Canada Announces New Guidelines aimed at providing better protection to international students! Part II

Canada faces both opportunities and challenges in the realm of international students. Canada boasts world-renowned universities and colleges offering diverse programs and cutting-edge research opportunities. Canada offers attractive options for graduates, including work permits and immigration pathways, making it a potential springboard for long-term careers.

There's a significant change for international students considering Canada!

Raising the cost-of-living requirement to reflect LICO is a positive step towards ensuring their financial well-being while studying in Canada. Students will arrive with sufficient funds to cover living expenses, reducing financial stress and vulnerability. With more resources, students are less likely to fall prey to predatory practices or be forced to work excessive hours to make ends meet. Adequate financial resources can help students have a better overall experience by enabling them to focus on their studies.

Increasing the cost-of-living requirement to $20,635, reflecting 75% of LICO, addresses a longstanding challenge international students face in Canada. Basing the requirement on LICO ensures a more accurate reflection of actual living costs compared to the outdated $10,000 figure.

What is LICO?

LICO stands for Low Income Cut-Off. In Canada, the term “low-income” refers to a family whose income is below a certain threshold and who is likely to spend more on fundamental necessities like food, shelter, and clothing than the average family. LICO serves as a benchmark for measuring and addressing poverty in Canada. It’s used by various government agencies, researchers, and social organizations to develop programs and policies to support low-income families.

LICO is calculated annually by Statistics Canada based on data from their Family Expenditure Survey. They analyze families’ spending patterns across different sizes and community sizes to determine the income level where spending on core necessities exceeds a certain percentage (currently 20%) of the average family’s income.

What is LICO regarding overseas education and international students?

LICO, or Low Income Cut-Off, plays a specific role in overseas education for international students in Canada. Since January 1, 2024, Canada has used 75% of LICO to determine the minimum financial requirement for international students applying for study permits. This means applicants must demonstrate access to funds equivalent to 75% of the LICO for their chosen region and family size, besides tuition fees and travel costs.

This shift aims to better reflect Canada’s living expenses compared to the outdated flat figure of $10,000 used previously.

In a Nutshell

New Cost-of-Living Thresholds and Support Initiatives:

  • Higher Financial Requirement: Starting January 1, 2024, study permit applicants must show proof of more significant financial resources to reflect Canada’s actual cost of living. This threshold will adjust yearly based on updated cost-of-living data.
  • Targeted Pilots: In 2024, pilot programs will test new approaches to support underrepresented student groups pursuing Canadian studies.
  • Institutional Responsibility: Designated learning institutions must provide adequate support services, including housing options, to admitted students. IRCC may limit visas if institutions fail to meet these expectations.
  • Collaboration: Working with provinces, territories, education stakeholders, and institutions to ensure international student success.

Minister Miller also provided an update on 3 temporary policies affecting international students that were all set to expire at the end of 2023, including the following:

Updates on Temporary Policies:

  • Off-Campus Work: Canada has temporarily increased off-campus work hours for international students to April 30, 2024. This applies to students already in Canada and those who applied for a permit before December 7, 2023. Even better, Canada is considering letting them work up to 30 hours in the future!
  • Online Study & Post-Graduation Work Permits: The facilitative measure allowing the online study to contribute to post-graduation work permit eligibility for international students enrolled before September 1, 2024, is being discontinued. This temporary policy, implemented during the pandemic and later curtailed in scope, is no longer deemed necessary as most students now study in person.
  • Additional Post-Graduation Work Permit (18 months): The temporary policy introduced due to pandemic-related labour market disruptions, which provided another 18-month work permit to eligible post-graduation work permit holders, has concluded. The policy applied to applicants whose initial work permits expired by December 31, 2023, and will not be further extended.


“We are revising the cost-of-living threshold and exploring housing solutions to protect international students from financial vulnerability and exploitation,” says Minister Miller. Marc Miller, Canada’s Immigration Minister, highlights a significant shift in their approach to supporting international students.

Canada recognizes its responsibility to support international students beyond just granting visas. They acknowledge the challenges students face and are committed to ensuring their success. The emphasis is on universities and colleges to provide adequate student support, including housing, orientation, and academic resources. This signals a potential crackdown on institutions that fall short. Limiting visas is a strong statement, indicating that Canada is serious about holding institutions accountable for providing essential support services.

Quick Facts:

  • International education contributes over $22 billion annually to the Canadian economy.
  • Quebec sets its cost-of-living threshold for its institutions.
  • The Student Direct Stream applies the new financial guidelines for specific countries.

Benefits & Challenges!

The recent policy changes in Canada regarding international students offer a range of benefits, impacting both students and the overall education system. Here’s a breakdown of the key benefits:

Increased Financial Security:

  • Higher cost-of-living requirement: Reflecting the actual living expenses, the revised financial requirement ensures students arrive with sufficient funds to manage their needs, reducing financial stress and focusing on their studies.
  • Off-campus work flexibility: Extending the off-campus work hour waiver allows students to earn additional income, potentially reducing reliance on financial aid or family support and fostering independence.

Improved Student Experience:

  • Enhanced student support: Placing responsibility on institutions to provide sufficient support services fosters a more welcoming and successful academic journey for international students.
  • Post-graduation opportunities: Continued eligibility for additional work permits (until December 31, 2023) provides graduates valuable time to gain experience and potentially transition to permanent residency.
  • Online study flexibility (until September 1, 2024): Recognizing the pandemic’s impact, allowing online study to count towards post-graduation work permits offers greater flexibility and potential benefits for some students.

However, it’s important to acknowledge potential challenges:

  • Accessibility concerns: Higher financial requirements and stricter visa regulations could hinder students from less affluent countries’ access to Canadian education.
  • Impact on smaller institutions: Stricter requirements might disproportionately affect smaller institutions with limited resources.
  • Exploitation risks: Students might be vulnerable to unfair work practices or inadequate housing due to limited knowledge of laws or support systems.

Overall, the recent policy changes in Canada demonstrate a commitment to supporting international students while ensuring responsible practices and a positive experience. However, continued monitoring and implementation of supportive measures are crucial to maximize the benefits for both students and Canada.

Unimoni: Your Immigration, Education and Financial Partner!

Unimoni is a one-stop-shop for individuals who need help with immigration, education, finances, and travel, especially those with international aspirations. We offer various services to make these processes more accessible for you. Our experts can guide you if you need help navigating the complex visa process. We also provide secure and reliable money transfers to loved ones worldwide. Choose our competitive rates if you need to exchange currency for travel needs.

Go for our student travel card to help you manage your finances abroad. Unimoni can also assist with booking convenient flights at competitive prices. Finally, if you need guidance for your study abroad journey, we have expert educational counsellors to help you make the best decisions!

Ready to make your international dreams a reality? Contact Unimoni today!