IRCC Increases Requirements for International Students

Effective January 1, 2024, Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) will raise the cost-of-living requirement for study permit applicants, significantly increasing the financial threshold for single applicants to $20,635. This alteration addresses the inadequate adjustment of the previous requirement, which has remained stagnant at $10,000 since the early 2000s.

The decision to revise the cost-of-living requirement stems from IRCC’s acknowledgement that the current financial benchmark does not adequately align with Canada’s rising cost of living. Many students arriving in the country have found their initial funds insufficient.

Moreover, the department has outlined plans to annually adjust this requirement in tandem with Statistics Canada’s updates to the low-income cut-off (LICO), ensuring it reflects the minimum income necessary for individuals to sustain basic needs without disproportionately allocating their income.

This financial adjustment will also apply to the Student Direct Stream (SDS), an expedited study permit application stream for residents of 14 specific countries.

While emphasizing the need to safeguard international students from vulnerability and exploitation, IRCC acknowledges the varying impact this change may have on individual applicants. To address this, the department plans to implement targeted pilot programs in the following year, specifically tailored to support underrepresented cohorts of international students pursuing studies in Canada.

In addition to the cost-of-living adjustment, IRCC has extended the waiver on the 20-hour-per-week work cap for international students until April 30, 2024. This extension, initially introduced on November 15, 2022, and applicable to students in Canada or those who applied for a study permit by December 7, 2023, allows students to work beyond the usual 20-hour limit during their academic sessions.

IRCC also announced two significant updates related to Post Graduation Work Permits (PGWP) during the recent press conference:

Firstly, the provision enabling international students to include online study terms toward their future PGWP (as long as it doesn’t exceed half of the total program duration) has been extended until September 1, 2024.

Secondly, there will be no further special extensions for PGWPs. The Canadian government previously implemented three temporary policies to extend PGWPs for 18 months. However, individuals eligible under the most recent extension policy (with work permits expiring by December 31, 2023) may apply, but IRCC will not seek further extensions beyond this period.

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