Photo by Satiricalman, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International
The federal government has announced new rules for international students, including cutting the number of study permits to be issued in 2024 down by 35% to approximately 360,000, and preventing some international students from being able to bring their spouses to Canada by denying their spouse a work permit.  

In blaming international students for allegedly putting pressure on the housing market and on public services, the government is employing dog whistle tactics that could amplify xenophobia and racism.

As a union that represents international students across the country, CUPE joins migrant justice advocates in calling for measures that would actually address the housing crisis.

Speculative investors and corporate landlords – not international students – are increasing peoples’ rents, evicting tenants into homelessness, and gambling with real estate to drive up the cost of purchasing a home. Yet, the government has chosen to impose punishing new rules on international students, including forced family separation.

The government should ensure that international students have the protections they need – including permanent residence on arrival – instead of cynically scapegoating them for an affordability crisis that they, themselves, are suffering from.

The new rules include:

  • Starting September 1, 2024, preventing some international students in private colleges from obtaining a Post Graduate Work Permit. This punishes international students instead of the private colleges that exploit them.
  • Denying work permits to spouses of international students in undergraduate and college programs. Without the ability to work, this will force many spouses to stay behind, separating families.
  • Allowing international students in graduate programs to apply for a 3-year Post Graduate Work Permit.
  • A new cap on the number of international students permitted into Canada (360,000 in 2024 – a 35% drop from 2023)
  • Requiring an attestation letter from provinces and territories for all new study permit applications from January 22, 2024. Provinces and territories have until March 31, 2024 to come up with a process.