Canada Restricts Student Visas to 35% Fewer than Last Year

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By Shorelight Team
Last updated on February 15, 2024

In 2024, Canadian undergraduate study permits have decreased - meaning 35% fewer international students will get visas compared to 2023. Planning to study abroad in North America? Consider alternative options at US universities ready to welcome and enroll international students.

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At-a-Glance: 2024 Canadian International Student Policy Changes

  • 360,000 undergraduate study permits to be issued

  • 35% fewer permits issued overall*

  • 50% fewer permits issued in Ontario and British Columbia*

On January 22, 2024, Canada announced a series of policy changes aimed at reducing the number of international students studying in the country. In 2024, the government intends to issue approximately 360,000 undergraduate study permits, which represents a 35% decrease compared to 2023. Some provinces, such as Ontario and British Columbia, will experience an even steeper reduction, closer to 50% from the previous year. 

These policy changes go beyond limiting the intake of students and include measures that have halted permit application processing, implemented additional requirements to the student visa process, and placed significant restrictions on student and graduate work rights. Understandably, these changes have introduced a wave of uncertainty, impacting the plans of many aspiring students who looked to Canada for a high-quality education, particularly those applying for Canadian visas for the fall of 2024. 

What Are the Impacts on International Students?

  • Uncertainty over the next few weeks/months while issuance of new study permits is temporarily paused nationwide

  • Potential delays to confirm spring/fall study plans for enrollment-limited programs

  • Uncertainty in regard to which provinces and institutions will have capacity and when

  • Limited seats for international students at Canadian universities

  • More students competing for fewer visas

The Minister of Immigration for Canada, Marc Miller, has characterized these policies as a “blunt instrument.” The comprehensive scope of these changes and their swift implementation will have widespread consequences for international students and the potential to seriously damage Canada’s reputation as a welcoming destination for international students.

Consider Alternatives in the US

In contrast, the United States has long been the preferred destination for international students. Our nation continues to maintain its position as the top host for international students, thanks to our strong economy, prestigious universities,** and world-class academic offerings. The educational experience not only enriches international students’ knowledge, but also equips them with the critical thinking, problem-solving, and cross-cultural communication skills that required in today’s interconnected world. 

Beyond playing a pivotal role in driving innovation and progress in the US, international students enrich campus diversity while gaining access to a wide range of programs and opportunities, positioning them at the forefront of American research and innovation. International students are not just beneficiaries of education, but also active contributors to the vitality of campuses and the communities that host them, fostering mutual learning and cultural enrichment that extends well beyond the classroom.

Shorelight Can Help

For more than 10 years, Shorelight has been the expert in international student success. International students who work with Shorelight will find a wide range of support services that take the guesswork out of the study abroad process and ensure they thrive once on campus. Personalized counseling is available for researching and identifying the right school, navigating the college application process, securing a student visa, and planning travel to campus. Once at school, Shorelight students work with dedicated campus teams for orientation, first-year academic tutoring and introductory courses, English-language help, and social activities. Support continues through graduation with career development services covering resume and cover letter prep, interview practice, professional networking, career fairs, and internships.   

Stay Tuned for More...

We will be continuing updates and outreach efforts to ensure international students, counselors, and universities have the latest news and strategies to determine clear-path solutions and alternatives. In the meantime, please:

While the Canadian policy changes will no doubt be disruptive, attractive alternatives are available for international students. Expert Shorelight counselors are available to assist with determining next steps – reach out today to learn more

Speak to a Shorelight advisor >

*Compared to 2023

**The United States is home to 45 institutions listed on the QS World University Rankings, including seven of the top 10 colleges globally, according to Times Higher Ed rankings (based in the UK).