Canada’s International Student Visa Cap Stokes Mixed Reactions

Canada’s International Student Visa Cap Stokes Mixed Reactions

Canada’s decision to cap the international student visas is expected to significantly decrease the total number of permits by 35%

Lavanya AhireUpdated: Monday, January 29, 2024, 10:35 AM IST
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Canada’s International Student Visa Cap Stokes Mixed Reactions | File Pic

Officials of educational institutions and career counsellors shared mixed reactions to Canada’s recent announcement of capping the total number of international students for two years due to the intensified housing crisis in the country. While most agree that the changes may help control the housing crisis, some have criticised it on other grounds.

“The limits suggested are misdirected and don’t solve the housing crisis or address the employment-matching problem”, Akshay Chaturvedi, the founder and CEO of Leverage Edu said. 

“I see this as a political decision rather than a structured-for-economy one”, Chaturvedi added. 

Pranav Pande, a student recruitment advisor for the University of Windsor, agreed. “The rapid changes in policy might be due to an unstable government which is looking to please the masses”, Pande commented. The immigration office, in a bid to curb the housing crisis, has mandated an attestation letter from the provincial government of the university attached to the study permit without a proper facility for the province to issue these letters. 

Impact students from tier two and tier three cities

The department, in a press release, added, “Provinces and territories are expected to establish a process for issuing attestation letters to students by no later than March 31, 2024.” This would cause a delay in the student permit process.

Manisha Zaveri, the joint managing director of Career Mosaic, believes that this move had the potential to impact students from tier two and tier three cities. 

“The challenge lies in striking a delicate balance that ensures quality education without overly restricting opportunities”, she added.

Some universities have welcomed the decision

On the other hand, some universities have welcomed the decision with open arms.

“We are maintaining a self-imposed cap on the number of students we are taking from any region, to maintain diversity”, Aditya Bhati, the regional director for Camosun College said, explaining that their entry requirements are higher than the average and that they ensure that their regional officers are spread out to get a diverse range of applicants. 

Bhati also said that this change would affect the institutions outside the 35 trusted institutions which have been rampantly accepting students into the country. 

Saurabh Arora, the CEO of University Living, which is a popular student accommodation service platform said, “Implementing this cap may present short-to-medium-term challenges for students. Yet, when seen in the broader context, it promises a fair opportunity for those genuinely seeking high-quality education.” 

Arora believes that this change will alleviate the strain on Canada’s limited housing and job market and will impact institutions under private-public partnerships.

Pande also pointed out that this system of filtration would prioritise students enrolled in four-year graduation programmes over students who come to the country for one or two-year diploma or certification courses under universities with private-public partnerships to ensure commitment.

This change comes amid Canada’s rapid modifications to its international students policies as an answer to the growing resentment about a tight housing and job market in the country. The country has seen a sharp drop in study permits meted out by the government with Immigration Minister Marc Miller admitting that he doesn't see the number of study permits given to Indians rebound soon.

Expect more student drop-offs

Chaturvedi said, “I expect big drop-offs because the post-study work visa is a big factor for Indian students choosing a country or college or programme, and a vast majority of private institutions will now not be able to give students that.” 

He believes that the U.S. will likely use this to amass back the lead in the number of international students it has started to lose in the last decade.

The immigration department also said that graduates of master’s and other short graduate-level programmes will soon be eligible for a three-year work permit. The department added that open work permits will only be given to spouses of international students in master’s and doctoral programmes and the spouses of international students in undergraduate and college programmes will no longer be eligible.

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