In a significant move on December 7, 2023, Marc Miller, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), unveiled a series of crucial policy revisions impacting international students in Canada. These changes aim to cushion international students against the escalating cost of living and housing difficulties they face.
Effective January 1, 2024, international students applying for a study permit must now show proof of financial capability amounting to C$20,635, a substantial increase from the previous requirement of C$10,000. This change, implemented for the first time in nearly two decades, mirrors the heightened living expenses.
Furthermore, the temporary relaxation of the work hour restriction for international students, initially set to conclude on December 31, 2023, has been extended to April 30, 2024. This extension permits students to work over 20 hours weekly off-campus during the winter semester. Additional updates concerning post-graduation work permits were also addressed by Minister Miller.
Read on for an in-depth understanding of how these changes may influence you as an international student, advisor, or recruitment partner.
Elevated Proof of Financial Resources for Student Applications
A pivotal aspect of this announcement is the revision in financial proof requirements for student study permit applications in Canada.
When applying for a Canadian study permit, international students must demonstrate financial readiness to cover their living and study expenses in Canada. Previously, this figure was pegged at C$10,000, plus travel and one year’s tuition fees. Given the surging living costs, this amount is now deemed insufficient.
From 2024, IRCC will annually adjust these financial benchmarks in line with Statistics Canada’s latest low-income cut-offs. Applicants must now show access to C$20,635, in addition to funds for travel and first-year tuition fees.
This revised financial threshold is applicable to all new study permit applications from January 1, 2024, and also affects those applying via the Student Direct Stream, where the Guaranteed Investment Certificate (GIC) must now reflect at least C$20,635.
Extension of Work Hour Limit Waiver Until April
While focusing on financial requirements, Minister Miller also shed light on the temporary measures affecting international students.
Since November 15, 2022, international students with an off-campus work permit have been allowed to work beyond 20 hours per week. This waiver, initially expected to end on December 31, 2023, has been extended to April 30, 2024, benefiting both existing and new study permit applicants as of December 7, 2023.
This waiver offers international students enhanced work flexibility, the opportunity to gain more work experience, and the ability to earn additional income for their studies.
Although this extension is temporary, Minister Miller suggested the potential for a permanent increase in the work hour limit to 30 hours per week.
Renewal Options for Post-Graduation Work Permits
In response to the global COVID-19 pandemic, Canada introduced temporary adjustments to the Post-Graduation Work Permit Program (PGWP). These include allowing international students to count up to 50% of their online study towards a future PGWP, applicable to those starting a Canadian program before September 1, 2024.
Additionally, eligible PGWP holders, affected by the pandemic, can extend their work permits to gain Canadian work experience. However, this extension policy will not continue beyond 2023.
These updates from IRCC Canada are geared towards ensuring the success and well-being of international students in Canada, with anticipation for further supportive measures in 2024