Canada Introduces New Student Visa Rules, Raising UAE Parents Concerns

Canada's Immigration Minister, Marc Miller, recently announced new requirements for international students seeking higher education in Canada, effective January 1, 2024.

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Financial Hurdles for International Students in Canada

The changes primarily focus on raising the cost-of-living financial requirement for study permit applicants, with the aim of ensuring that students are adequately financially prepared for their time in Canada.

Financial Hike and Policy Objectives

The updated policy mandates that students, starting next year, demonstrate access to $20,635—an increase from the long-standing $10,000 requirement. This adjustment is accompanied by ongoing expenses related to travel and tuition. Minister Miller emphasizes that these changes aim to safeguard students from vulnerability and exploitation.

Annual Adjustments and Economic Impact

The financial threshold will be adjusted annually based on Statistics Canada's updates to the low-income cut-off (LICO). This represents the minimum income needed to prevent individuals from spending an above-average portion of their income on necessities. Despite the potential impact on families, the government contends that these measures are essential to maintaining the integrity of student welfare.

Economic Contributions and Student Migration Trends

International education contributes over $22 billion annually to Canada's economy. While official statistics for 2022–23 are pending, the trend from 2019–2021 indicates a consistent rise in the number of students migrating to Canada from the UAE.

Educational Platform Insights

Rashmi Menon, Director of Admissions at UniHawk, notes that, on average, over 1,400 students from the UAE travel to Canada annually, and this number is steadily increasing. The new policy's potential impact is acknowledged, particularly for cost-sensitive parents, prompting discussions on alternative destinations.

Parental Perspectives on Policy Changes

Various parents express differing views on the policy changes. Saurav Banerjee believes that proof of funds, while a temporary requirement, should not be the primary concern for parents. He emphasizes focusing on overall education expenses, suggesting that if parents can sustain the required amount throughout the college term, the new financial proof should not pose significant issues.

Mixed Reactions and Diverse Perspectives

Long-time Dubai resident Jogiraj Sikidar advises parents to keep alternative plans ready when scouting for universities. Subhashish Gupta views the policy positively, seeing it as a safety net for students facing financial challenges during their studies.

Temporary Policies Extension

Minister Miller also extended three temporary policies affecting international students, including the extension of the 20-hour-per-week work limit off-campus until April 30, 2024.

Surge in the Foreign Student Population

Despite these changes, Canada continues to attract a growing number of international students. Data from the Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) shows a 77% increase in new study permits issued from January to June 2023 compared to the same period in 2022. The surge in international student enrolment is expected to persist, although the doubled fund requirements starting in 2024 may impact some students' pursuit of their educational dreams.

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