Canada has decided to reduce the annual student intake for the current year by 35% to about 3.60 lakh approved study permits. Canada’s Immigration Minister Marc Miller said this is a temporary policy for two years. The number of new study permit applications it would accept in 2025 would be reassessed at the end of this year.
India is the largest source country for overseas students in Canada, according to the high commission in Ottawa. Currently, about 2.30 lakh Indian students are enrolled in various courses in the country. The Canada government’s move to cap the number of overseas students and a rise in cost of living may now make Indian students weigh Canada against other options such as the UK, US and Australia.
Students will also not be able to freely choose colleges. Ottawa has established territorial caps. As of Monday, every study permit application will also require an attestation letter from a province or territory, which are expected to establish a process for the purpose before March 31. So far, Ontario and British Columbia have been the favored destinations.
The new proposals also set limits on issue of post-graduate work permits to overseas students. This is aimed at encouraging them to return to their countries. Earlier, these permits were seen as an easy way to get permanent residency in Canada. Now, those pursuing Master’s or Post-Doctorate programmes will be eligible for a three-year work permit. Those admitted under a curriculum licensing arrangement will no longer be eligible for post-graduate work permits.
Open work permits will now be available only to spouses of overseas students pursuing Master’s or doctoral programs. The spouses of undergraduate and college students will no longer be eligible. Student permit applications now require a new document – a letter of attestation from a Canadian province confirming its capacity to accommodate the applicant.
According to last year’s data from Ministry of External Affairs, over 2 lakh students headed to Canada, the US and the UAE. Australia and the UK were preferred destinations too, attracting about 90,000 and 50,000 students, respectively.
Ties between India and Canada have nosedived after Trudeau accused the role of Indian government agents in the killing of Khalistani terrorist Hardeep Singh Nijjar in British Columbia. Indian has trashed the allegations, calling them absurd and motivated.
“Right now we have a challenge with the sheer volume of students coming in. It’s just gotten out of control and needs to be reduced – I would say – significantly over a short period of time,” Canadian minister Miller said.