Canada will stabilize growth and reduce the number of study

Canada will stabilize growth and reduce the number of study permits issued to international students to around 360,000 by 2024 –

January 22, 2024 – Ottawa – International students enrich our communities and are an integral part of Canada's social, cultural and economic fabric. In recent years, the integrity of the international student system has been called into question. Some institutions have greatly increased their number of international students to increase their revenue, and more and more students are coming to Canada without receiving the support they need to succeed. The rapid increase in the number of international students in Canada has also put pressure on housing, healthcare and other services. As we work to better protect international students from malicious actors and support sustainable population growth in Canada, the government is taking action to stabilize the number of international students in Canada.

The Honorable Marc Miller, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, today announced that the Government of Canada will implement a nationwide cap on the receipt of study permit applications to stabilize new growth over a two-year period. The cap is expected to result in the approval of approximately 360,000 study permits in 2024, a 35% decrease compared to 2023. As a matter of equity, provincial and territorial caps were set based on population size. Significantly larger declines occurred in the provinces where the international student population experienced the most unsustainable growth. This measure will have no impact on the renewal of the study permit. Master's and doctoral students as well as primary and secondary school students are not affected by this upper limit. Holders of a current study permit are not affected by these measures.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) will allocate a portion of the limited number of applications to individual provinces and territories, which will then distribute the allotted number among their assigned educational institutions. To implement the cap, from January 22, 2024, every study permit application submitted to IRCC must be accompanied by a letter of certification from the relevant province or territory. Provinces and territories must establish a process for issuing certification letters to students by March 31, 2024.

These temporary measures will apply for two years and the number of new study permit applications accepted in 2025 will be reassessed at the end of this year. During this time, the Government of Canada will continue to work with provinces and territories, designated educational institutions and national education stakeholders to develop a viable path forward for students, including finalizing the Recognized Institutions Framework, establishing sustainable long-term levels of international students and ensuring that post-secondary institutions are able to provide an adequate level of student accommodation.

To better position the Post-Graduation Work Permit Program, we are also changing the admission criteria:

  • From September 1, 2024, international students who begin a study program that is part of a curriculum usage agreement will no longer be eligible for a post-graduation work permit after completing their studies. Under curriculum usage agreements, students physically attend a private college that has been authorized to offer the curriculum of an affiliated public college. These programs have seen significant growth in attracting international students in recent years, despite being subject to less scrutiny than public colleges and exploiting an eligibility gap to obtain post-graduation work permits.
  • Graduates of master's programs will soon be able to apply for a work permit valid for three years. Under current criteria, the length of a post-graduation work permit is based solely on the length of a person's study program, which harms graduates of master's programs by limiting the time they have to acquire skills, work experience and ultimately transition to permanent residency is available.

In the coming weeks, only the spouse of a foreign student pursuing a master's or doctoral degree will have access to an open work permit. The spouse of an international student at another level of education, including a college or bachelor's degree program, is no longer eligible.

The important measures announced today complement other recently announced reforms to the International Student Program. Together, they want to ensure that genuine students receive the support they need and have the resources they need to have an enriching study experience in Canada, while reducing the overall number of students arriving in the country and easing pressure on housing and healthcare will and other services in Canada.