Canada witnessed a significant milestone in 2023, as a remarkable 62,410 international students successfully transitioned to permanent residency, reflecting a notable increase of 9,670 from the previous year. Data from Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) showcased the ongoing trend of foreign students choosing Canada as a pathway to long-term settlement. The surge in numbers, however, coincides with growing discussions within the country about potentially regulating the intake of international students, especially in response to challenges such as a housing crisis.
The total population of new immigrants and students from India living in Canada reached approximately 330,000 in 2023, underscoring the nation’s appeal as a destination for individuals seeking educational and economic opportunities. Canada’s population growth, fueled in part by foreign students, non-permanent residents, and temporary foreign workers, has been among the fastest globally. However, this demographic growth has strained resources, prompting discussions on how to balance economic benefits with the need for sustainable development.
Immigration Minister Marc Miller has voiced concerns about the rising cost of living and housing affordability, leading to considerations of potential reforms in the intake of international students and temporary residents. While there have been suggestions of permit reforms and intake caps, the debate is nuanced, taking into account the potential economic implications.
Montreal-based Desjardins Securities warned against restrictive measures, citing potential negative impacts on Canada’s economic recovery and the risk of a deeper recession. According to their projections, restrictions on entry for temporary workers and foreign students could result in a 0.7% decline in the country’s real GDP in 2024, with an average annual growth of 1.78% in the subsequent four years.
The primary route for international students seeking Canadian permanent residency is the Express Entry Program. Despite a diplomatic dispute causing a 4% decline in permits issued to Indian students last year, they remained the largest group pursuing permanent residency in Canada. Minister Marc Miller is actively exploring strategies to address the challenges associated with the influx of international students and temporary residents, emphasizing the need for a balanced approach that considers economic realities alongside sustainable growth.