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Canada Introduces Significant Temporary Cap For International Students And Fresh Guidelines

Canada Introduces Significant Temporary Cap For International Students And Fresh Guidelines For The Post-Graduation Work Permit Program

A temporary two-year cap on new international student permits was announced by the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) which takes effect instantly, new guidelines under the Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) Program, and restrictions for spouses of students.

According to the Minister, Canada will cap the number of approved study permits for international students in 2024 at 360,000 – a decrease of 35% from 2023. Later this year, the 2025 cap will be determined. There is a strong possibility that international students may face hurdles to the study permit process and be able to study in Canada due to this restrictive cap.

Additional requirements for study permit applications

Every study permit application submitted to IRCC from January 22, 2024, will require an attestation letter issued by that institution’s province or territory. The Canadian government has set a deadline of March 2024 for provinces and territories to establish a process for issuing attestation letters to students.

The cap will not apply to current study permit holders seeking to renew their permit. Additionally, students applying to study at the primary or secondary level or master’s and PhD programs in Canada will be exempt from the cap.

New guidelines for the Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) program and restrictions for spouses of students

Commencing September 1, 2024, international students who begin a study program that is part of a “curriculum licensing arrangement” (where students physically attend a private college that is licensed to deliver the curriculum of a public college) will no longer be eligible for a PGWP upon graduation. Currently, this restriction does not exist.

Work permit restriction for spouses of international students

Weeks ahead from now (the exact date is yet to be announced), open work permits (which typically allow holders to work anywhere in Canada) will only be available to spouses of international students in master’s and doctoral programs and will no longer be available to spouses of students in other levels of study like undergraduate and college programs, as is the current case. However, existing spousal work permit holders will be able to apply to renew their work permits, if eligible. Affected spouses of international students will also need to find other available pathways to work in Canada during their stay.

Extension of PGWP for graduates of master’s programs 

Graduates of master’s and other short graduate-level programs will be eligible to apply for a PGWP valid for up to three years, starting soon (the exact date is yet to be announced). Currently, these permits are issued with a validity proportionate to the length of the study program.

For more information on the PGWP immigration news in Canada, please contact us for a free consultation.

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