IRCC to increase cost-of-living requirement for study permit applicants

Edana Robitaille, Asheesh Moosapeta
Published: December 7, 2023

Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) is raising the cost-of-living requirement for study permit applicants as of January 1, 2024.

Starting on January 1st, the cost-of-living requirement for a single study permit applicant will be $20,635. This is in addition to the first year of tuition and travel costs and will apply to study permit applications received on or after January 1st.

The new cost is more than double the current requirement of $10,000, an amount brought in during the early 2000s that has not been adjusted since.

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IRCC says the financial requirement has not kept up with the cost of living in Canada and students have been arriving only to learn their funds do not go as far as they hoped.

In addition to the January 1st increase, the department says that the cost-of-living requirement will be now adjusted each year when Statistics Canada updates the low-income cut-off (LICO). LICO is considered the minimum necessary income required in Canada to ensure that individuals do not need to spend a higher-than-average portion of their income on basic necessities.

The department also notes that the new financial guidelines will be applied to the Student Direct Stream (SDS). The SDS is a study permit stream for applications from residents of 14 countries that offers faster processing..

IRCC says adjusting the cost-of-living requirement will help prevent student vulnerability and exploitation, but it recognises that the impact can vary with each potential applicant. It also says that next year it will implement targeted pilots to help underrepresented cohorts of international students pursue their studies in Canada.

Extending working hours for students

Alongside the cost-of-living requirement, IRCC also announced that it is extending the waiver on the 20 hours of work per week cap for international students until April 30, 2024. Only students already in Canada, as well as those who have already submitted an application for a study permit as of December 7th, 2023, are eligible for this extension.

The measure was first introduced on November 15, 2022, and was set to last until December 31, 2023. It gives students the opportunity to work more than the usual 20 hours per week while class is in session.

Students may be eligible to work while studying in Canada if they:

  • hold a valid study permit;
  • Are studying full-time at a designated learning institution;
  • have started studying and remain in satisfactory academic standing as determined by their institution;
  • are studying in an academic, vocational or professional training program that is at least six months in duration and leads to a degree, diploma or certificate; and
  • have a Social Insurance Number (SIN).

Additionally, as part of today’s press conference, Minister Miller also made two Post Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) related announcements.

First, the measure allowing international students to count school terms spent studying online toward their future PGWP (as long as this time does not make up more than half of the student’s total time in the program)—will be extended till September 1st, 2024.

Secondly, there will be no further special extension of PGWPs. On three separate occasions, the government of Canada utilised a special temporary policy to extend PGWPs for an 18-month period. Individuals eligible to apply under the most recent extension policy (with work permits expiring as late December 31st, 2023), may do so but IRCC will not seek to extend PGWPs after this period has ended.

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