Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has begun to implement the first of its measures to strengthen and maintain the integrity of the international student program in Canada.
Specifically, the immigration department has now launched an online portal for Designated Learning Institutions (DLIs)—the only schools in Canada that are authorized to accept international students—to verify letters of acceptance (LOAs) that international students submit in support of their student visa application.
Under this new framework DLIs will now have to verify the LOAs students submit through an online portal, which only their representative(s) to IRCC will have access to. Schools will now have up to 10 calendar days to verify letters of acceptance. If a DLI fails to validate the LOA within that time frame (or if they validate the letter as fake), the student visa application will be cancelled and returned to the applicant (along with any fees they may have paid for processing costs).
Note that DLIs will no longer have access to verify LOAs once the verification deadline has passed.
These new changes come in the face of multiple past abuses of Canada’s international student systems, including a high-profile case last year which involved the near deportation of 700 Indian students who had been scammed into coming to Canada based on false acceptance letters, that were fabricated by a fraudulent immigration consultant.
More information on new steps required by DLIs to verify LOAs can be found on the government’s website here.
The trusted institutions framework
This year, IRCC also proposed a new framework for DLIs, called the “Trusted Institutions Framework”. Part of this new policy is to introduce a two-tiered system to issue study permits, like the one covered above.
In addition, the trusted institutions identified within this framework would benefit from this status in various ways, including faster study permit processing.
While not much is currently known about how this framework will function, it is expected to be implemented in fall of 2024. IRCC has continually reiterated this year, however, that protecting the integrity of the international student program remains a key concern. The department has stated it may even consider limiting the number of students visas, to ensure that DLIs are able to provide international students with adequate support for their academic experience.
Further changes in 2024
2024 is set to be a big year for Canada’s international student program, with multiple important changes set to take place throughout the year.
Specifically in 2024 IRCC will:
In addition, the department has stated its intention to more directly connect international student enrolment and PGWP issuance with labour market and demographic needs. Overall, 2024 is expected to bring much change as Canada contends with housing nearly one million international students in the coming year.