Canada to Cap Foreign Student Permits Amid Housing Crisis

Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

Canada announced on Monday an immediate two-year ban on international student visas, as well as a moratorium on work permits for select students after graduation, in an effort to reduce the record number of arrivals who are aggravating the housing situation.

The cap is likely to result in around 360,000 authorized study permits in 2024, a 35% fall from 2023, according to an immigration ministry statement.

Immigration Minister Marc Miller stated that the federal government will collaborate with the provinces, which manage the educational system, to implement the cap.

He stated that the cap is primarily intended to protect students attending colleges, which are frequently private-public partnerships that deliver inadequate services at excessive fees, as well as to alleviate strain on housing and services.

“Some private institutions have taken advantage of international students by operating under-resourced campuses, lacking supports for students and charging high tuition fees, all the while significantly increasing their intake of international students,” Miller said in a press release.

“This increase is also putting pressure on housing, healthcare, and other services,” he added, adding that having fewer people would largely help cut rent prices.

Rapid population increase, spurred by immigration, has put pressure on services such as healthcare and education, as well as contributed to rising housing costs. These issues have weighed on Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s standing, with polls indicating that he would lose an election if one were conducted now.

In the third quarter of last year, the population grew at its quickest rate in more than six decades, with non-permanent residents – largely students – increasing by 312,758, the highest increase in over five decades.

The Canadian Alliance of Student Associations (CASA), a student advocacy organization, protested the cap.

“The biggest problem is that… there’s been announced a cap as a reaction to the housing crisis,” said Mateusz Salmassi, CASA Director of Advocacy, adding that greater help and housing for international students are required.

The University of Toronto welcomed the announcement and stated that it will collaborate with all levels of government on the allotment of study permits.

The reforms are “focused on addressing abuses in the system by particular actors and are not intended to adversely impact universities such as ours,” according to a statement from the university.

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