Study Permit Caps ‘Unfairly Target Manitoba Colleges’

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Private colleges in Manitoba say Canada’s cap on study permits will cost them all of their international students.

They say the province is being unfairly targeted in the wake of Immigration Minister Marc Miller’s cap on applications.

“It’s unfortunate that this situation got to the point where the Government of Canada felt it necessary to use a blunt instrument across the entire country,” Mark Frison, president and CEO of Assiniboine Community College, reportedly told CBC News.

“Certainly, the challenges that we see and saw in places like Ontario have been complicated and I know really required the government of Canada to intervene. But things were working very well here.”

Manitoba has yet to release the final numbers of how many international students will be allowed to attend each college and university in the province this year.

Ottawa’s limits on study permits is projected to reduce the number of study permits to Ontario by 41 per cent, to British Columbia by 18 per cent and to Alberta, Quebec and Saskatchewan by 10 per cent.

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The president of Assiniboine Community College believes Manitoba is going to prioritize the distribution of its study permits to public colleges and universities.

“They’ve … given us some permits in order to keep things going so that we’re prepared in the fall,” he reportedly said. “[With] this latest announcement …there’ll be an opportunity for them to look at how they finalize those allocations.”

But some private institutions say they’re poised to lose all their international students because of the cap.

At the Heartland International English School, just under a third of all students are foreign nationals but the private language school with locations in Winnipeg and Mississauga hasn’t been allotted any attestation letters, a requirement for foreign nationals to apply for study permits there.

“The federal government’s rationale that [international students are] impacting housing and the labour force really doesn’t apply to language programs,” Gary Gervais, the school’s president, has reportedly said.

“Many of our students stay in home-stays and don’t create stress on housing and also, they’re not allowed to work. So it doesn’t create any labour issues.”

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Under new regulations, new post-secondary international students at the college or undergraduate level must now submit a provincial attestation letter with a corresponding letter of acceptance from a post-secondary institution when applying for an international study permit.

Canada’s immigration minister Marc Miller slapped a cap of 606,250 study permit applications for the coming year for new international students earlier this year in an attempt to reduce the number of temporary residents in the country as Ottawa faces criticism over a lack of affordable housing.

The Globe and Mail reported that cap on study permit applications would likely mean a drop of 35 per cent study permits compared to last year but the actual drop is now expected to be much higher, closer to 40 per cent.

Many International Students Exempt From Study Permit Application Cap

Seven categories of international students, however, are exempt from the cap on study permit applications.

“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.”

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.

Throughout Canada, colleges and universities have expressed concern over the cap on study permit applications, saying it sends the wrong signal to international students.

President and CEO of the Canadian Bureau for International Education (CBIE) Larissa Bezo said in a webinar organised by The PIE and Student VIP that the cap on study permits is not the way her organizations would have chosen to proceed to address the housing issue.

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.

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