As Canada opens up as a post-pandemic world with relaxed border restrictions, the Canadian government has been discussing implementing policies that would encourage more immigration to Canada, particularly with respect to attracting more international students

International Students and Canada

International students play a critical role in Canada’s economy and impact Canada’s role on the world stage. The number of international students who are pursuing education in Canada has increased drastically in the last 20 years. Since having a minor market share of less than 1% of international students in 2001, Canada has become one of the top four countries of choice for students seeking to study abroad. In 2021, over 600,000 foreign nationals held study permits in Canada. The impact on Canada’s economy cannot be overlooked either, as study permit holders have recently been granted the ability to work additional off-campus hours until the end of 2023.

The increase in international students arriving in Canada has coincided with a larger number of international students transitioning to permanent residency after the conclusion of their studies. In 2021, over 150,000 international students became permanent residents after their temporary residence student status expired, representing a fourfold increase in the number of international students who became permanent residents five years ago.

Report on International Students 

The Canadian House of Commons Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration examines matters relating to the management and operation of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (“IRCC”) and the Immigration and Refugee Board. The Committee also monitors the federal multiculturalism policy.

In May 2022, the Committee compiled a report titled “Differential Treatment in Recruitment and Acceptance Rates of Foreign Students in Quebec and in the Rest of Canada”, which made 35 recommendations to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada. 

The report focused on recruitment and acceptance rates of international students in both Quebec, and Canada as a whole. The report discussed how the government attracts, selects, and retains international students in Canada, and further commented on the reasons given for international student permit refusal and the potential causes for systemic differences in decisions by IRCC officials. Finally, the report gave recommendations for improving communication between the government, international students, and prospective international students. 

Since the report was published, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada has issued a response detailing how they intend to address the recommendations from the report. 

Attracting Foreign Students to Canada

Although the number of international students in Canada is already at an all-time high, the Canadian government is predicting that the number of international student study permit holders is set to increase in the coming years. It is predicted that next year, the number of study permit holders will continue to rise as more study permits will be granted. The report however was not only concerned with the volume of international students coming to Canada, but also which countries they are coming from. 

Based on the recommendations in the report, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada has agreed to make certain changes going forward in how international students are attracted to Canada. Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada firstly stated that they are working to expand the Student Direct Stream to more countries, which would allow for potential students from those countries to more efficiently obtain study permits. The areas noted for expansion of the program are Bangladesh, African countries, and specifically francophone nations.

Expansion of the Student Direct Stream for Francophone nations goes hand in hand with Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada committing to investigate the rates of study permit refusals for students who are destined for Quebec, and increasing the dialogue between Quebec and Canada when it comes to Immigration. 

Changes to Simplify the Immigration Process for International Students 

The Canadian government has committed to improving the overall immigration experience for International Students by simplifying parts of the application process, increasing efficiency in the application process, and ensuring transparency for international students requirements.

In response to the increased demand for student permits, the IRCC has hired approximately 500 additional processing staff. As application numbers continue to rise, the IRCC has indicated their plan to hire an additional 1,250 employees to increase processing capacity and reduce the application backlog. The government has also committed to modernizing the application review process which will, in turn, increase processing efficency. Monthly data is set to be published in order to keep applicants up to date on the backlog of applications.

The IRCC has committed to ensuring better communication between international students and immigration officials. The IRCC plans to continue working with Designated Learning Institutions to produce accurate data regarding international student enrolment and statuses. 

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada will be considering adding International Students to the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada Settlement Program, which would partially fund settlement services for international students who are on a path to permanent residence. Many students eventually become permanent residents through applications through the Canadian Experience Class Express Entry, therefore implemented changes will assist those applying for permanent residency. 

Report and Response Positive for International Students 

Overall, the response to the report and its recommendations appear to be providing positive news for international students. Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada has committed to making substantial changes to the immigration process including implementing the report recommendations in an effort to alleviate some of the stressors for international students who are interested in pursuing their education in Canada. 

Thinking of studying in Canada? Contact Garson Immigration Law for Assistance With Your Study Permit Application

At Garson Immigration Law we are exclusively dedicated to the practice of immigration law. Our team prides itself on providing clients with reliable advice on the Canadian immigration process. Our immigration lawyers work to find practical solutions to obtain the best possible outcome for clients involved in a variety of immigration matters. To speak with a member of our team about your immigration application, please reach out to us online or call us at 416-321-2860.

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