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Canada Sets Limits on Student Visas, to end open work permits for spouses of international students Amid Housing Concerns

Canada Sets Limits on Student Visas, to end open work permits for spouses of international students Amid Housing Concerns

Canada has announced measures to address concerns about the impact of growing numbers of international students on the housing market. The federal government, led by Marc Miller, the Minister of Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship, revealed plans on Monday, January 22, to implement a two-year cap on the number of student visas issued.

Starting in 2024, the federal government aims to approve 360,000 undergraduate study permits, representing a 35% reduction from 2023. Each province and territory will receive a share of this total, allocated based on population size. This approach aims to significantly reduce international student numbers in provinces experiencing unsustainable growth.

Under the new rule, provinces and territories will have the authority to distribute permits among universities and colleges within their jurisdiction. The two-year cap will be in effect, and a reassessment of the number of visas issued in 2025 will occur at the end of this year. This initiative seeks to address housing challenges linked to the influx of international students in specific regions across Canada.

“It’s unacceptable that some private institutions have taken advantage of international students by operating under-resourced campuses, lacking supports for students and charging high tuition fees all the while significantly increasing their intake of international students,” Miller said.

In addition to the cap, the federal government will also require international students applying for a permit to provide an attestation letter from a province or territory.

“To be absolutely clear, these measures are not against individual international students,” Miller said.

“They are to ensure that as future students arrive in Canada, they receive the quality of education that they signed up for and the hope that they were provided in their home countries.”

Miller said starting in September, international students who begin a program that is part of a curriculum licensing arrangement — where a private college has been licensed to deliver the curriculum of an associated public college — will no longer be eligible for a post-graduation work permit.

Graduates of master’s and other “short graduate-level programs” will “soon” be able to apply for a three-year work permit. Open work permits will also only be made available to the spouses of international students in master’s and doctoral programs.

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