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Canada’s New Requirements For International Students

Requirements For International Students

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Canada is a premier choice for international students due to its top-notch educational institutions, inclusive society, and prospects for post-graduation work or permanent immigration. Despite the positive contributions of international students to campuses and innovation, they need help securing adequate housing during their studies in Canada.

The Honourable Marc Miller, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, declared on December 7, 2023, that starting January 1, 2024, the cost-of-living financial requirement for study permit applicants will be elevated to ensure their financial readiness for life in Canada. 

This requirement will be annually adjusted based on Statistics Canada’s updates to the low-income cut-off (LICO), representing the minimum income needed to maintain a balanced standard of living.

Notably, the cost-of-living requirement for study permit applicants has remained stagnant since the early 2000s, causing financial misalignment with the rising cost of living. 

In 2024, a single applicant must demonstrate $20,635, 75% of LICO, in addition to the first year’s tuition and travel costs. This change applies to new study permit applications from January 1, 2024.

Acknowledging potential impacts, the government plans to target pilots in collaboration with partners to assist underrepresented groups of international students. This announcement aligns with previous reforms on October 27, 2023, emphasizing quality services and support from learning institutions, including housing.

Ahead of the September 2024 semester, measures, including visa limitations, may be imposed to ensure institutions offer adequate student support.  Collaboration with provincial and territorial governments, learning institutions, and education stakeholders is vital to set international students on the path to success in Canada. Minister Miller also updated three temporary policies for international students that expire at the end of 2023.

  • The extension of the waiver on the 20-hour-per-week limit for off-campus work for international students during class sessions is now in effect until April 30, 2024. 
  • Both current international students in Canada and applicants who submitted a study permit application by December 7, 2023, can work more than 20 hours per week until the specified date. 
  • While exploring future options, authorities are considering allowing international students to work up to 30 hours per week off campus during classes.
  • Furthermore, the measure permitting international students to include online study time in calculating a future post-graduation work permit, as long as it comprises less than 50% of the program, will persist for students starting a study program before September 1, 2024. However, this provision will no longer apply to those commencing studies on or after that date. 
  • Initially introduced in 2020 due to pandemic-related travel restrictions, these distance learning facilitation measures were scaled down in September 2022. Currently, the majority of international students are attending in-person classes in Canada.
  • In response to pandemic-related and post-pandemic recovery labor market disruptions, a temporary policy granting an additional 18-month work permit to post-graduation work permit holders was introduced three times as their initial permit expires. 
  • Eligibility for this policy extends to those with permits expiring up to December 31, 2023. However, it is important to note that this temporary policy will not be extended beyond this point.

International education contributes over $22 billion annually to Canada’s economy, surpassing the economic impact of exports like auto parts, lumber, or aircraft and sustaining over 200,000 jobs there. A distinct cost-of-living threshold for international students attending Quebec’s learning institutions is established and consistently adjusted in Quebec.

These updated financial guidelines are extended to the Student Direct Stream, a specialized study permit application process designed for residents of 14 countries. This stream demands additional upfront information from applicants but prioritizes expedited processing.

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