Canada Welcomed Over 1 Million International Students in 2023
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Canada Welcomed Over 1 Million International Students in 2023

Austin Campbell

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Canada Welcomed Over 1 Million International Students in 2023

The number of international students with study permits in Canada has surpassed the one million mark in 2023, marking a significant rise in the influx of global learners. According to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), the count reached 1,028,850 study permit holders by the end of December, surpassing earlier estimates for the year.

Breaking Down the Numbers

The distribution across provinces reveals Ontario as the top destination with 526,015 international students, followed by British Columbia with 202,565 and Quebec hosting 117,925.

Notably, students from India constitute the largest national cohort among Canadian study permit holders, representing 37% of the total permits issued till November 2023.

The statistics indicate a significant shift in trends over the past five years, particularly for Indian students:

  • In 2018, the number of Indians with study permits was 107,070, and
  • Reached to 215,190 by November 2023.

However, the data also reflects a recent decline in applications, partly attributed to bilateral tensions between India and Canada.

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Canada’s Immigration Minister, Marc Miller, expressed concerns over the escalating numbers, stating that the system “has gotten out of control.” To address the situation, several measures have been implemented, including increased financial requirements for new study permit applications and enhanced scrutiny of acceptance letters by designated learning institutions (DLIs).

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In response to the housing affordability crisis in Canada, the government introduced financial criteria, requiring single applicants to demonstrate CA$20,635 (approximately ₹12.7 lakh) compared to the previous CA$10,000 (about ₹6.14 lakh). Furthermore, Designated Learning Institutions are mandated to verify acceptance letters through the IRCC.

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As Canada struggles with the complexities of managing significant arrivals of international students, ongoing evaluations and policy adjustments aim to strike a balance between welcoming learners and addressing the challenges associated with the surge. Recently, Immigration Minister Marc Miller has taken a proactive step to address challenges within its international student system. With a vision to stabilize economic, social, and cultural growth, the government has set a two-year cap on new international student permits.

2024 Study Permit Cap: Key Details

For the year 2024, the cap is set at approximately 360,000 permits, indicating a reduction from the previous year. The allocation of provincial and territorial caps is based on population size, aiming to curtail unsustainable growth in specific regions. Notably, renewals, as well as those pursuing advanced degrees and primary/secondary education, are exempt from the limit, ensuring minimal disruption for existing permit holders.

Starting January 22, 2024, attestation letters become a mandatory component of study permit applications to IRCC. Provinces and territories are expected to implement attestation letter processes by March 31, 2024. These measures will be reassessed at the end of the two years, ensuring an efficient and streamlined application system.

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Changes to Post-Graduation Work Permit Criteria

Effective September 1, 2024, IRCC is modifying Post-Graduation Work Permit eligibility. Students in curriculum licensing arrangements won’t qualify, but graduates of master’s and short graduate-level programs will now enjoy a 3-year work permit, easing the path to permanent residence. Additionally, open work permits will be exclusive to spouses of foreign students in master’s and doctoral programs. These adjustments and the imposition of a 2-year cap signify a proactive approach to creating a more sustainable environment for international students in Canada. As the nation adapts its policies, the positive changes aim to benefit both students and the broader community.

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