Canada doubles cost-of-living financial requirement for international students from 2024

Study in Canada: Working hour limit of 30-hour-per-week for international students while class is in session will be extended to April 30, 2024

Cost of living for international students in Canada doubles from 2024 (Image: Freepik)Cost of living for international students in Canada doubles from 2024 (Image: Freepik)

Pritha Roy Choudhury | December 9, 2023 | 04:01 PM IST

NEW DELHI: Canada has doubled the cost-of-living financial requirements for study permit starting from January 1, 2024. International students will have to show 20,635 dollars in addition to the tuition fee and travel expenses.

“Starting January 1, 2024, the cost-of-living financial requirement for study permit applicants will be raised so that international students are financially prepared for life in Canada”, Marc Miller, minister of immigration, refugees and citizenship, Canada announced in a statement recently.

Moving forward, the transition will be adjusted every year based on ‘Statistics Canada’ low-income cut-off (LICO). The low-income threshold is the minimum income necessary to ensure that an individual does not have to spend more than the average income on necessary items.

New policy

As per the new regulation, a student will have to show they have 20,635 dollars which is 75% of LICO. This is in addition to the first-year tuition fee and travel costs. The change will be applicable to new study permit applications received on or after January 1, 2024. The move will impact all international students, including Indian students, for whom Canada is the top study-abroad destination.

The statement also said the cost of living requirement for international students has not changed since the early 2000s which was set at 10,000 dollars, which is substantially low and failed to keep up with the cost of living over time. The students thereby realised that their funds were not adequate only after arriving in Canada.

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While the change has been done to help international students and prevent them from exploitation, the ministry feels that the impact on the students could vary depending on their financial status. The ministry in collaboration with partners will implement the new regulation in targeted pilots that will test new ideas aimed at helping underrepresented cohorts of international students pursue their studies in Canada.

The recent announcement follows the announcement made on October 27, 2023, which talks about important reforms regarding the development of a new framework to recognise learning institutions that provide top-quality services and support including housing to international students.

“We expect learning institutions to only accept the number of students that they can provide adequate support for, including housing options”, said the statement.

Limiting visas and policies

Canada will further work with provincial and territorial governments and educational institutions and decide on additional measures including limiting visas for international students before the September 2024 semester.

“We are prepared to take necessary measures, including limiting visas, to ensure that designated learning institutions provide adequate and sufficient student support as part of the academic experience. To achieve this result, it is imperative to work together with provincial and territorial governments, learning institutions and other education stakeholders, so we can ensure international students are set up for success in Canada”, Miller added.

Also, as there was labour market disruption during the Covid-19 pandemic and post-pandemic recovery, a temporary policy was introduced on 3 occasions to provide an additional 18-month work permit to post-graduation work permit holders. This was done as their initial work permit was expiring. Foreign nationals with a post-graduation work permit expiring up to December 31, 2023, remain eligible to apply. However, this temporary policy will not be extended further.

Also Read |13.24 lakh left to study abroad in 2022; most from Punjab, AP, Maharashtra: Report

Working hour policy for students

The minister said that they will examine options for the working hour policy for the students in the future. International students have been demanding an increase in off-campus work hours for up to 30 hours per week while class is in session.

As of now, international students working part-time will get a waiver on the 20-hour-per-week limit to a 30-hour-per-week limit. The number of hours international students are allowed to work off campus while class is in session will be extended to April 30, 2024.

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

“The facilitative measure that has allowed international students to count time spent studying online towards the length of a future post-graduation work permit, as long as it constitutes less than 50% of the program of study, will continue to be in place for students who begin a study program before September 1, 2024,” the statement said.

Also Read | UK visa grants for dependants of Indian students grew 1,900% over 2019-2023

This measure will no longer apply to students who begin a study programme on or after September 1, 2024. Distance learning facilitation measures were first implemented in 2020 in response to travel restrictions during the pandemic. This was reduced in September 2022. At this point, the vast majority of international students were studying in person in Canada.

Indian students in Canada

Of late Indian students studying or aspiring to study in Canada have been facing a number of issues which included deportation over fake admission offer letters, lack of job opportunities and poor housing facilities.

After strained diplomatic ties between India and Canada resulted in both countries issuing travel advisories to their citizens, several students have not proceeded with the visa process.

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