The Trudeau administration is gearing up to revamp its visa policies comprehensively. The aim is to strategically distribute international students across various regions of Canada. The move comes in response to concerns about overwhelmed communities grappling with an influx of international students.
According to a spokesperson for Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), the federal government intends to ensure that the benefits of immigration are evenly spread throughout the country.
Canada has traditionally been a popular destination for overseas students. IRCC has also witnessed a significant surge in study permit applications from abroad. Since 2017, the number of requests has more than doubled.
It has skyrocketed from 3,13,000 to record levels of nearly 5,50,000 applicants in 2021 and 715,000 last year. The nation has a population of approximately 38 million.
However, alongside the advantages brought by international students, several challenges have emerged. The challenges include regional housing shortages, instances of visa fraud, and broader concerns tied to race, culture, economic competition, and national security.
Government’s Action Plan
The federal immigration minister, Sean Fraser has emphasised that immigrants can play a vital role in addressing housing shortages. They can bring the skills and labour required for Canadian industries, including the construction sector.
The Canadian Bureau for International Education(CBIE) has urged the Trudeau government to adopt a more strategic approach. It should focus on international student needs and planning agreements.
The government is also concerned about foreign espionage targeting research universities. So, it establishes a registration system for individuals acting on behalf of foreign governments.
The move has faced opposition from the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT), which fears limitations on legitimate political criticism. CAUT’s executive director, David Robinson, supports efforts to restrain institutions that have admitted excessive numbers of foreign students.
The Trudeau administration aims to achieve a balanced approach, addressing challenges while ensuring equitable distribution of immigration benefits across all regions of Canada.