Changes to international student regulations needed to close the housing crisis gap in Brampton

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Published August 30, 2023 at 12:28 pm

International Students are seen in this file photo protesting a now-scrapped deportation of 700 students.

Immigration consultants in Brampton are calling on Ottawa to revamp requirements and regulations for international students to help get to grips with the growing housing crisis instead of putting a cap on new admissions.

News that the federal government is considering a cap on the number of international students coming to Canada has been a cause for concern for the Brampton Immigration Consultancy (BIC), which offers assistance to students and newcomers emigrating to Canada.

Housing Minister Sean Fraser said last week that the government could limit the number of international students enrolled in Canadian post-secondary institutions in an effort to ease the worsening housing crisis. But the BIC says changes to funding requirements, college transfers, and promoting schools with adequate housing facilities would better tackle the issue.

Many schools require students to purchase a Guaranteed Investment Certificate (GIC) of $10,000, which serves as a guarantee to the government that students have the funds to take care of living expenses for their first year in Canada.

The BIC says doubling the cost to $20,000 would be in line with the current cost of living increases, and benefit both students and the government by reducing “the risk of students resorting to inadequate living conditions.”

Another issue is where in the country students are studying, with the BIC saying international students are attracted to already densely-populated cities in the GTA, as well as on the west coast in Vancouver and Surrey. Bringing in a restriction on college transfers for international students during their first year of study is an option the BIC would like Ottawa to consider in a move that could “better distribute immigrants across provinces…relieving the pressure on housing in specific areas.”

The BIC is also calling on the feds to limit international student admissions to schools with adequate housing options, and give those institutions priority when granting Designated Learning Institution status and post-graduation work permits.

“As an organization committed to the welfare of international scholars, we believe it is crucial to address these challenges and offer practical solutions to ensure a fair and balanced environment for both students and the nation,” BIC said in a release.

The BIC says it has reached out to various ministers to highlight the need for housing faced by international students and is calling on Ottawa “to adopt a comprehensive perspective on the housing crisis and collaborate with stakeholders to devise sustainable solutions that benefit students and the broader community.”

In 2014, Canada set a target to increase international student enrolment from about 240,000 to more than 450,000 by 2022. Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada reported that there were more than 807,000 international study permit holders in Canada in December.

Hundreds of international students were facing deportation in June after applying for visas through a now-shuttered consulting company in India that reportedly gave them fake offers of acceptance without their knowledge.

Fraser, who was at that time the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, walked back the deportations “if the facts of an individual case are clear that an international student came to Canada with a genuine intent to study, and without knowledge of the use of fraudulent documentation.”

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