International Students Will Need To Show Increased Funds As of January 1, 2024

by Ronalee Carey Law

December 2023

Last month, I wrote about how international students in Canada took a bad rap this year.  Pundits were calling for change, suggesting that the number of new students be decreased and their ability to work in Canada curtailed. It appears IRCC heeded their messages.

On December 7th, IRCC announced changes to ‘better protect international students.’  The effect of these measures will be to protect people by not letting them become students in the first place. As of January 1st, 2024, instead of showing $10,000 in available funds for their first year of living expenses, students will need to show $20,635, which is 75% of the Low-Income Cut-Off (LICO) amount. The fund requirement hadn’t been changed since the early 2000s but will now be updated regularly to reflect the cost-of-living expenses. This will make education in Canada unaffordable for many students.

However, for students staying in Canada year-round, the fund increase will still require them to work, lest they live under the LICO amount. IRCC has made policy contradicting its own legislation, which requires a student to have sufficient funds for their studies without the need to work in Canada.

IRCC’s news release also hinted at other changes to come. It states, ‘Ahead of 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 supports as part of the academic experience.’

In a news conference related to the release, the immigration minister minced no words about schools that are taking advantage of international students. He referred to them as ‘visa mills’ churning out diplomas (relating them to ‘puppy mills’). He said that if provinces do not ensure their schools provide adequate housing support to international students, visa caps could be introduced.

The housing minister (formerly the immigration minister) also seems to support limiting the number of future students.

However, this isn’t the first time this has come up. In a regulatory statement for 2014 changes to Canada’s immigration legislation, the phrase ‘visa mills’ was used. The changes were meant to limit the number of international students in Canada.

Only time will tell if this second kick at the can actually works.