Trudeau Liberals introduce cap on foreign students

Immigration Minister Marc Miller estimates that Canada has nearly 807,000 foreign students. But Department of Immigration estimates conclude there are 1,028,850 study permit holders as of last December — with over half studying in Ontario.

Trudeau Liberals introduce cap on foreign students
THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
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The Trudeau Liberals outlined a foreign student cap Monday amid a population explosion of their own making. Immigration Minister Marc Miller estimates that Canada has nearly 807,000 foreign students. 

But Department of Immigration estimates conclude there are 1,028,850 study permit holders as of last December — with over half studying in Ontario, reported the Globe and Mail. The number of foreign students in Canada has spiraled out of control in recent years, from 637,855 in 2019 to 807,260 in 2022.

"To ensure there is no further growth in the number of international students in Canada for 2024 we are setting a national application intake cap for a period of two years," he told reporters. 

"Does that mean there will be fewer students as of September or is that the increase will be slower?" asked a reporter. "The net intake will show a decrease of 35%," replied Miller.

The Department of Immigration didn’t release the cap’s legal text but said it "will be approximately a 50% reduction" in provinces like Ontario, according to Blacklock’s ReporterOn a province-by-province basis, 526,015 foreign students are in Ontario, 202,565 in British Columbia, and 117,925 in Québec.

Miller clarified the cap does not apply to foreign students completing their master's and/or PhD. "Those are people we are looking for," he added. It also does not apply to current study permit holders or those looking to extend their education.

Graduate students, and those practicing law, medicine and other notable professions will not face limitations to their significant other’s work permits, added Miller.

The minister did not mention during his address the regulation that permits foreign students to work unlimited full-time hours rather than 20 hours a week.

"We are currently examining options for this policy in the future," Miller earlier told reporters. He did not elaborate. "Our data shows us that 80% of international students work more than 20 hours a week," he said.

As reported by Blacklock’s Reporter, Statistics Canada data show the summer unemployment rate for Canadian postsecondary age jobseekers rose from 9.5% to 10.5% after the feds lifted the 20-hour cap. That regulation expires April 30.

Miller previously claimed that Canadians did not lose employment opportunities to foreign students. "I don’t think students are taking jobs away from other people given the labour shortages that are happening in Canada," he said. 

Neither the labour nor immigration department procured any research on the impact of permitting 807,000 foreign students to work unlimited full-time hours.

Last September, Immigration Canada reported 1,015,744 people with a valid study permit — over a third attended nearly 100 accredited institutions.

In November, StatsCan said one in five (19%) study permit holders had no record of studying at a Canadian college or university.

Immigration Canada spokesperson Isabelle Dubois said they "are undertaking a review of the International Student Program to […] address student vulnerability, unethical recruitment and non-genuine actors in the program."

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