On October 27, 2023, Canada’s Immigration Minister, Marc Miller, announced a series of planned measures intended to protect international students coming to Canada.
This news addresses recent incidents of international students receiving fraudulent letters of admission from false agents and not receiving sufficient support amidst the current housing crisis.
ApplyBoard is thrilled to see Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) taking action to address these challenges, protect the wellbeing of international students, and maintain the integrity of Canada’s international student program. Keep reading for a summary of what we know about the newly announced measures.
IRCC Introduces 3 Impactful New Measures
The three major changes planned are designed to bolster Canada’s International Student Program and help protect international students from becoming victims of fraud.
The measures are:
- The launch of a new verification process for letters of acceptance (LOAs). Beginning December 1, 2023, all post-secondary designated learning institutions (DLIs) will be required to confirm the legitimacy of LOAs directly with IRCC.
- The introduction of an official “recognized institution framework,” designed to incentivize DLIs to provide better international student support and outcomes. This new system, to be implemented by Fall 2024, will likely result in faster study permit processing for institutions that meet the criteria.
- A planned assessment of the Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) Program, followed by potential program reforms to better address Canada’s labour shortage and regional immigration goals.
As part of the same announcement, Minister Miller also dismissed the recent suggestions of an international student cap, observing that the lived experience of students is too complex for such a simple formula. As part of an answer to a later question, Minister Miller noted that he doesn’t see a scenario in which Canada reduces its international student numbers.
More details are still to be released about each specific measure and its rollout. In the sections below, we’ve summarized what we do know and what is likely to happen.
Canada’s New LOA Verification Process
Following a high-profile case from earlier this year in which hundreds of international student victims were found to have been given falsified letters of acceptance, IRCC is implementing a new reporting process for all designated learning institutions.
The enhanced system, which comes into effect on December 1, 2023, will require institutions to authenticate their LOAs directly with IRCC before a corresponding study permit is processed and issued. More specific details have yet to be announced.
Seamless Automation with ApplyProof
This effort to safeguard students from fraud is a very positive development, and a necessary one. However, it does put an increased burden on Canadian institutions themselves, adding an additional manual and time-consuming step into the student admissions process.
That’s where our sector-leading ApplyProof solution comes in.
ApplyProof enables Canadian institutions to securely track and maintain data on several documents key to an international student application, including LOAs. We’re pleased to report that the ApplyProof portal integrates well with the new IRCC process, and can empower institutions to meet the government’s requirement in seconds—securely, efficiently, and with privacy protection by design.
ApplyProof enables institutions to:
- Automate the new IRCC reporting process
- Make documents verifiable and portable at no cost to students
- Maintain an efficient dashboard to track records of proof of acceptance documents
Thanks to ApplyProof, document authentication already comes built-in with ApplyBoard application submissions to most Canadian institutions. We’re pleased to see the Canadian government taking similar steps to authenticate LOAs, mitigate fraud, and protect students.
Study Permit Fast-Tracking for Trusted Institutions
Minister Miller also officially announced the implementation of a new Recognized Institution Framework, which will reportedly be put into place before the Fall 2024 semester begins.
Under this new framework, IRCC intends to reward or punish DLIs based on how well they’re supporting international students. Institutions that provide positive outcomes for international students will benefit from faster study permit processing, whereas those that do not will be identified and held accountable.
To qualify for benefits like study permit prioritization, colleges and universities will be required to demonstrate their ability to:
- Provide sufficient housing for international students
- Sustainably grow their international student enrollment
- Offer adequate student support services
- Foster equity and diversity
As part of his announcement, Minister Miller also emphasized the role of provincial governments in ensuring that each DLI adheres to current best practices, and communicated the importance of keeping students themselves at the heart of every decision-making process.
Post-Graduation Work Permit Program Reforms
Finally, as part of this new package of reforms, IRCC also signalled their intention to review and update the popular Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) Program. This program enables eligible international student graduates to stay and work in Canada for up to three years after completing their studies, and is considered an important potential pathway to permanent residency and citizenship.
Minister Miller clarified that in order for Canada to grow responsibly, programs such as this must incentivize participants to pursue work in high-demand fields like the trades. Canada’s current labour shortage cannot be filled domestically, making international students and immigrants vital for Canada’s future.
The exact changes to be made to the PGWP program are still unclear, but are likely to focus on specific high-demand fields. IRCC’s intention is to adapt the program to “better select and retain those students that are best suited to meet the needs of Canada’s economy and immigration goals.”
At ApplyBoard, we’re committed to putting the needs of students first, and we’re glad to see the Canadian government doing the same. We hope these new measures will lead to positive change in the sector—and we look forward to working with IRCC and our partners to create trust, transparency, and accountability throughout the international student recruitment and admissions process.
Our team will continue to follow and report on these policy updates as they develop. For the most up-to-date information, visit the news page on the IRCC website.