Education Expert Says Caps On Canada Study Permits A ‘Blunt Instrument’

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Newfoundland & Labrador Says Canada’s Study Permit Cap Ambiguous
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The president and CEO of the Canadian Bureau for International Education (CBIE) says capping study permit applications is a blunt measure that will not completely remove bad actors from preying on international students but will make Canada’s educational sector better in the long run.

“This is not the way we would have chosen to go about addressing these issues of sustainability,” acknowledged Larissa Bezo during a webinar organised by The PIE and Student VIP.

“But if we look at this from 50,000 feet, what these policy measures do is afford us an opportunity to be more strategic and intentional to ensure a sustainable approach for the long term.”

Immigration Minister Marc Miller’s cap on study permit applications handed out to international students is going to allow for only 606,250 study permit applications in the coming year.

“The intent of these Instructions is to ensure the number of study permit applications accepted into processing by the Department of Citizenship and Immigration … within the scope of the instructions does not exceed 606,250 study permit applications for one year beginning on the date of signature,” the Canada Gazette reported on Feb. 3.


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“As stipulated in these Instructions, certain categories of study permit applications are excluded from the conditions set out in these Instructions and the associated application cap established by these Instructions.”

The CBIE issued a statement in January expressing concern the cap on the number of international students might have serious unintended consequences.

“This hasty one-size-fits-all solution may jeopardize the benefits of international education that many communities across the country experience and rapidly unravel a strong global Canadian education brand that has taken years to build,” notes the CBIE on its website.

“A 35 per cent reduction in student visas is ultimately a signal to prospective international students around the world that Canada is closing its doors. These measures have the potential to cause irreparable harm to the EduCanada brand, and in a highly-globally competitive market, students may opt to choose other countries instead, well beyond the two-year duration of these measures.”


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The Canadian non-governmental organization dedicated exclusively to international education is worried that capping international study permits over concerns about housing and healthcare in Canada might erode the value of the international education sector in Canada.

Despite the challenges posed by capping study permits, Bezo remains optimistic about the future of international education in Canada.

“I’m convinced we’ll come out of this with an even stronger offer that will set us up to continue to be attractive internationally,” she said.

“Canada remains open. We are not closed to international students. That’s the last message we want to be going out.”

Five Groups Exempt From International Study Permit Caps

Exempt from this new cap on international study permits are those international students who already have study permits and are seeking to renew them and the family member of a temporary resident who already has either a work or study permit.

Also exempt from the cap on study permits are:

  • members of the armed forces of a country under the Visiting Forces Act, including a person who has been designated as a civilian component of those armed forces;
  • officers of a foreign governments sent, under exchange agreements between Canada and one or more countries, to take up duties with a federal or provincial agency;
  • participants in sports activities or events, in Canada, either as an individual participant or as a member of a foreign-based team or Canadian amateur team;
  • employees of foreign news companies reporting on events in Canada;
  • people responsible for assisting congregations or groups in the achievement of their spiritual goals and whose main duties are to preach doctrine, perform functions related to gatherings of their congregations or groups or provide spiritual counselling.

The cap on study permit applications is expected to reduce the number of study permits by more than a third, The Globe and Mail has reported

“The cap is expected to result in approximately 364,000 approved study permits, a decrease of 35 per cent from 2023,” the immigration minister has reportedly said. “In the spirit of fairness, we are also allocating the cap space by province, based on population.”

Under the cap on study permits, it is expected the provinces and territories will each have a limit on their ability to welcome new international students. The national newspaper reports those proposed limits will allow some provinces to increase their international student population while dramatically cutting it in other provinces, including Ontario.

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Colin Singer
Colin Singer is an international acclaimed Canadian immigration lawyer and founder of immigration.ca featured on Wikipedia. Colin Singer is also founding director of the Canadian Citizenship & Immigration Resource Center (CCIRC) Inc. He served as an Associate Editor of ‘Immigration Law Reporter’, the pre-eminent immigration law publication in Canada. He previously served as an executive member of the Canadian Bar Association’s Quebec and National Immigration Law Sections and is currently a member of the Canadian Chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association. Colin has twice appeared as an expert witness before Canada’s House of Commons Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration. He is frequently recognized as a recommended authority at national conferences sponsored by government and non-government organizations on matters affecting Canada’s immigration and human resource industries. Since 2009, Colin has been a Governor of the Quebec Bar Foundation a non-profit organization committed to the advancement of the profession, and became a lifetime member in 2018.