How Canada’s Move To Tackle Housing Crisis Hits Indian Students

Canada Changes Visa Norms Amid Rent Crisis. How This Hits Indian Students

Indian students form the largest chunk of overseas students in Canada

New Delhi:

Indians planning to study in Canada and those pursuing courses there stand to be the worst-affected as the Justin Trudeau administration brings in new norms for overseas students in its bid to tackle rising food costs and a housing crisis.

India is the largest source country for overseas students in Canada, according to the high commission in Ottawa. Currently, about 2.30 lakh Indian students are enrolled in various courses in the country.

The Canada government’s move to cap the number of overseas students and a rise in cost of living may now make Indian students weigh Canada against other options such as the UK, US and Australia.

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What Are The New Norms

Canada has capped the number of students visas to be issued at 360,000 — a 35 per cent cut as compared to last year. Canada’s Immigration Minister Marc Miller said this is a temporary policy for two years.

The new proposals also set limits on issue of post-graduate work permits to overseas students. This is aimed at encouraging them to return to their countries. Earlier, these permits were seen as an easy way to get permanent residency in Canada. Now, those pursuing Master’s or Post-Doctorate programmes will be eligible for a three-year work permit. Those admitted under a curriculum licensing arrangement will no longer be eligible for post-graduate work permits.

Open work permits will now be available only to spouses of overseas students pursuing Master’s or doctoral programmes. The spouses of undergraduate and college students will no longer be eligible.

Student permit applications now require a new document – a letter of attestation from a Canadian province confirming its capacity to accommodate the applicant.

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Indian Students In Canada

Canada is among the favourite destinations for Indians aspiring to study abroad. According to last year’s data from Ministry of External Affairs, over 2 lakh students headed to Canada, the US and the UAE. Australia and the UK were preferred destinations too, attracting about 90,000 and 50,000 students, respectively.

Between 2013 and 2022, the number of Indian students moving to Canada to study has seen a massive rise of 260 per cent. Over a lakh Indian students moved to Canada in 2021 and 2022, according to data from Ottawa.

According to a Reuters report, about 40 per cent of overseas students in Canada are from India. China comes a distant second at 12 per cent.

According to a Reuters report, Canada minister Miller said in an interview that he believes that the number of study permits to Indians is unlikely to rebound soon. “Our relationship with India has really halved our ability to process a lot of applications from India,” Miller said.

Ties between India and Canada have nosedived after Trudeau accused the role of Indian government agents in the killing of Khalistani terrorist Hardeep Singh Nijjar in British Columbia. Indian has trashed the allegations, calling them absurd and motivated.

Why Is Canada Cracking Down

The ease in getting work permits after finishing study was a major draw that pulled Indian students to Canada. However, the rapid surge in the number of overseas students entering the country led to a housing crisis and rents went up. Statscan had found that rents in Canada rose by 7.7% from a year earlier, news agency Reuters reported. The rise in cost of living, coupled with unemployment, emerged as a poll challenge for Trudeau.

Conservative Party leader Pierre Poilievre has now taken a lead over Trudeau in opinion polls ahead of an election next year, Reuters reported. Pushed into a corner, the Trudeau administration has now come forward with the new norms.

“Right now we have a challenge with the sheer volume of students coming in. It’s just gotten out of control and needs to be reduced – I would say – significantly over a short period of time,” Canadian minister Miller said.

The Impact

The overseas students are not the only ones to be affected by the new norms. The universities are going to take a hit as international students bring in about $16.4 billion annually, Reuters reported. Many institutions that had expanded their campus hoping that the inflow will continue now face disappointment.

Some businesses, including restaurants and retail sectors, have also warned that a cap on foreign students will create a shortage of temporary workers, Reuters reported.

Restaurants across Canada are grappling with labour shortages with nearly 100,000 vacancies, and international students made up 4.6 per cent of 1.1 million workers in the food service industry in 2023, a lobby group told Reuters last week.

Apart from this, Canadian banks had benefited from the influx of new students too. Each student was required to have a Guaranteed Investment Certificates of more than C$20,000, a prerequisite for international students to cover living expenses.

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