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B.C. introduces measures to align with new international student regulations

The B.C. government is rolling out measures to align with the federal government’s cap on international students.

B.C. government officials said this will come in the form of attestation letters that will be sent to eligible post-secondary institutions.

The process is meant to allow international applicants to study in B.C., as required by the federal department of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).

“Our ministry is moving quickly to ensure that we mitigate negative impacts to our post-secondary institutions and that international students have every opportunity to succeed in their education in B.C.,” said Lisa Beare, Minister of Post-Secondary Education and Future Skills. “While we’ve all agreed that the status quo wasn’t working for anyone – not for students, and not for our communities – the federal cap doesn’t take British Columbia’s unique environment into account. We will continue to work with the federal government to ensure any subsequent changes take British Columbia’s needs into consideration so that we can have a made-in-B.C. solution that properly responds to our shared goals.”

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The attestation letter will be a verification process that will be sent from the province to educational institutions, which will then be sent to the international applicant.

“The letter will serve as proof that the applicant has been accounted for within the maximum set by the federal government,” said B.C. government officials. “Applicants will submit the attestation letter along with their study permit application.”

According to the province, institutions that hit their limit will not be able to submit more applications until a new allocation is sent out by the federal government.

Officials said B.C.’s cap is 83,000 undergraduate study permit applications, compared to about 97,000 applications in 2023.

“Based on previous acceptance rates, the federal government expects this to result in approximately 50,000 approved study permit applications for 2024. This compares to approximately 60,000 approved study permits for B.C. in 2023,” said the provincial government.

Officials said 53 per cent of the provincial attestation letters will go to public post-secondary institutions (such as Selkirk College and the College of the Rockies), and the remaining 47 per cent will go to private institutions.

“The distribution is based on supporting public post-secondary institutions to maintain their international student programs while managing growth for this year and for future years,” said the province. “Private institutions that have pursued unsustainable growth will see the greatest impact of the reduced allocation. In 2024, private institutions will receive 27% fewer study permit applications than they did in 2023.”

Officials said the numbers are based on the federal allotment of attestation letters and do not represent approved study permits.

“Our government is acting promptly to ensure that there is as little disruption as possible given the new federal requirements and cap on international visa applications,” said Ravi Parmar, Parliamentary Secretary for International Credentials. “We will continue to implement the suite of actions our government recently announced to enhance post-secondary education quality and maintain and strengthen B.C.’s reputation while delivering the quality that British Columbians expect and international students deserve.”

That said, some applicants will be exempt from the requirements, such as:

  • Primary and secondary school students.
  • Master’s or doctoral degree students
  • Students already in Canada with a valid study permit or in-Canada work permit holders and their in-Canada family members.
  • Students already in Canada applying for an extension
  • Students whose application was received before 8:30 a.m. (Eastern time) on Jan. 22, 2024.

“The Province will continue to support international students to ensure they receive high-quality education in B.C.,” said the province. “Over the coming year, more action will be taken to better align programs with B.C.’s labour-market needs and continue to strengthen protections for students to prevent exploitation.”

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