Canada to tighten the rules for incoming international students

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In an exclusive interview with CTV’s Question Period, Canada’s Immigration Minister Marc Miller disclosed that the government is contemplating the implementation of a cap on the number of international students in Canada. While Miller did not provide specific details on the extent of the reduction, he emphasized the need for a collaborative effort between federal and provincial governments to address the escalating volume of international students.

International students in Canada

Miller expressed concern about the burgeoning numbers of international students, stating, “It’s really a system that has gotten out of control.” He highlighted the necessity of engaging in discussions with provincial governments to ensure that provinces actively manage and regulate the influx of international students, particularly in regions where responsibilities have not been adequately fulfilled.

The move to consider a cap comes amidst criticism directed at the federal government for its increasing intake of immigrants, both permanent and temporary, exacerbating an acute housing shortage in the country. The federal government has faced warnings from public servants, as revealed in internal documents obtained through an access to information request, that ambitious immigration targets could jeopardize housing affordability.

The Liberal government has set ambitious immigration targets, aiming to welcome 485,000 immigrants in the current year, and 500,000 in both 2025 and 2026. Temporary residents, comprising international students and migrant workers, contribute significantly to the immigration equation, with over 300,000 arriving in Canada in just the third quarter of the previous year.

Miller acknowledged the need to address the issue promptly and mentioned that he will explore the possibility of setting a cap on international student numbers in the first and second quarters of this year. He stressed the importance of verifying offer letters and ensuring a system that guarantees the financial capability of individuals coming to Canada.

When questioned about the timing of considering a cap, Miller explained the necessity to first establish federal-level data before delving into specific details at the provincial and institutional levels. He also highlighted the diverse impact of a potential cap, asserting that it would not be a one-size-fits-all solution to housing shortages across the country.

Miller acknowledged the multifaceted nature of immigration targets, emphasizing that housing is just one aspect. He underscored the imperative to consider workforce demographics, aiming to bring down the average age of the workforce.

While Miller refrained from providing specific numbers regarding the potential reduction of international students, he assured that the federal government is actively considering the implementation of a cap. These considerations, according to Miller, will be subject to discussions around the negotiating table, taking into account the financial needs of academic institutions and the diverse impact on different provinces. The issue remains a focal point in ongoing deliberations concerning Canada’s immigration policies.

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