Revised Canada Study Permit Requirements for Enhanced International Student Protection

On the auspicious date of December 7, 2023, Minister of Immigration Marc Miller took a momentous step in unveiling a comprehensive array of pivotal changes to the Study Permit requirements, all designed with the primary objective of ensuring the welfare and safeguarding the interests of international students in Canada. These transformative adjustments are set to take effect on January 1, 2024, ushering in a new era of enhanced financial preparedness for students pursuing their academic endeavors in the Great White North.

One of the key alterations unveiled by Minister Miller involves a substantial increase in the financial proof requirement for the study visa. This strategic move aims to ascertain that students possess the necessary financial means to sustain themselves throughout their stay in Canada. Beginning in 2024, this financial prerequisite will undergo annual adjustments based on the updates to the Low Income Cut-Off (LICO) by Statistics Canada. The LICO serves as a crucial benchmark, representing the minimum income essential to prevent an individual from allocating an above-average proportion of their income towards basic needs.

The financial threshold, which has remained unaltered since the early 2000s, initially standing at a modest thousand dollars per applicant, will witness a significant elevation to CAD$20,635 in 2024. This amount is calculated as 75% of the LICO and encompasses first-year expenses, including tuition and travel costs. The implementation of this change will be applicable to all new study permit applications submitted from January 1, 2024, onward.

In tandem with these financial reforms, a monumental shift in the International Student Program was announced on October 27, 2023. This transformative reform centers around the establishment of a novel framework aimed at recognizing and accrediting educational institutions that demonstrate a commitment to providing high-quality services and robust support systems, including accommodation options, for international students. The Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) now expects educational institutions to admit only a number of students they can adequately support, ensuring a holistic academic experience for each student. In the upcoming academic year, beginning September 2024, immigration authorities will contemplate the potential need to restrict the issuance of study permits to guarantee that designated institutions uphold their commitment to providing substantial support to students.

Furthermore, Minister Marc Miller also introduced noteworthy adjustments to three temporary policies set to expire at the conclusion of December 2023, showcasing the Canadian government’s commitment to adapt to the evolving needs of international students.

The first policy pertains to the expansion of off-campus work hours. The exemption from the 20-hour per week limit for off-campus work will be extended until April 30, 2024. International students in Canada and those who applied for study permits from December 7, 2023, onwards will have the opportunity to engage in off-campus work for more than the customary 20 hours per week until the specified date.

Another significant policy modification involves the recognition of online study periods toward the Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP). For students who commenced their studies before September 2024 and had a portion of their coursework conducted online, this adjustment allows them to count that period towards their PGWP eligibility.

However, it is crucial to note that the temporary policy extending the PGWP by 18 months is set to conclude on December 31, 2023, with no anticipated extension. This signifies the termination of the extension, emphasizing the government’s commitment to maintaining a balance between support for international students and ensuring the integrity of immigration policies.