First things first, this is being blown out of context with the former IRCC Minister and new Canadian Immigration Minister saying they may (a big may) consider limiting the number of international students.
This doesn’t mean they will close the doors for international students; it means they are considering setting an annual quota on admissions, but it is not as simple as it sounds.
In this article, we discuss how feasible and logical this consideration is and what future study visa applicants should infer from this circulating news.
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The latest statement by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on August 23, 2023 regarding blaming students for housing unaffordability.
Basis of Cap on International Students consideration
Canada is currently dealing with a housing crisis (affordability of owning and renting) despite raising mortgage rates to record highs post pandemic.
Canadian ground level sentiment is that the record immigration (permanent resident) targets set by the current Liberal government are causing this housing crunch.
In the recent Cabinet shuffle, with Sean Fraser transitioning from immigration minister to housing minister and the incoming of a new immigration minister, Marc Miller, Liberals faced quite uncomfortable questions pointing out the need to limit immigration.
Responding to this, both ministers, speaking out about their liberal approach, said they believe it is totally the opposite.
In the same tone, both said new immigrants are key to solving the housing crisis, so limiting immigration is not an option; rather, they need newcomers who can help Canada build more homes.
However, they said they ‘may’ consider putting a cap on the number of international students welcomed every year to ensure that high demand for renting can at least slow down rising home prices.
Will there be a cap on international students?
At this point in time, there are talks in the Liberal cabinet to look into the option of limiting the number of international students entering Canada.
However, there is nothing concrete about this. On August 21, Minister Sean Fraser said it was one of the options that they ‘ought’ to consider.
On August 22, Minister Fraser said in an interview with CTV that certain private colleges are abusing the program by not supporting them by providing housing options near the campuses.
Sean Fraser said, “There’s conversations I’ve had on a range of different options with [Immigration] Minister Miller. There’s some work that we’re looking at how to better partner with institutions… but I don’t think we should be afraid to talk openly about the different options that we ought to consider.”
International students contribute in excess of 10 billion dollars to the Canadian GDP; do you think the Canadian government will limit the number of international students?
“The international student program is extraordinary. It serves Canada’s interests, it contributes tens of billions of dollars to our GDP, and it provides a pipeline of young and talented people who will be Canadian one day, but… the people who come need to be better supported.” Fraser recently said.
Push Back on Capping international students
Quebec has already said that the idea of a cap on student visas is not an option to deal with the ongoing housing crisis.
Alexandre Lahaie, a spokesperson for Quebec Immigration Minister Christine Fréchette, says, “Quebec does not intend to impose a cap on the number of foreign students in its jurisdiction. Although issuing study permits is the responsibility of the federal government, education is the exclusive power of Quebec. It’s up to Quebec and its educational institutions to determine the number of people they can accommodate.”
Universities and colleges are already pushing back on talks of putting a cap on international students.
Colleges and Institutes Canada says, “Although implementing a cap on international students may seem to provide temporary relief, it could have lasting adverse effects on our communities, including exacerbating current labour shortages. Furthermore, we want to emphasize that students are not to blame for Canada’s housing crisis; they are among those most impacted.”
So the answer to capping international students is that it will be really difficult for the federal government since they will face pushback from provincial governments as well as educational institutions.
Sean Fraser acknowledged that there are jurisdictional constraints and that he will need to work with different levels of government to reach a decision since provinces have authority to select designated learning institutions (DLIs).
Our Inference of whole situation
Canada is now receiving a record number of new study permit applications from international students around the Globe.
Canada approved a total of 434,899 new international students in the first half of 2023, as compared to 736,627 in the full year of 2022.
It is clear that the IRCC is now receiving and processing a record number of study permit applications, and this interest is expected to grow exponentially over the upcoming years.
So whether the Liberals, Conservatives, or any other party, they will have to eventually put a cap on international students to match the accommodation.
Now, that doesn’t mean they will close the doors for all the foreign students.
If implemented, Canada will have to set an annual cap on welcoming new international students similar to 2022–2023 admissions to stay in business.
Is Canada putting a cap on international students?
As of August 22, 2023, the Housing Minister of Canada and former Immigration Minister, Sean Fraser, confirmed that they have not taken any decision on capping the number of international students.
However, he and new Immigration Minister Marc Miller are actively discussing different options, including putting an annual cap on international students.