As Canada remains a sought-after destination for international students, the Honourable Marc Miller, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, has unveiled enhanced financial requirements for study permit applicants. Geared toward mitigating challenges faced by students, particularly in securing adequate housing, the new measures aim to ensure that international students are better prepared for the cost of living in Canada.
Commencing January 1, 2024, the cost-of-living financial prerequisite for study permit applicants will be adjusted annually in line with the low-income cut-off (LICO) updates by Statistics Canada. The current financial benchmark, set at $10,000 for a single applicant in the early 2000s, has become outdated, failing to reflect the evolving cost of living. Starting in 2024, single applicants must demonstrate $20,635, equivalent to 75% of LICO, along with their first-year tuition and travel costs. This revision applies to new study permit applications received on or after January 1, 2024.
To counteract the vulnerability and exploitation of students, the government plans to conduct targeted pilots in collaboration with partners in 2024. These initiatives seek to test innovative ideas that will benefit underrepresented cohorts of international students.
This announcement follows significant reforms to the International Student Program announced on October 27, 2023. These reforms include a new framework recognizing learning institutions that provide top-quality services and support, including housing, to international students. Learning institutions are expected to prioritize quality over quantity, admitting only the number of students they can adequately support.
Recognizing the responsibility to support international students, the government is prepared to take necessary measures, including limiting visas, to ensure designated learning institutions provide sufficient support. Collaboration with provincial and territorial governments, learning institutions, and other stakeholders is crucial to setting international students up for success in Canada.
Minister Miller also provided updates on temporary policies affecting international students:
- Extension of Off-Campus Work Hours: The waiver on the 20-hour-per-week limit for off-campus work will be extended to April 30, 2024. This policy extension benefits international students already in Canada or those who have applied for a study permit by December 7, 2023.
- Counting Online Study Towards Work Permits: Students beginning a study program before September 1, 2024, can continue to count time spent studying online towards the length of a future post-graduation work permit, as long as it constitutes less than 50% of the program of study.
- Additional Work Permit for Post-Graduation Work Permit Holders: The temporary policy providing an additional 18-month work permit to post-graduation work permit holders expiring up to December 31, 2023, will not be further extended.
International education contributes over $22 billion annually to Canada’s economy and supports more than 200,000 jobs. These changes aim to ensure the continued social, cultural, and economic benefits international students bring to Canada while addressing vulnerabilities in the system.
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