IRCC Minister Transition Binder 2019: International Students
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Area at a Glance
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada manages the International Student Program and issues study permits to foreign nationals seeking study in Canada.
The International Student Program is demand-driven (no caps or quotas).
In 2018, there were close to 720,000 foreign nationals in Canada on study permits – up 57% since 2015.
Provincial/Territorial Ministries of Education are responsible for designating institutions eligible to host international students based on criteria to ensure their quality.
- There are over 1,300 designated post-secondary institutions and designation for primary/secondary institutions is currently automatic.
There are three basic phases to the International Student Program:
|Year||Number of permit holders|
Scope of Impact
International students are a significant and growing contributor to the economy.
- Over $21B annually, greater than exports of auto parts, lumber or aircraft
- Over a 61% increase in study permits issued between 2015 and 2018
- Canada ranked 4th in study destinations in 2018, up from 7th in 2015
International students are also seen as a promising pool of talent to be tapped for temporary work or permanent residency:
- Over 75,000 post-graduate work permits issued in 2018 – up 102% since 2014.
- 53,700 former international students transitioned to permanent residence in 2018 – up 19% from 2017.
International Student Profile in 2018
- India (30%)
- China (24%)
- Republic of Korea (5%)
- France (4%)
- Vietnam (3%)
- Brazil (3%)
- Ontario (49%)
- British Columbia (23%)
- Quebec (12%)
- College (37%)
- University (34%)
- Primary/secondary (18%)
- Foreign nationals destined to academic, professional or vocational training programs that are longer than six months in duration require a study permit.
- A student must meet all program requirements:
- Be accepted at a designated Canadian educational institution
- Meet admissibility requirements (i.e., financial, security and health screening)
- Study permit holders are required to enroll at a Designated Learning Institution and actively pursue their studies for the duration of their studies.
- IRCC conducts program monitoring to ensure students respect these requirements.
- Post-secondary Designated Learning Institutions report to IRCC twice annually on the enrollment status of international students, allowing IRCC officers to investigate those who may be potentially non-compliant and take action against them.
- Eligible students can work on- and off-campus and participate in co-op programs during their studies.
- International student graduates of public universities and colleges are eligible for an open work permit up to a maximum of three years, based on the duration of their program of study.
- Private Career Colleges are excluded, with the exception of those in Quebec.
- Accompanying spouses may be eligible for work permits.
- All pathways to permanent residence (e.g., economic, family immigration programs) are available to international student graduates.
- Bonus points are awarded in Express Entry for Canadian study and work experience in permanent residency programs (e.g., Canadian Experience Class).
Significant growth in International Student Program
- A welcome development, including for education sector and provinces/territories
- However, it creates strains on operational processing to achieve timely client service
- Program integrity and compliance efforts, including engagement with provinces/territories, need to keep up
Composition of student migration is changing and being monitored
- Large concentration from India and China could make Canadian institutions more vulnerable to changes in these countries and market fluctuations
- International students are largely destined to Ontario, British Columbia and Quebec
International Education Strategy launched in August 2019
- Funds and measures to target new markets to increase diversification of the international student population
- Funds to modernize application processes (i.e., improved web forms; expansion of the Student Direct Stream, an expedited application service) to improve client service and study permit processing
Attracting, selecting, and retaining international students is an important and growing responsibility for the Minister of IRCC.
The International Student Program involves the education sector and provinces and territories, and has linkages with economic and labour market objectives.
Significant growth and strong linkages across all three program phases (study, work, and stay) brings opportunities and challenges.
A briefing is recommended to provide further background, deeper analysis, [Redacted].
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