Study Permit Restrictions to Take Affect January 1, 2014

The Government of Canada has introduced amendments to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations which will restrict which schools are eligible to have international students study at them.  Effective January 1, 2014, the issuance of study permits will be limited to international students attending designated learning institutions.

Currently, most provinces and territories have a mix of public educational institutions, private degree-granting institutions, and private non-degree-granting career colleges.  The latter are subject to varying degrees of regulations, and private language schools are generally not regulated at all.  Previously, any of these institutions could host international students on study permits.  Under the new regulations, however, only students attending designated institutions can receive study permits.

Designated institutions include:

  •  a learning institution that is administered by a federal department or agency;
  • if a province has entered into an agreement with Citizenship and Immigration Canada in respect of learning institutions that host international students, a learning institution in Canada that is designated by that province under the agreement; and
  • if a province has not entered into an agreement with Citizenship and Immigration Canada in respect of learning institutions that host international students, then any of the following:
    • a public post-secondary learning institution in Canada that is recognized by the province,
    • in the case of Quebec, a private post-secondary learning institution in Quebec that operates under the same rules and regulations as public post-secondary learning institutions in Quebec,
    • a private post-secondary learning institution in Canada that is recognized by the province and that is authorized by the province to confer degrees, but only in the case where the foreign national in question is enrolled in a program of study that leads to a degree as authorized by the province,
    • a learning institution within a public school board or district that is funded by and accountable to the province, or
    • an independent or private learning institution in Canada that delivers provincial curricula.

The government anticipates that, once implemented, the proposed amendments are expected to result in a loss of $517.8-million in tuition.  (Interestingly, they also anticipate an increase in tuition of $488.6-million at designated institutions.  It is not clear where this increase in students would come from, unless designated institutions across the country massively increase seat space to foreign students.)

The implication on the British Columbia economy, where there are an estimated 500 private schools, could be severe.  I simply do not believe that all of these schools will close.  More likely, I predict that the federal Conservative move is likely to put wind to the sails of the BC New Democratic Party’s efforts to re-regulate the province’s private non-degree-granting institutions, something they have been clamouring for for years.

Other recently announced changes to Canada’s study permit program include:

  • limiting the issuance of study permits to students attending designated learning institutions except in the case of visitors who wish to undertake courses or programs of study of six months or less for which a study permit is not required;
  • establishing new study permit conditions requiring all students to enrol in and actively pursue a course or program of study after arrival in Canada;
  • providing exemptions to protected persons, refugee claimants and certain family members from the proposed conditions on study permit holders;
  • allowing the issuance of removal orders in circumstances where students are not complying with their study permit conditions;
  • authorizing temporary residents already in Canada to apply for a study permit from within Canada if they are studying at the preschool, primary or secondary level, or have completed a course or program of study that is a condition for acceptance at a designated learning institution;
  • limiting access to international student work permit programs to eligible study permit holders attending a designated educational learning institution; and
  • authorizing international students attending designated institutions to work part-time during their studies provided they hold a valid study permit and are enrolled full-time in an academic, vocational, or professional training program of a duration of at least six months.