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Revised requirements to better protect international students

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Canada is highly regarded as a destination for international students because of its quality education, diverse and welcoming society, and opportunities to work or immigrate after graduation. However, these students often face challenges like finding adequate housing while studying in Canada.

The Canadian Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, Marc Miller, recently announced a significant update regarding financial requirements for study permit applicants. Effective January 1, 2024, the cost-of-living financial requirement will increase, ensuring international students are better prepared financially for life in Canada. This requirement will now be annually adjusted in line with the low-income cut-off (LICO) figures from Statistics Canada. LICO is a threshold indicating the minimum income needed to avoid spending a disproportionately high amount on basic necessities.

For many years, the financial requirement for study permit applicants remained unchanged at $10,000 for a single applicant, a figure established in the early 2000s. This stagnation meant that the requirement did not reflect the rising cost of living, leading to students arriving in Canada with insufficient funds. Starting in 2024, a single applicant will need to demonstrate financial capacity of $20,635, equivalent to 75% of LICO, in addition to covering their first year's tuition and travel expenses. This updated requirement applies to new study permit applications received from January 1, 2024, onwards.

The government acknowledges that this change might affect applicants differently and plans to launch targeted pilots next year. These pilots, developed in collaboration with various partners, aim to support underrepresented groups of international students in Canada.

Additionally, on October 27, 2023, the government announced reforms to the International Student Program. These reforms include a new framework to recognize educational institutions that offer quality services and support to international students, particularly in housing. Educational institutions are expected to admit only as many students as they can adequately support.

The Canadian government emphasizes its responsibility to ensure international students receive adequate support. Measures, including potential visa limitations, are being considered to guarantee that educational institutions provide necessary student supports. Collaboration with provincial and territorial governments, educational institutions, and other stakeholders is crucial to ensure international students succeed in Canada.

Minister Miller also updated on three temporary policies affecting international students, which were set to expire at the end of 2023:

  • The waiver allowing international students to work off-campus for more than 20 hours per week while classes are in session will be extended to April 30, 2024. This applies to students already in Canada and those who have applied for a study permit by December 7, 2023. The government is considering future changes, like increasing off-campus work hours to 30 per week.
  • The policy allowing international students to count online study time towards a post-graduation work permit will continue for those who start their program before September 1, 2024. This facilitative measure will not apply to students starting their programs on or after that date.
  • The temporary policy providing an additional 18-month work permit to post-graduation work permit holders will not be extended beyond December 31, 2023.

These changes reflect Canada's commitment to the welfare of international students, ensuring they are financially stable and well-supported during their studies.