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 three basic phases to the International Student Program:

Study Permit Holders by Year
Year Number of permit holders
2008 128,410
2009 147,947
2010 155,187
2011 167,244
2012 176,256
2013 191,445
2014 208,099
2015 219,166
2016 264,652
2017 315,945
2018 357,232

Scope of Impact

International students are a significant and growing contributor to the economy.


International students are also seen as a promising pool of talent to be tapped for temporary work or permanent residency:

International Student Profile in 2018

Primarily from

Destined to

Studying at

Current Program

Study Phase

Work Phase

Stay Phase

Recent Developments

Significant growth in International Student Program

Composition of student migration is changing and being monitored

International Education Strategy launched in August 2019

Key Takeaways

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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