On January 22, 2024, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRRC) sent shock waves through the international student community by announcing a cap on student visas. Only 360,000 study permits will be issued for 2024. This 35% reduction in student visa approvals may endure through 2025.

For many, this drastic culling of application approvals, along with the elimination of work permits for undergraduate students and their spouses makes Canadian citizenship an impossible dream. Students acquiring a master’s degree can renew their current work permit, but it expires in three years, making it a challenge to find the work placements necessary to achieve completion.

Spouses of students will no longer receive temporary work permits at all, leaving many without financial support. The IRCC doubled the cost-of-living requirements for international students from $10,000 to $20,635 in December 2024.

Keep reading to find out more about the impact of these rulings by the IRRC and how it will affect you or a foreign student that you may know.

Why Did the Canadian Government Limit Student Visas?

According to the official IRRC announcement, Canada does not have the curriculums, housing, and other systems needed to support the current foreign students that have entered the country. The government blames “bad actors” in the university system that have exploited student visa approval system in order to rapidly increase their revenue.

According to a CTV broadcast featuring IRRC minister Paul Miller some institutions have lied to students, promising non-existent curriculums. Opportunists seeking citizenship with no intention of studying have also abused the system to the extent that is unsustainable.

Caps Are Different for Each Province or Territory

Approval for a 2024 student visa depends on where you choose to study. Currently there are 1000 designated learning institutions (DLI) in Canada and 529 of them are in Ontario. Foreign student populations are so large in urban centers that poverty, vagrancy and abandoned studies are the result.

Student visa approval will now be left up to each province to make sure that students do not encounter full classes. In order to be considered by a province, the student must attach an attestion letter to their application, as well as provide proof that they can pay the cost of living fee.

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