Canada To Limit International Students To Those With Deeper Pockets

Canadian policymakers are trying to get ahead of data that shows its fading appeal to international students. Today the Government of Canada (GoC) announced new measures to restrict the number of permits. Starting next year, applicants will have to show twice as much cash reserved for their cost of living. The Minister of Immigration fell short of placing any real caps, but threatened them despite the sharp drop in study permit applications. 

Canada Will Double The Minimum Funds Required For A Study Permit

There’s no shortage of social media posts highlighting the living conditions of international students. There’s videos showing the tent cities they’ve set up, and shelters are increasingly stating students are becoming a greater share of their residents. While students have always been required to show income before arriving, the amount required for entry hasn’t been updated in decades. 

The Minister plans to change that by adopting more frequent updates to the model. Students are only required to show $10,000 in funds when applying for a study permit, an amount set in 2000. The latest update would see the amount tied to the low-income cut off (LICO), the minimum amount needed to ensure a person can afford shelter. As of 2024, a student would require a minimum of $20.6k in cost of living funds, 75% of the LICO.  

Not a limit on students per se, but more than doubling the minimum will provide some hurdles. It’s roughly 4x the annual median income in India, Canada’s largest source of international students. It’s about double the median income of Nigeria, one of the fastest growing sources of study permit applications since Indian students began to look elsewhere. 

Canada Is Threatening To Cap Visas Despite Falling Applications

There weren’t many other firm announcements, but they reiterated some new measures. Canada will now verify student enrollment before issuing a permit, and we’re just going to gloss over what they’re implying they previously did (or didn’t do). Schools that demonstrate they have prioritized resources for students will receive preferential treatment when it comes to visa processing. 

The Minister stopped short of actually placing any firm limits on visas. Instead, they opted to repeat their threat of limiting permits if schools don’t correct their own behavior. Sound a little hollow? That’s because it was. 

Canada has already seen a sharp drop in study permit applications. The most recent data shows study permit applications fell 20% in September, with its largest source falling a whopping 40% from last year. The situation echoes the foreign buyer ban, which was announced after foreign investors had already begun to sink their capital elsewhere.