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HomeCANADAFederal Government to Suspend Study Permit Processing for Non-Compliant Post-Secondary Institutions

Federal Government to Suspend Study Permit Processing for Non-Compliant Post-Secondary Institutions

July 10: The federal government plans to halt the processing of study permits for post-secondary students if educational institutions fail to track the enrolment status of international students.

The proposed regulations would mandate colleges and universities to report to the federal Immigration Department on whether a student is attending school and adhering to all study permit requirements. This move aims to restore confidence in Canada’s international student program.

According to the plan detailed in the Canada Gazette, students must also apply for a new study permit whenever they switch schools, and before starting a new program. The federal government is asserting its authority to ensure compliance, despite education governance falling under provincial jurisdiction.

The Immigration Department manages the entry of international students, sets the conditions for study permit holders, and decides on the issuance of study permits. While Ottawa only grants study permits to “designated learning institutions,” provinces designate whether a college or university is authorized to admit international students. Consequently, federal officials face challenges monitoring students after they enter Canada, as they lack information on whether students are enrolled in the designated schools or actively studying until they need to extend their permits or apply for postgraduation work permits.

“The regulatory amendments would allow IRCC (Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada) to effectively address integrity challenges and combat unethical behaviours that undermine the program,” stated a recent government notice for public consultation.

In 2023, Canada welcomed over one million study permit holders, compared to 352,305 in 2015. The rapidly growing international student program has faced scrutiny amid aggressive recruiting by the post-secondary sector and unregulated foreign agents, with many migrants viewing studying in Canada as a pathway to working and obtaining permanent residence.

International students have been blamed for Canada’s housing crisis, healthcare shortages, and social tensions, prompting Immigration Minister Marc Miller to introduce a two-year cap on new study permits. The proposed changes aim to establish a “trusted institution framework” to vet designated learning institutions and expedite study permit processing from “trusted” schools, incentivizing responsible student admissions.

Immigration officials noted that the amendments would provide tools to ensure only “genuine” colleges and universities are eligible for study permits and to enforce compliance. Designated learning institutions would have 10 days to respond to requests to confirm a student’s acceptance and 60 days to file a compliance report on each student’s enrolment status.

Officers could conduct random checks or request information if they suspect a letter of acceptance was improperly issued or if a school has not complied with conditions in the past. The immigration minister would make final decisions on placing schools on a suspension list, which would be published. Non-compliant institutions could be listed for up to 12 months, during which all study permit applications to those schools would be returned to the applicants.

The government said the proposed changes result from extensive consultation, though provincial counterparts have expressed mixed reactions, concerned about federal authority encroaching on their education mandate. The changes are estimated to cost nearly $87 million over 10 years, covering government implementation, costs to designated learning institutions, and costs to study permit holders wishing to change schools.

Additionally, the regulatory amendments propose increasing the weekly off-campus work hours for international students from 20 to 24 hours, as previously announced by Minister Miller, to help students offset rising living costs. The public has until July 29 to comment on the proposed changes.

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