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Canada: New student visa regulations leave some unanswered questions

The Canadian government has published its new student visa regulations in its official gazette. The new regulations amend the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and target notably conditions concerning the issuing and extension of student visas.

Contrary to current regulations, students must be enrolled in a Canadian higher education institution – the mere intention to pursue studies in Canada when applying for a student visa will no longer be valid. Their study permit will automatically expire after 90 days following the completion of studies, unless the applicant is granted another authorisation to stay within Canada such as a work permit. In addition, international students will no longer have to apply for an off-campus work permit, as the new study permit will automatically authorise international students to work up to 20 hours during the semester and even full-time during semester breaks.

A specific issue arises out of the new regulations’ restrictions on student visa eligibility for designated educational institutions only. This means, that international students can only receive a study permit if they are enrolled at a specifically designated secondary or tertiary education institute.  The competency of determining which educational institutions can enrol international students will be attributed to the provinces of Canada. However, the proper implementation and criteria for designating such institutions still remains unclear. So far, only the province of British Columbia has announced that tertiary education institutions will require Education Quality Assurance (EQA) designation in order to become a designated educational institution for international students.

As the new regulations will enter into force from 1 June 2014 onwards, a proper implementation for determining the status of designated educational institutions of other Canadian provinces is needed.

Canada Gazette - Regulations ammending the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations

Citizenship and Immigration Canada - Press release

Government of British Columbia - Press release