Canada has announced a significant change in its immigration regulations, affecting those aspiring to study in the country.
In a statement on Thursday, Marc Miller, Minister of Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship, said beginning January 1, 2024, the minimum cost of living financial requirement for students will be raised from the current 10,000 Canadian dollars to 20,635 Canadian dollars. He said this is being done to ensure that students don’t face any financial hardship in the country.
The shift is expected to impact Indian students, especially those from Punjab, who represent a considerable portion of annual applicants seeking student visas for Canada.
In response to these new regulations, Mandeep from the Montreal Youth Student Organization (MYSO) voiced concern, highlighting, “Students are already grappling with financial strain due to various expenses such as the elevated cost of IELTS examinations, increased college fees, and high rental charges. Instead of easing conditions for international students, the Canadian government is intensifying the situation by doubling the minimum security amount required in Canadian banks for student expenses.”
Mandeep emphasised, “Previously, this minimum amount stood at 10,000 Canadian dollars, which has now more than doubled. Banks issue a Guaranteed Investment Certificate (GIC) after depositing this sum, and presently, the monthly withdrawal limit from this account is around 670 dollars, based on expenses. However, this limit is likely to double considering inflation and the revised minimum security amount. This additional burden will impede deserving students from pursuing their education in Canada, as financial resources play a critical role.”
Khushpal Grewal, another MYSO member, added, “Instead of reducing college fees, controlling rentals, or providing affordable public transportation, the government is increasing the burden on international students. Before the Covid era, when Canada faced a labor shortage, immigration rules were relaxed, leading to a surge in student numbers over the past few years. Now, they’re tightening regulations according to their convenience.”
Varun Khanna, also part of MYSO, referred to historical parallels, stating, “Looking back, even in 1908, the Canadian government altered rules for Indian immigrants. Initially, they were required to bring 25 dollars, which was later increased to 200 dollars—a substantial sum at that time.”
Manpreet, another member of MYSO, commented, “Governments tend to change rules based on their convenience. However, the impending challenge lies with students intending to study in Canada from January 2024 onwards. Punjabi students will bear a significant impact as they constitute a substantial portion of this demographic.”
Moreover, it’s important to note that rough statistics obtained from immigration agents in Punjab revealed that in 2022, approximately 2.26 lakh Indians secured Canadian visas under the International Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), with nearly 1.36 lakh being Punjabis. Presently, over 3.5 lakh Punjabi students are enrolled in Canadian institutions.