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Immigration News: Changes for International Students

Canada is a popular destination for international students. Recently, Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada made some changes to the procedural guidelines visa officers follow when issuing student visas. These changes are in effect for all study permits moving forward.


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What's Changed

Put simply, some international students will now require two study permits instead of one.

If the program that an international student is accepted into requires that the student complete a separate prerequisite ‘pathway’ program, such as a language course, the student will need two study permits, one for each program. Previously, visa officers would issue a single long-term study permit for the duration of both programs, and under the name of the second designated learning institution (DLI).

Now, visa officers will issue an initial permit for the duration of the prerequisite program and under the name of the institution offering that program. Once the student has successfully completed the prerequisite program, they must apply for a second permit which will allow them to continue their studies at the second DLI.

Why Was it Changed?

According to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), visa officers raised two main issues with the old system.

First, issuing a study permit for a program with conditional acceptance left the system open to abuse. If an international student fails the prerequisite program, they are unable to continue their studies but retain a valid study permit. In this scenario, the individual could then live and work in Canada for the duration of the permit, despite not actually being a fulltime student.

Second, visa officers were having trouble with compliance reporting. The visa office reaches out to the DLI listed on study permits to report compliance of international students. However, students who had failed their prerequisite programs were not in attendance at the DLI listed on their permit. Issuing two separate study permits will ensure that the appropriate institutions are requested to report on student compliance.

What Does This Mean?

The changes were made without consulting students or stakeholders. So the broader implications of these changes are still to be determined. What we do know is that there is now an extra step in the process for some international students.

The changes only affect those students whose acceptance is conditional on a prerequisite program.

Stakeholders have raised concerns over the requirement that the prerequisite program be completed before students can apply for their second study permit. The processing time it takes to issue the second permit may cause complications in students’ transition from the prerequisite program into their subsequent program.

We’ll keep you updated as we learn more.

At Canadim, we are experts in Canadian immigration law. Canadian immigration policies and practices change all the time. It’s our job to know what changes are coming, but we recognize that you’re hugely invested in the process too. That’s why we do our best to keep you informed about recent Canadian Immigration news. If you’d like to receive these updates by email, sign up for our Newsletter.

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