What Does the New Canadian Immigration Laws Mean for International Students?

Canada is a country with a large intake of international students. Students from all over the world migrate to Canada on study permits due to its top-quality educational system, state-of-the-art facilities, and safe and conducive learning environment.

On the 7th of December 2023, the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, Honourable Marc Miller, announced a series of changes in Immigration laws and policies for international students. The reforms made by the Canadian government are intended to protect the students welfare, but has however stirred up some controversy and concerns from current students and prospective students. 

A brief summary of the new Canadian immigration laws for international students are as follows:

  • Minimum fund requirement for international students applying for a study permit in Canada will now be CAN$20,635.
  • International students will be allowed  to work more than 20 hours per week until 30 April 2024.
  • Online study will count for Post Graduate Work Permit until September 2024.
  • From 2024, extension of Post Graduate Work Permit will be discontinued.

Law on Financial Requirement

To meet up with the increasing financial demand for life in Canada, the Honourable Marc Miller announced that the financial requirement for study permit applicants will be increased to CA$20,635. This amount is non-inclusive of the tuition fee and travel expenses. 

So every student is expected to have at least CA$20,635 in addition to their tuition fee and travel costs. The stipulated amount of CA$20,635 is basically meant to cover the cost of feeding, accomodation, transport and other necessities.

Previously, international students were required to have a minimum of CA$10,000 in their bank account over a period of time as proof of financial sustainability. But now, students are required to have over twice of that amount as proof of funds to study in Canada.

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The Minister disclosed that this development was made to ensure that students will be able to meet up with the financial demands of living in Canada and so that they don’t have to spend an enormous portion of their income on basic necessities.

It has been over ten years since the cost of living financial requirements for international students was fixed at CA$10,000, and since then, no changes has been made in that regard even though there has been a spike in the cost of living between then and now. Hence, it has become imperative for the Canadian government to review the financial requirements to ensure the comfort of foreign students and protect them from exploitation.

The new amount of CA$20,635 represents 75% of the Low Income Cut-Off, otherwise known as LICO. LICO, as defined by economists, is the minimum income needed to ensure that an individual does not have to spend a greater than average portion of income on necessities.

Therefore, any student applying to Canada for a study permit on or after January 1, 2024 must have CA$20,635 in addition to their tuition fees and travel expenses.

New Canadian Immigration Laws

The recent reforms by the Canadian government has also placed a demand on the designated learning institutions to provide quality services and cater for the students by assisting them in getting an accomodation. To achieve this, learning institutions are to only accept the number of students that they can adequately support.

“International students provide significant cultural, social and economic benefits to their communities, but they have also faced challenges navigating life in Canada. We are revising the cost-of-living threshold so that international students understand the true cost of living here. This measure is key to their success in Canada. We are also exploring options to ensure that students find adequate housing. These long-overdue changes will protect international students from financially vulnerable situations and exploitation.”

~ Honourable Marc Miller.

The Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada further stated that they would be implementing necessary measures, including limiting student visas to ensure that the students accepted are the students that can be sufficiently catered for and supported.

Law on Work Hours Per Week for Students

The Minister also made an update regarding the temporal policy of waiving the 20 work hours per week limit for international students. The recent reform holds that students can work for over 20 hours per week up until 30 April 2024. 

This means that international students currently in Canada as well as those who have applied for a study permit as at December 7, 2023 will be allowed to work for more than 20 hours per week from now till 30 April 2024. After that date, the work hours limit for students will be adjusted back or increased to 30 hours per week. 

This is particularly good news to students who may be perhaps worried about how to raise the extra $10,000 added to the financial requirement. Since international students are still allowed to work for unlimited work hours per week, they will be able to earn some income before the date elapses.

Law on Post Graduate Work Permit for Online Students

Due to the global pandemic in 2020, a policy was introduced to support distance learning in Canada. International students were allowed to count time spent studying online towards the length of a future post-graduation work permit, on the condition that the online study time was less than 50% of the program of study. 

Now, the latest Canadian immigration law only allows this for students who begin a study program before September 1, 2024. 

This means that from September 1, 2024, international students learning online will not count for post graduate work permit. If they wish to work in Canada, they will need to use other means to gain legitimate entry clearance for work purposes.

Law on Extension of Post Graduate Work Permit

As a result of shortage of workers and labourers during the pandemic, a temporary policy was introduced on three different occasions to allow students to extend their post-graduate work permit for a period of 18 months upon expiry. 

The new policy is that foreign nationals whose post-graduate work permit will expire on or before 31 December 2023 are eligible to apply for an extension. However, going forward, there will be no more extension of post-graduate work permit for any individual, as that privilege will come to a halt this year.

Change is a constant phenomenon in life. While the Canadian government will continuously review its immigration laws over time, it is necessary to keep abreast with the latest information to enable you make an informed decision. The new policy on the financial requirements means you need to save some extra funds to ensure that you study comfortably without having worries and anxiety over your upkeep. The other three laws are an update on some temporary policies that were initiated in 2020 to curb the effects of the pandemic.


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