Canada caps foreign student visas

TORONTO — Canada on Monday announced a two-year cap on international student visas to ease the pressure on housing, health care and other services at a time of record immigration.

Immigration Minister Marc Miller said there will be a 35 percent reduction in new study visas in 2024. He said that the international students program has been exploited by institutions offering “sham” degrees, putting pressure on housing and health care.

“It’s a bit of a mess, and it’s time to rein it in,” Miller said.

The number of new visas handed out will be capped at 364,000. Nearly 560,000 such visas were issued last year.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Cabinet retreat in Montreal this week will prioritize affordability and housing, according to a government statement.

The government said there are about one million foreign students in the country now, and without any intervention this number would keep increasing. The total number of foreign students is more than three times what it was a decade ago.

Miller said officials have been working on stabilizing the number of people entering the country yearly as housing pressures mount.

Struggling Canadians

Canada grew by about one million people last year, reaching a record of 40 million, as many Canadians struggle with an increased cost of living, including rents and mortgages.

“You cannot bring in 1.25 million people a year but only create 300,000 homes on average and think you’re not going to have a structural problem on housing,” TD Bank Group chief economist Beata Caranci said at the Economic Club of Canada’s 2024 Annual Economic Outlook earlier this month.

The immigration minister said there are unscrupulous schools that accept high tuition fees from foreign students without offering a solid education in return. In some cases, the schools are a way into Canada for students who can parlay their visas into permanent residencies.

“It is not the intention of this program to have sham commerce degrees or business degrees that are sitting on top of a massage parlor that someone doesn’t even go to and then they come into the province and drive an Uber,” Miller said.

“If you need a dedicated channel for Uber drivers in Canada, I can design that, but that isn’t the intention of the international student program," he said.


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