The Government of Canada has announced that the cost-of-living financial requirement for study permit applicants will be raised significantly, starting January 1, 2024.
The government says the increase is necessary to ensure that international students are financially prepared for life in Canada, which has become significantly more expensive since the previous requirement was set.
This change, announced by Immigration Minister Marc Miller on Thursday, reflects the rising cost of living in Canada, which has outpaced the previous financial requirement set in the early 2000s.
“International students provide significant cultural, social and economic benefits to their communities, but they have also faced challenges navigating life in Canada. We are revising the cost-of-living threshold so that international students understand the true cost of living here,” said Miller.
“This measure is key to their success in Canada. We are also exploring options to ensure that students find adequate housing. These long-overdue changes will protect international students from financially vulnerable situations and exploitation.”
Miller disclosed that starting January 1, 2024, single study permit applicants will need to demonstrate that they have $20,635 CAD available, in addition to their first year of tuition and travel costs.
He stated that the new threshold is based on 75% of the low-income cut-off (LICO), which represents the minimum income necessary to ensure basic needs are met.
“The cost-of-living requirement for study permit applicants has not changed since the early 2000s, when it was set at $10,000 for a single applicant. As such, the financial requirement hasn’t kept up with the cost of living over time, resulting in students arriving in Canada only to learn that their funds aren’t adequate,” Miller stated.
“For 2024, a single applicant will need to show they have $20,635, representing 75% of LICO, in addition to their first year of tuition and travel costs. This change will apply to new study permit applications received on or after January 1, 2024.”
The minister noted that the new threshold will help prevent student vulnerability and exploitation, as the government recognises that the impact of the change will vary depending on the applicant.
He also disclosed that the government, in collaboration with partners, intends to implement targeted pilots that will test new ideas aimed at helping underrepresented cohorts of international students pursue their studies in Canada.
Minister Miller also provided an update on three temporary policies affecting international students that were all set to expire at the end of 2023, which includes the waiver of the 20-hour-per-week limit on the number of hours international students are allowed to work off campus while class is in session, which will be extended to April 30, 2024.
He stated that international students already in Canada, as well as applicants who have already submitted an application for a study permit as of December 7, 2023, will be able to work off campus more than 20 hours per week until that time.
“We continue to examine options for this policy in the future, such as expanding off-campus work hours for international students to 30 hours per week while class is in session.”
The minister also noted that International students who began their program before September 1, 2024, can count online study time towards the length of their post-graduation work permit, as long as it comprises less than 50% of the program.
“This measure will no longer apply to students who begin a study program on or after that date. Distance learning facilitation measures were first implemented in 2020 in response to travel restrictions during the pandemic and were reduced in scope in September 2022. At this point, the vast majority of international students are studying in person in Canada.”
Concerning the additional post-graduation work permit, Miller added that the temporary policy providing an additional 18 months of work authorization for expiring post-graduation work permits will not be extended beyond December 31, 2023.
“Foreign nationals with a post-graduation work permit expiring up to December 31, 2023, remain eligible to apply. However, this temporary policy will not be extended further.”