announces cap on international student permits

A 35 perecent decrease in new international student permits went into effect in Canada starting January 22, 2024

Canada slashed new international student permits for 2024 by 35 percent /

Canada’s Minister of Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship (IRCC) Marc Miller has announced an intake cap on international student permit applications with effect from 2024. The cap will be in place for two years to stabilize new growth.

The newly-introduced cap is expected to result in approximately 360,000 approved study permits, signifying a 35 percent decrease from 2023. Nearly 560,000 student visas were granted by the country last year.

Notably, current study permit holders will not be affected by the change. Students pursuing master’s and doctoral degrees as well as elementary and secondary education are not included in the cap. The number of applications for 2025 will be re-assessed by the end of 2024.

“Through the decisive measures announced today, we are striking the right balance for Canada and ensuring the integrity of our immigration system while setting students up for the success they hope for,” Miller said during the formal announcement.

According to the new rules, IRCC will allocate a portion of the cap to each province and territory, which will then be distributed among their designated learning institutions. Each study permit application submitted to IRCC will also require an attestation letter from a province or territory, with effect from January 22.

Provinces and territories are expected to establish a process for issuing student attestation letters no later than March 31, 2024. The primary agenda behind this decision is to resolve the housing crisis looming over the country.

Housing crisis in Canada

The housing crisis in Canada is one of the worst due to an imbalanced demand-supply ratio. The country needs 5.8 million homes to be built by 2030, however, currently, it is on track to build less than half of what is required, as per a report by Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC).

International students are forced to bear the brunt of inadequate housing in the country. Private universities in Canadian provinces are notorious for sending out acceptance letters to international students, without provisions in place to house them. These students are then forced to live in poor living conditions.

In response to that, Miller, in December 2023, announced that the cost-of-living financial requirement for study permit applicants will be need to show funds amounting to $20,635, representing 75 percent of Low Income Cut-Off (LICO), in addition to their first year tuition and travel costs. The change came into effect on January 1, 2024.