We have learned from confidential sources that IRCC is working on finalizing details on placing a cap on international students allowed to enter Canada annually to deal with the housing crisis.
As per our sources, different options are being considered by the Canadian Immigration Department’s higher officials to streamline and frame the whole study visa program.
So, it is certain that some sort of regulation on the number of international students entering Canada is cooking inside IRCC.
Details are not finalized yet, and nothing definite has yet been decided, but yes, IRCC is working on considering all the ways to put a cap on international students.
Recently, Marc Miller also said that they are looking at welcoming 900,000 students in 2023, which is actually the record number of international students in any given year so far.
Canada has seen an exponential growth in international students, which has boomed the education industry and rental market, but at the same time it has caused contributed to ongoing housing crisis.
It is also anticipated that we may hear about IRCC’s plan regarding how they will limit the number of international students in 2024, as we near the November–December 2023 annual immigration levels plan announcement.
Justin Trudeau recently said that we should not blame a particular group, such as international students, but Canadians must know that all the options are on the table.
Below is our ground-level report on what different stakeholders are suggesting or expecting in regards to placing a cap on international students.
Different Options That Could Be On The Table
Increasing The Quality Will Automatically Reduce Quantity
Certain education groups are suggesting increasing the language proficiency score and academic grades needed for previous education rather than placing a cap.
Their rationale is that it will automatically limit the number of international students eligible to apply for study permits by raising the standard, and Canada will get even more quality talent.
However, Canada recently reduced the IELTS Academic requirement for the Student Direct Stream and also approved four new tests, which will increase the number of applications significantly.
Canada may decide to pull back on its policy of allowing lower language proficiency scores in IELTS rather than raise the bar further from what it previously was to automatically reduce the number of eligible applicants from around the world.
International Students Accommodation Specific Cap
In accordance with the housing crisis, Canada may limit the enrollment of international students based on the number of accommodations available at designated learning institutions (DLIs).
Like 60–80% of international students, admissions should be based on the total hostel accommodations or some sort of arranged outside accommodation by a particular institution.
Sean Fraser said we want institutions to also share the responsibility that international students they are welcoming must have enough available accommodation options nearby.
He said, “When you see some of these institutions that have five, six times as many students enrolled as they have spaces for them in the building … you’ve got to start to ask yourself some pretty tough questions.”
Provincial Cap On International Students
Since the news regarding the cap on international students has been out, we have seen different responses from Canadian provinces.
Quebec, Atlantic Canada, and Saskatchewan seem not to be worried about the number of international students coming to their provinces, as they or their residents have openly criticized the option of capping international students.
In Canada, provinces regulate their designated learning institutions (DLIs), while the federal government department, IRCC, is responsible for processing study visa applications.
So there is also a possibility that the federal government may consider capping international students based on their province of destination.
However, it will be quite extensive work and time-consuming with back-and-forth feedback from provinces.
Putting Onus on International Students and DLIs For Accommodation
There is a possibility that IRCC may add in the study visa eligibility criteria for providing proof of arranged accommodation at a DLI or outside before applying for a study visa, similar to what we mentioned in the second option above, but this is unlikely.
However, IRCC is full of surprises, and such an option could also be considered by IRCC authorities.
Strict Rules For Private Colleges
Canadian Public Universities could be left out of this whole capping situation given they have quite a better infrastructure as compared to private colleges.
Marc Miller, in a recent interview regarding the capping of international students, said they needed to take action against bad players scamming the students’ programs.
He said, “Some people are making a lot of money out of it legitimately, some people are gaming the system, and my principal concern is with the integrity of the system.”
Miller said he is not concerned with the public universities but “principally the private colleges that have just ballooned in different parts of Canada.”
Current Housing Minister and former Immigration Minister Sean Fraser said, “There are good private institutions out there and separating the wheat from the chaff is going to be a big focus of the work that I tried to do with Miller.”
Like we previously said, there will be a lot of pushback from major Canadian educational institutions, and IRCC cannot ignore their interests and will have to take the whole picture into consideration, which makes it quite a difficult task.
International students generate more than $22 billion per year in revenue and Canada cannot afford to lose that chunk of its economy.
Overall, Canada will have to put a cap on international students or some sort of mechanism in place to welcome only those individuals for whom they can provide a place to live while keeping inflation and the labour market intact.
So we still believe that it will not be a hard cap on international students completely closing the doors for international students, but rather focusing more on streamlining the international student program, which will keep the number of international students in check.
Bad players will be weeded out of the study visa program or may lose the status of providing post-graduation work permits (PGWP), which will automatically reduce interest in such institutions.
Currently, it is imbalanced, and Ottawa needs to balance its approach to continue welcoming international students from around the globe.
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