The beginning of this year saw a lot of changes around the eligibility criteria for international students who wish to study in Canada. These 2024 Canada student visa rules have been surprising to many people and troubling to others. This is because some of the rules like those concerning financial requirements will greatly affect the travel plans of some aspiring students. However, the IRCC has stated that some of these changes are temporary. But that does not offer much hope to the impacted persons who already made plans to travel to Canada for studies this year.
Be that as it may, the authorities have made the rules and they believe they will benefit both the country and aspiring international students. Hence, it is best to acquaint yourself with these new rules and prepare accordingly to avoid getting denied a study permit. This article reveals the important recent changes around studying in Canada and the impact it may have on student visa applications.
5 Important 2024 Canada Student Visa Rules
1. Federal Cap on International Student Intake
On the 22nd of January 2024, Honourable Marc Miller, the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship announced that for the next two years, Canada will set a cap on the acceptance of international student permit applications. For 2024, the country will approve only about 360,000 study permits, which is 35% less than the approval rate for 2023. The cap for 2025 will be revealed by the end of 2024.
Although this measure may seem unfavourable to international students who strongly desire to study in Canada, it is for the long-term benefit of Canada as it is for international students. This new policy aims to stabilise the number of international students in the country. Hence, ensuring sustainable population growth.
To effectively implement this, IRCC will allocate the 360,000 cap to each province and territory. Provinces with the most unsustainable population growth will experience the most decrease. The provinces will in turn distribute the allocation to designated learning institutions accordingly.
Not All International Students Will Be Impacted By the Cap
International students applying for undergraduate programs in Canada may have to worry the most about the new cap. However, the policy does not affect those applying for master’s and doctoral degrees, and elementary and secondary education. Also, those who need to renew their study permit have nothing to worry about. Same with current study permit holders.
Similarly, language students do not have to worry about the cap. Since their program is less than six months, they typically do not require a study permit. So this does not affect them. Also, they do not need a provincial attestation letter to be able to study in Canada.
2. Provincial Attestation Letter (PAL) Requirement
Accompanying the cap on study permits for international students is the implementation of a provincial attestation letter (PAL) as part of the new requirements for Canada student visas. This means that as part of the 2024 Canada student visa rules, any study permit application submitted after 8:30 a.m. EST on January 22, 2024, should come with a provincial attestation letter from the province or territory where you intend to study.
In this regard, provinces and territories are working on a plan for issuing PALs. Every province is expected to finalize that by March 31, 2024. For Quebec, the goverment is working to see how certificat d’acceptation du Québec pour études can serve as a PAL.
Not Everyone Needs a Provincial Attestation Letter (PAL)
Just like with the cap, not every international student needs a PAL.
You Need a PAL if you are:
- A post-secondary study permit applicant
- Applying for a non-degree granting graduate program (e.g, certificate programs and graduate diplomas)
- An international student who does not fit into the exemption list below
You Do Not Need a PAL if you are:
- Applying for primary or secondary school studies
- A master’s or doctoral degree student
- A visiting or exchange students
- An in-Canada study permit and work permit holder (includes study permit holders applying for an extension)
- An in-Canada family member of a study permit or work permit holder
- A part of the applicants who sent their application before 8:30 a.m. ET on January 22, 2024
3. Changes to Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) Program
The IRCC has adjusted the PGWP program to impact both graduates of master’s degree-granting programs and students of public-private partnership college programs.
Update For Master’s Degree Programs
From February 15, 2024 graduates of master’s degree programs that are less than 2 years will start to enjoy the privilege of a 3-year post-graduation work permit. However, they must meet all other PGWP eligibility criteria to qualify for this. For other programs that are not master’s degrees, the length of the PGWP will align with the length of study to a maximum of 3 years.
The Canadian government hopes that this change will provide the master’s graduate with enough time to excel in the labour market and transition to permanent residency. Hence helping the country gain more graduates with in-demand skills while also helping international students achieve their goal of Canadian PR.
Update For Public-Private Partnership College Programs
If you are on a public-private partnership college program, this means that you are physically attending a private college, but will graduate with a diploma from an affiliate public college. The Canadian government has registered concerns about the quality of education that these affiliate private colleges provide. Hence, as part of the 2024 Canada student visa rules, graduates from these schools will no longer be eligible for PGWPs. The government hopes that this policy will deter international students from applying to such colleges.
However, students who are already enrolled as of the time of this policy change will remain eligible for PGWP so long as they meet other criteria. The restriction will apply to new students who enrol after the policy change.
4. Changes to Spousal Work Permit Eligibility
The Canadian government has limited the eligibility for an open work permit to spouses and common-law partners of students in graduate (master’s and doctorate) and professional degree-granting programs only. Other spouses and common-law partners of international students who seek to extend their existing work permits are also eligible.
Conversely, the spouses and common-law partners of international students in other levels of study such as undergraduate and college programs will no longer be eligible for open work permits. However, exemptions are granted to those who already hold work permits before the implementation of these policies.
5. Increased Financial Requirement for International Students
Previously, to secure an international student visa Canada, you needed to show a $10,000 proof of funds. However, the Canadian authority announced that from January 1, 2024, this cost of living requirement will increase to $20,635. This fund is the amount the IRCC calculates as the expected cost of living for international students.
Although you need to show this proof of funds before you get a student visa, you do not have to pay the money to anyone. It only remains in your account as proof that you can take care of your living costs while in Canada. Based on this, the government said that the new amount was to reflect the true cost of living in Canada. Hence, preventing international students from struggling when they arrive in the country.
Despite the increase in the cost of living requirement, Quebec has a much lower minimum requirement of $15,078. Similarly, international students under the age of 18 only need to show a minimum of about $7,541 as proof of funds.
Impact of New Rules on Canada Student Visa Applications
The overall goal of the changes made by the Canadian Government is to ensure the optimum functionality of the country. While also protecting the interest of international students. Also, some of these changes such as the cap on study permits are temporary according to authorities. Nonetheless, some of these Canada study permit changes 2024 will have uncomfortable or positive impacts on potential international students. Let’s take a look at some of these possible effects.
Impact of Federal Cap on International Student Intake
Without a doubt, the cap on study permit approval will result in high competition among applicants, especially undergraduates. This is because there is now a 35% reduction in the opportunities available to international students, especially undergraduates. As a result, schools would prefer to choose their best applicants. Hence, leaving out students who probably would have stood a chance before the new policies.
Impact of Increased Financial Requirement on International Students
Although this might be an uncomfortable change in the beginning for international student who were already preparing a $10,000 proof of fund, it will be to their benefit in the long run. The $10,000 requirement was set years ago and there has been no revision since then despite the rise in cost of living over the years. Hence, the amount does not reflect Canada’s current cost of living. As a result, there have been reports of international students who struggle after they arrive in Canada. This new rule will help these students plan their finances better and not have to deal with financial crises in the country.
Impact of Changes to the PGWP Program on International Students
The changes in the Post Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) are in favour of master’s students, but not students of public-private partnership college programs. Hence, students who are yet to apply to schools will most likely avoid public-private partnership colleges. Thereby, achieving the government’s aim of boycotting such schools due to the poor quality of training they offer.
Also, the policy will offer international master’s students more time to gain adequate work experience. Hence, increasing their chances of achieving permanent residency. On the other hand, Canada will retain more skilled hands in various industries and may experience a potential positive economic impact.
Understanding the 2024 Canada student visa rules is vital for making study plans or necessary adjustments as the case may be. For instance, it would be unwise to apply to a public-private partnership college seeing that the new rule does not favour students who graduate from such schools. Also, it helps you plan your finances accordingly so that you do not receive a rejection due to insufficient proof of funds. No doubt these changes may cause inconveniences, but they may be beneficial in the long run. So, rather than get upset about them, learn and understand them to increase your chances of attaining your study goals.