Additional information about the International Student Program Changes
On February 5, 2024, IRCC provided further details on the recent announcement of the International Student Program Changes; Canada aims to address the unsustainable growth in recent years while ensuring a positive experience for international students. As of January 22, 2024, post-secondary international students at the college or undergraduate level must now include a Provincial Attestation Letter (PAL) from a province or territory with their study permit application.
Secondary, effective February 15, 2024, graduates from master’s degree programs less than two years in length are eligible for an extended 3-year PGWP. This change supports their transition to Canada’s labor market and potential permanent residence. Other PGWP lengths remain aligned with the study program’s duration. IRCC has restricted PGWPs for public-private partnership college programs.
Finally, open work permit eligibility for spouses and common-law partners of international students will be updated. These reforms aim to promote sustainable population growth in Canada, improve system integrity, and ensure a positive experience for international students.
Over a million International students studied at Canadian universities
Active study permits for international students in Canada grew by 27% to 1,028,850 in 2023, exceeding the government’s projection of 950,000. Ontario hosted 51% of these students, followed by British Columbia (19.5%) and Quebec (11.5%).
However, this rapid growth has created challenges like housing shortages and strain on the healthcare system. This has led to a planned 35% decrease in approved study permits for 2024. The cap will be based on each province’s population, leading to significant changes in student recruitment across provinces. This move is supported by a Nanos Research poll indicating that 55% of Canadians favor accepting fewer international students.
International student numbers have increased dramatically, from 637,855 in 2019 to 807,260 in 2022, prompting concerns that many students, including those from India, are being exploited by agents who recruit them to attend private colleges in Canada with subpar standards, support, and facilities.
More than 60,000 international students became permanent residents of Canada in 2023, a 9,670 increase over the 52,740 international graduates who became international students in 2022, according to IRCC data.
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