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Revised requirements to better protect international students
December 7, 2023—Ottawa—Canada stands out as a premier choice for international students, offering top-notch educational institutions, a diverse and inclusive society, and promising avenues for work or permanent immigration post-graduation. While international students greatly enrich campus life and contribute to innovation, they have encountered significant challenges, particularly in securing suitable housing during their studies in Canada. IRRC Student Work Hours

Today, The Honorable Marc Miller, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, unveiled a pivotal announcement slated to take effect on January 1, 2024. The cost-of-living financial requirement for study permit applicants will be elevated to better equip international students for the Canadian way of life. Going forward, this benchmark will be annually adjusted in tandem with Statistics Canada’s updates to the low-income cut-off (LICO), signifying the minimum income needed to ensure a standard quality of living.

Living cost

The cost-of-living stipulation for study permit applicants has remained stagnant since the early 2000s, fixed at $10,000 for single applicants. Consequently, this financial criterion has failed to keep pace with the rising cost of living, leaving arriving students underfunded. In 2024, a single applicant must demonstrate $20,635, equivalent to 75% of LICO, in addition to their first-year tuition and travel expenses. This adjustment applies to new study permit applications received on or after January 1, 2024.

In an effort to prevent student vulnerability and exploitation, the government acknowledges the potential disparate impact of these changes on applicants. In collaboration with partners, targeted pilots will be implemented in the next year, testing innovative approaches to assist underrepresented groups of international students in pursuing their studies in Canada.

This development follows the substantial reforms to the International Student Program announced on October 27, 2023. Emphasizing a new framework to recognize institutions providing top-quality services and support, including housing, the government anticipates learning institutions to enroll a number of students commensurate with their capacity to provide adequate support.

Acknowledging the responsibility to support international students, the government is prepared to take measures, including visa limitations, to ensure learning institutions offer sufficient student support. Collaboration with provincial and territorial governments, learning institutions, and education stakeholders is deemed essential to guarantee international students’ success in Canada.

Minister Miller also provided updates on three temporary policies affecting international students set to expire at the end of 2023:

  1. Extension of the waiver on the 20-hour-per-week limit for off-campus work until April 30, 2024.
  2. Continuation of the facilitative measure allowing online study time to count toward post-graduation work permit length for students commencing programs before September 1, 2024.
  3. Non-extension of the temporary policy granting an additional 18-month work permit to post-graduation work permit holders beyond December 31, 2023.

Recognizing the immense social, cultural, and economic contributions of international students, the government emphasizes the importance of addressing vulnerabilities and upholding the integrity of the International Student Program. The long-overdue increase in the cost-of-living threshold aims to empower incoming students financially and enhance their academic journey in Canada.


“We are elevating the cost-of-living threshold to provide a clear understanding of the actual expenses in Canada. This measure is crucial for their success. Additionally, we are exploring avenues to ensure students find suitable housing. These overdue changes will shield international students from financial vulnerability and exploitation.”

Quick facts

  • International education contributes over $22 billion annually to Canada’s economy, surpassing exports of auto parts, lumber, or aircraft, and supporting more than 200,000 jobs.
  • Quebec maintains its independent cost-of-living threshold for international students attending its institutions, periodically increasing it.
  • The new financial guidelines also apply to the Student Direct Stream, streamlining study permit applications for residents of 14 countries with additional upfront information requirements for priority processing.

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