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  • Writer's pictureMelissa Elizabeth Eberly

Changes to the International Student Program in Canada: What You Need to Know

My name is Melissa Elizabeth Eberly and I am a lawyer with Paolucci Law.  I am an immigration lawyer by training with over five years of experience with helping a diversity of clients on a variety of applications.  Today I would like to talk to you about some recent and upcoming changes to the international student program in Canada.  While I hope that this blog post will help you with navigating Canada’s complex immigration system, it does not constitute legal advice.

Update to IMM 1294 Form for Study Permit Applications Made from Outside of Canada

There’s nothing unusual about Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) updating their application forms from time-to-time.  However, there is usually a grace period whereby applicants can continue using the previous version of the form before they will be required to use the most recent version, but this is not always the case.

On December 1, 2023, the most recent version of the study permit form for outside of Canada applicants became available and as of the same day, this form is now required.  Any applications submitted on or after December 1, 2023 that use previous versions of the form will not be accepted.

Verification of Letters of Acceptance

Individuals applying for a study permit must ordinarily submit with their application “written documentation from the designated learning institution where they intended to study that states that they have been accepted to study there”, otherwise known as a  Letter of Acceptance.

Earlier this year, Canada Border Services Agency sought to remove a number of international students from Canada who had applied for study permits with letters of acceptance that they did not know were fraudulent.  In response, the Minister of IRCC made a statement announcing that a task force would identify victims of fraud and that those international students who were not found to be involved in fraud would not face removal from Canada.  

On October 27, 2023, the Minister of IRCC announced starting December 1, 2023, post-secondary learning institutions are now “required to confirm every applicant’s letter of acceptance directly with IRCC” in an effort to ensure that every fraudulent letter of acceptance is identified soon after it is submitted.  Instructions on how letters of acceptance are validated by Designated Learning Institutions are now available.

Update to Minimum Funds Requirement

Individuals applying for a study permit must ordinarily demonstrate that they have enough money to pay their tuition fees, support themselves and any accompanying family members during their studies in Canada, and to leave Canada at the end of their stay.  For many years, IRCC specified that a single study permit applicant, with no dependents, outside of Quebec, needed to show that they had enough money to cover the costs of their tuition for the first year of their studies plus $10,000, called the “cost-of-living” requirement.  

On December 7, 2023, the Minister of IRCC Marc Millar announced an increase to the cost-of-living requirement.  As of January 1, 2024 a single applicant will be required to show that they have enough money to cover the costs of their tuition for the first year, travel costs plus $20,635.  This change will apply to new study permit applications received on or after January 1, 2024.  

Extension of Temporary Public Policy to Lift the Limit on Off Campus Work Hours

Eligible international students can ordinarily work up to 20 hours per week off campus during a regular academic session and full-time during a regularly scheduled break between academic sessions.  In November 2022, a temporary public policy came into effect allowing eligible international students to work in excess of 20 hours per week.  This policy was due to expire on December 31, 2023, but the current Minister of IRCC Marc Millar announced on December 7, 2023 that this policy will be extended to April 30, 2024:

"International students already in Canada, as well as applicants who have already submitted an application for a study permit as of December 7, 2023, will be able to work off campus for more than 20 hours per week until that time."

If you are interested in coming to Canada to study, it can be challenging to know what documents you will need when applying for a study permit, how your application will be assessed, and whether you can work as a student.  If you have any questions, you should consider speaking with an immigration lawyer and I would be happy to speak with you.

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