Source: Facebook

Should Ottawa maintain its pace of international student visa approvals following the recent cut, it might surpass its goal to reduce the number of permits significantly.

The education recruitment company, ApplyBoard estimated based on data from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada that if the number of students who were approved in the first four months of 2o24 remains constant, then study permits would drop to 229,000.

That would make for a 48% decrease from last year when the federal government approved 436,678 study permits.

There has been mounting pressure on the Trudeau government to curb its explosive growth of temporary immigration, which many believe is affecting the housing crisis and the overall high cost of living. 

The Trudeau government announced it would reduce temporary immigration in January, cutting the number of study permits by 35% when compared to 2023.

New restrictions were also placed on post-secondary education institutions, which were largely responsible for bringing in temporary foreign students as an immigration pathway for students, with the majority arriving from India.

However, the recent cap on international students has led to some pushback from postsecondary schools and provincial governments, including Colleges Ontario and B.C. Premier David Eby. 

Eby wants to see exemptions in occupational areas where there is high demand, such as nurses, early childhood care and truck drivers.  

“We can’t have this cap impacting our healthcare system or the availability of childcare, or the ability to build the homes that we need,” Eby told reporters in January.

B.C. and Ontario will feel the cap more than other provinces as they take in the greatest number of international students every year, even though the cap is applied on a per capita basis equally across all provinces. 

Colleges Ontario, an association representing 24 public colleges across the province, said that there will be “long-lasting repercussions” as a result of the cap in a statement released at the time of the government’s announcement. 

“The federal government’s cap on study permits for international students is essentially a moratorium by stealth that is already causing significant and unnecessary upheaval for students, employers and communities,” reads the statement

“Ontario’s public colleges are calling for the federal government to treat the post-graduate credentials at public colleges the same way it treats the post-graduate credentials at universities and to exempt them from the cap.”

Almost one-third of all postsecondary students in B.C., about 545,000, are international, and with a number that high, postsecondary institutions are going to feel the loss in tuition fees. Especially since some institutions may charge as much as 10 times the amount in tuition fees to an international student as they would to a Canadian student.

However, Ottawa conducted a probe into 2,000 suspicious student visas last year and discovered that approximately 1,485 applicants had issued fake letters of admission into colleges and universities. The bulk of the fraudulent applicants involved came from India, China and Vietnam. 

The federal immigration department then had to identify which students legitimately travelled to Canada to study and which ones were linked to fraud. 

“The CBSA will continue to focus inland investigative resources on high-risk cases, with criminality and national security being the highest priorities,” said Guillaume Bérubé, a spokesman for the CBSA last summer. 

“The CBSA is responsible for investigating alleged violations of the Customs Act and the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA), focusing on complex cases such as organized crime, and primarily targeting the organizers, facilitators and perpetrators of crimes that pose a threat to the integrity of Canada’s border legislation,” said Bérubé.

The scam initially came to the attention of CBSA in 2018 when a probe into the abuse of the student visa system revealed that such visas were being used by others as a means to get to Canada, only to join gangs.