Canada Announces Two-Year Cap on International Students. How will it Affect Indians?

Canada will limit the number of new study permits issued to international students in 2024 and 2025. This represents a 35% reduction compared to 2023 levels. The government cites concerns about housing affordability, pressure on healthcare services, and ensuring the “integrity” of the student visa program. It’s important to note that the cap is temporary and will be reassessed in 2024. Meanwhile, various discussions and debates are ongoing regarding the cap’s implications and potential long-term effects.

A new set of measures in Canada on issuing of study permit!

Canada, long touted as a haven for international students, has recently initiated a dramatic shift in its immigration policy. The announcement of a two-year cap on new study permits, translating to a 35% overall reduction in 2024, sends shockwaves through the educational landscape and demands a critical examination of its implications.

The stated rationale for this drastic measure rests on a tripod of concerns – housing affordability, healthcare strain, and program integrity.

Canada, witnessing spiralling housing costs, contends that the influx of international students exacerbates the crisis, pushing locals out of the market. Similarly, concerns about overburdened healthcare services, already grappling with post-pandemic challenges, fuel the argument for curbing student intake. Finally, the issue of “program integrity” refers to allegations of unscrupulous institutions preying on international students with subpar education, prompting the government to tighten oversight.

Provinces like Ontario, facing a more acute housing crisis, bear a 50% reduction, while others with ample capacity see a smaller decrease. This one-size-fits-all approach risks jeopardizing Canada’s reputation as a welcoming and diverse educational hub. Moreover, concerns arise regarding the long-term consequences for Canada’s global appeal as a destination for skilled talent. Canada risks shooting itself in the foot by deterring talented international students, potentially diminishing its future talent pool.

Some Important Exceptions!

  • Master’s and doctoral students: Students pursuing graduate degrees are exempt from the cap, recognizing the importance of attracting and retaining highly skilled talent.

  • Elementary and secondary school students: This category is also excluded, as the policy focuses on post-secondary education.

New set of measures in Canada on issuing of work permit

Canada’s vibrant immigration scene has recently grappled with a surge of international students drawn to its reputed education system and post-study work opportunities. However, in a significant policy shift, the government has announced a new set of measures that rewrites the landscape of post-graduate work permits (PGWPs), raising questions about accessibility, fairness, and long-term consequences.

At the heart of this shift lies the decision to bar students enrolled in programs delivered through public-private partnerships (PPPs) from obtaining PGWPs, effective September 1, 2024. The government posits concerns about program quality and alignment with labour market needs in PPP institutions as justifications for this move. These institutions, often criticized for their streamlined application processes and shorter program durations, have been scrutinized for potentially prioritizing profit over rigorous academic standards.

The immediate impact of this policy is multifaceted. On the one hand, it aims to uphold the integrity of the PGWP program, ensuring that graduates possess the necessary skills and qualifications to contribute meaningfully to the Canadian workforce. Additionally, it addresses potential discrepancies in program quality between traditional public institutions and PPPs, protecting employers from hiring graduates with inadequate preparation.

However, concerns surround the potential for unintended consequences. Excluding PPP graduates from PGWP eligibility may discourage international students from enrolling in these institutions, limiting their access to Canadian education and career opportunities. Furthermore, with less international student enrollment, PPP institutions might face financial stress and even closure, creating job losses and further impacting student options.

Understanding PPPs and PGWPs in Canada

PPPs (Public-Private Partnerships): In Canada, these are educational institutions that operate through a partnership between the public sector (government) and the private sector (businesses). This model often sees private companies invest in and manage certain aspects of the institution, such as curriculum development, infrastructure, or marketing. At the same time, the government oversees overall regulations and quality standards.

PGWPs (Post-Graduation Work Permits): These are permits granted to international students who graduate from specific designated programs in Canada. This allows them to legally work in Canada for a particular period to gain valuable Canadian work experience and transition into permanent residency.

The Connection: Until recently, international students enrolled in PPP programs in Canada were also eligible for PGWPs. However, as of September 1, 2024, the Canadian government has changed its policy, prohibiting PPP graduates from obtaining PGWPs.

Light to other Significant Changes!

  • Open work permits’ availability for spouses and common-law partners of international students.

Previously, the spouses and common-law partners of all international students enrolled in designated learning institutions were eligible for open work permits. However, the new policy states that open work permits will only be available to the spouses and partners of students enrolled in Master’s and doctoral programs and specific professional programs, such as medicine, law and potentially others determined by the government.

This policy change is likely to significantly impact the ability of spouses and partners of international students in lower-level programs to work and contribute financially while in Canada. It could also result in challenges for families where student incomes might not be sufficient to cover everyone’s living expenses.

  • Ontario

Ontario, the province in Canada with the highest number of international students, may face a 50% reduction in student permits due to the new federal government policy. Immigration Minister Marc Miller announced this decision following Canada’s plan to reduce new study permits by 35% for 2024 and 2025. Ontario is likely to be affected more than other provinces due to its higher percentage of international student enrollment.

How might it impact Indians?

Many aspiring students, particularly those from India, may face difficulties obtaining study permits. Aspiring international students, particularly those from countries like India heavily reliant on Canadian education, face immense hurdles in securing coveted study permits. As India sends many students to Canada, particularly for undergraduate programs, the 35% reduction in overall intake could make it harder for Indian students to secure study permits.

With exemptions for master’s and doctoral programs, Indian students with vital academic records and aspirations for higher education might have an advantage in obtaining study permits. This could shift the focus towards graduate studies for some students initially aiming for undergraduate programs.

While the immediate implications are of concern, it’s important to note that the policy is still evolving. Canadian authorities might refine the implementation details based on feedback and changing circumstances. Additionally, ongoing discussions and advocacy efforts could lead to modifications or exceptions in the future.

Therefore, it’s crucial for Indian students aspiring to study in Canada to:

  • Stay updated on the latest developments: Follow official announcements from the Canadian government and relevant educational institutions.

  • Consult with immigration experts: Seeking professional guidance can help navigate the application process and understand the specific eligibility requirements under the new policy. Contact us:

  • Explore alternative options: Consider other study destinations, online programs, or vocational training pathways depending on their individual goals and circumstances.