OLIP helps to unite and share scarce resources for greater impact by working together in the field of student education.

Walter Piovesan
Associate Director of Education, Ottawa Carleton District School Board
The target beneficiary of the work of OLIP is the whole community. In this short period we have planted together important seeds for Ottawa’s development.  

Dick Stewart
OLIP Council
The Ottawa Chinese Community Service Centre is so happy to have joined the OLIP Health and Wellbeing Sector Table. It is clear that OLIP cares about immigrants and refugees and…

Wendy Tang, Ottawa Chinese Community Service Centre
I was happy to see integration to Algonquin territory and indigenous culture related programming in 2014 WOW. Please continue to involve local Aboriginal organisations and…

Linda Manning
WOW 2014 participant, Senior Fellow, University of Ottawa
Canada has been shaped by people who came from all over the world to build this country. WOW offers a platform for us to celebrate this history and the future it will help…

Alex Munter, Chair of the OLIP Council and President and CEO of the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario and Ottawa Children’s Treatment Centre
We are very pleased to have done the “Opportunity Cost of Not Investing in Interpretation” report – it is so important to have clarity on these challenges and…

Hindia Mohamoud, Director, OLIP
The OLIP Council is committed to leadership.  In only a few years, we have a common vision and priorities, and are up to the task of implementing the Ottawa Immigration Strategy.

Salimatou Diallo
OLIP Council Vice Chair, Assemblée de la francophonie de l'Ontario
I’m really impressed with the level of energy and commitment around the Health and Wellbeing table and look forward to continuing collaboration between OLIP and OPH.

Marcela Tapia
Ottawa Public Health
The WOW seminar on immigrant women’s nutrition and health was a step in the right direction towards closing the gap between academic researchers and service providers.

Josephine Etowa
Associate Professor, School of Nursing, University of Ottawa
The City of Ottawa will continue to play a lead role in the implementation of the Ottawa Immigration Strategy, just as we did in the founding of OLIP.

Steve Desroches
City Councillor and Deputy Mayor of Ottawa

How Will the International Student Cap Impact Ottawa?

March 8, 2024

By Kareem El-Assal
Senior Research Fellow, OLIP

On January 22, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) announced a new intake cap on international students. While acknowledging the host of social, cultural, and economic benefits that international students bring, IRCC stated a cap is necessary to alleviate pressure on housing, health care, and other services in Canada, as well as to better protect international students from bad actors and support sustainable population growth in Canada.

For 2024, IRCC will approve up to 364,000 study permits, representing a decrease of about 35% compared to some 560,000 study permits approved last year. Among those exempts from the cap include international students looking to renew their study permits, those pursuing master’s and doctoral degrees, and elementary and secondary education. The cap will be in place for two years, and at the end of this year, IRCC will re-assess the number of new study permits it will approve for 2025.

IRCC has established individual provincial and territorial caps, weighted by population. In addition, effective January 22, every study permit application submitted to IRCC will require an attestation letter from a province or territory. At present, Quebec is the only province with a similar process in place. All other provinces and territories were expected by IRCC to establish a process for issuing attestation letters by March 31.

Other major international student reforms include no longer allowing international students to be eligible for a Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) starting September 1 if they study at a private college that is partnered with a public higher education institution. This is a very notable development since such programs have attracted significant levels of international students primarily motivated by pursuing Canadian permanent residence. The PGWP is highly coveted since it enables international students to obtain an open work permit for up to three years which they can use to work in any occupation and for any employer in Canada. They can then use this post-graduation work experience to enhance the competitiveness of their permanent residence application. By no longer making such programs eligible for PGWPs, IRCC is hoping to significantly blunt the demand of international students seeking to come to Canada.

Another means IRCC is seeking to blunt demand, and also to better ensure international students can support themselves financially in Canada, is by more than doubling the cost-of-living financial requirement for study permit applicants to $20,635 as of January 1, 2024.

Needless to say, these policies will have major implications across Canada. International students contribute over $20 billion to the economy each year and support some 200,000 jobs, in addition to being an increasing source of revenue for colleges and universities, and an increasing source of talent for employers and Canada’s permanent residence pathways.

According to IRCC, in 2022, Ottawa-Gatineau welcomed nearly 17,500 new international students, compared to over 10,000 in 2017. Ottawa-Gatineau welcomes about 3 per cent of all new international students to Canada. Assuming it maintains the same share this year, Ottawa-Gatineau would see about 11,000 new international students arriving in 2024, plus the additional international students who would arrive who will not count towards IRCC’s cap (e.g., master’s and PhD students).

This forecasted significant decline in Ottawa-Gatineau’s new student arrivals is beneficial to an extent. On the one hand, it will provide the region with some respite following a major population boom in recent years that has strained housing and services. On the other hand, the caps present uncertainty to prospective international students, colleges and universities, employers, the provincial government, and more. Namely, it remains to be seen how the new attestation letter process will unfold.

It is also worth mentioning international students comprise a large share of Ottawa-Gatineau’s francophone newcomers, and temporary residents who transition to permanent residence. Hence, we will need to continue to monitor how the cap will impact both francophone and permanent residence numbers over the coming two years.

At this point, the reforms by IRCC are resulting in more questions than answers, as stakeholders seek to better understand how the caps will work, and what the implications will be. However, the intention by IRCC is to get Canada’s international student population on a more sustainable path, whereby Ottawa-Gatineau and communities across the country will be able to reap the social, cultural, and economic benefits of international students over the long-term.