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Canada is committed to attracting and retaining more international students


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Posted on Oct 14, 2022 at 08:00 am EDT
Updated Oct 14, 2022 09:53am EDT

Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has published its response to the Canadian House of Commons (CIMM) Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration; on the measures necessary to attract, assist and protect international students who are coming to and already in Canada.

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CIMM is an internal government committee that studies immigration and citizenship issues in Canada. They oversee the IRCC and monitor federal policy on multiculturalism. The CIMM report was written to address the fact that while Canada is a world leader in attracting international students, some students may find themselves disadvantaged and vulnerable due to a number of factors that the IRCC can address.

The report focused on three main objectives in relation to international students:

  • Attract international students to study in Canada;
  • Guarantee equity in the International Student Program; Y
  • Improve service and communication for international students in the study permit and immigration processes.

The IRCC response focused on measures that can be taken and are already in place to assist in these three objectives; covering each individually with the goal of reducing vulnerabilities and helping international students through the process of applying for permission, study and settling in Canada.

Attract international students

The government acknowledged that from 2022 to 2023, the number of study permit holders is projected to increase to approximately 753,000 international students; although he acknowledges ICMM’s concern that, despite the increases, the department is not adequately considering requests from certain countries and populations.

In response, IRCC has committed to:

  • Explore the expansion of Student Direct Stream (SDS) to specific countries in Asia, Africa and French-speaking. The SDS is a fast flow to obtain a study permit for candidates from 14 countries;
  • Investigate rates of denial of study permits (in general, and specifically for French-speaking African students), destined for Quebec, by establishing a working group between the Ministère de l’Immigration, de la Francisation et de l’Intégration ( MIFI) and the IRCC;
  • Maintain and reassess the scope of the Nigeria Student Express (NSE) stream, a study permit stream created to assist students applying from Nigeria; Y
  • Explore how to best promote the transition to permanent residence for international students, particularly those with the necessary skills, experience and language levels to succeed in Canada.

Ensuring equity in the international student program

CIMM highlighted a number of areas in its initial report to the IRCC, which identified potential initiatives to ensure equity in the international student program and application processes. In response, IRCC has committed to reviewing practices and ensuring equity across the International Student Program (ISP) by:

  • Continue to include questions related to accessibility, race, and gender in the voluntary annual customer experience survey to learn more about how customers face unique challenges based on their demographics;
  • Establish a disaggregated data and analysis framework (DDAF). Disaggregated data is data that has been filtered to understand the specific relationships they have, based on demographics; to better understand how (for example) a specific group of people is affected by a particular policy or phenomenon;
  • Explore patterns and determinants of social well-being in immigrant cohorts, with a focus on different racial groups;
  • Review the international student selection process and evaluate students according to criteria more closely linked to their potential value; Y
  • Improve customer service and communication.

Improve service and communication with international students

Many of CIMM’s recommendations involved the importance of providing clear and transparent information to clients and stakeholders, including on processing times and reasons for denials. In response to these, IRCC has responded by:

  • Highlight the recent hiring of 1,250 new processing employees in late fall 2022 to help with processing capacity and post monthly data on backlogs;
  • Commit to working with Designated Learning Institutions (DLIs) to implement data collection of information on international student enrollment and status, whereby DLIs will submit data elements to IRCC for review real time processing; Y
  • Expressing interest in continuing initiatives such as the 2022 pilot program in which immigration officers proactively posted their decision notes along with some Temporary Resident Visa (TRV) applications, at the time of decision, to ensure transparency and comprehension;

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