CANADA – Reforms to the International Student Program

January 30, 2024

By: Bahman Motamedi

The Canadian government has announced reforms to the International Student Program, placing a temporary cap on the number of study permit applications. This cap is part of a strategy to stabilize the growth of the program and ensure quality education and living standards for international students. As we navigate these changes, it’s crucial for students, educational institutions, and immigration professionals to understand the implications of these reforms.

A Closer Look at the Cap

For the year 2024, the cap is expected to impact approximately 360,000 study permits. However, it’s important to note the exemptions to this cap:

  1. Renewals of Study Permits: Current study permit holders looking to renew their permits will not be affected by this cap.
  2. Exclusions: The cap does not include Master’s and doctoral students as well as primary and secondary school students.

Essential Documentation: The Attestation Letter

A notable change in the application process is the introduction of an attestation letter. Starting from January 22, 2024, each study permit application submitted to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) must include a letter of endorsement from a province or territory. Applications without an attestation letter will be returned, with the exception of those seeking study permits as minors or attending Master’s, Ph.D., or other post-graduate programs.

Duration of the Restrictions

These measures are temporary, set to last for two years. The number of new study permit applications to be accepted in 2025 will be reassessed at the end of this year.

Changes in the Post-Graduation Work Permit Program

The reforms also touch on the Post-Graduation Work Permit Program (PGWP), introducing significant changes:

  1. Eligibility for Short Graduate-Level Programs: Graduates of Master’s and other short graduate-level programs will now be eligible to apply for a 3-year work permit, expanding opportunities for international students.
  2. Curriculum Licensing Arrangement: Graduates of study programs that are part of a curriculum licensing arrangement will no longer be eligible for the PGWP.
  3. Spousal Open Work Permit: The eligibility for an open work permit will now be limited to spouses of international students in Master’s and doctoral programs. Spouses of students in other levels of study, including undergraduate and college programs, will no longer be eligible.

Navigating the Changes

These reforms represent a significant shift in Canada’s approach to international education. As always, it’s crucial for students and institutions to stay informed and prepare for these changes. As always, don’t hesitate to reach out to your Newland Chase dedicated contact or submit an inquiry here should you have any specific questions regarding this announcement.

This immigration update is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for legal or scenario-specific advice. Furthermore, it is important to note that immigration announcements are subject to sudden and unexpected changes. Readers are encouraged to reach out to Newland Chase for any case- or company-specific assessments.