The federal government announced that the number of future study permits being issued will be “significantly” limited in the wake of massive fraud in Canada’s international student program.  

“Enough is enough,” said Immigration Minister Marc Miller during a press conference on Thursday.

Miller announced that the government would increase the financial commitment required of incoming international students as well as restrict their number of permissible work hours each week. 

Beginning on Jan. 1, 2024, applicants will have to pay $20,635 for their cost-of-living study permit, up from the initial $10,000 financial requirement. That fee does not include their tuition or travel costs. 

The raised cost-of-living permit is designed to ensure better housing for international students once they arrive in Canada and will be adjusted yearly.

Miller claims that the new measures will dial back the current business model of post-secondary education institutions, which he likened to “puppy mills.” 

“The fraud and abuse needs to end,” said Miller.

Since 2013, the number of study permit holders has tripled, from 300,000 to 900,000.

International students contribute $22 billion to the Canadian economy via tuition fees and personal spending, they also account for 200,000 jobs.

The international student program has been the subject of much controversy in recent months over the education sector’s use of unregulated foreign agents, who apply aggressive recruitment campaigns to get students in as well as the uncovering of thousands of fraudulent acceptance letters. 

Canadian post-secondary schools have found a lucrative cash cow in foreign students and employers have also become accustomed to utilizing international students for low-wage jobs in fast-food, retail, warehouses and the gig economy.  

The surge in international students in combination with Canada’s current housing crisis has left many study permit holders without proper shelter or employment, with some turning to food banks to save money. 

Both the public and private sectors of colleges are primarily to blame for the exponential growth in international students as universities are less able to offer degrees that come fast and cheap. 

Colleges can also offer international students the opportunity to stay and work in Canada as well, and in certain cases, qualify for permanent residence.

The Immigration Department lifted the 20-hour weekly work hours granted to international students during the pandemic to ease their financial strains, however, Miller said the 20-hour limit will return to effect as of May 1, as the winter semester comes to a close. 

According to the Toronto Star, Miller said the new pilot programs will be implemented to encourage post-secondary institutions to alter their recruitment process and to retain students from countries that are currently underrepresented.