Canada has drawn up new rules for students and student visas which will take effect from June 1, 2014. The stated motive and aim for the changes is threefold. Thus, the three main or primary aims for the changes are that i) they will bring in changes which are improvements in standards and services offered to genuine students, ii) protect Canada’s international reputation for high-quality education iii) and bring down the potential for fraudulent means of admission and any misuse of the student visa program.
Here in the following are the summary of the changes to the earlier student visa program that have been brought about by the Canadian government. Thus, while earlier, student visa applicants had to only show intent to pursue studies, now, they have to ‘enrol in a university study program’ and also continue to pursue studies there. Also, earlier, applicants were allowed and required to apply for a study permit to pursue studies at any educational institution in Canada. But, now, under the new rules which will take effect from June 1, 2014, , ‘study visas’ will only be issued to applicants who wish to pursue studies at a designated educational institution only, one which has been allowed/designated to receive international students.
The best piece of news for ‘student visa‘ holders and the biggest draw for them now, would be the following change. Thus, earlier, only those ‘study visa’ holders pursuing studies at any institution which is either ‘publicly-funded’ or at certain post-secondary institutions which are privately funded were eligible to apply for an ‘Off-Campus Work visa’. This ‘Off-Campus Work Permit’ would enable an eligible student to be able to work up to 20 hours per week off-campus, during the academic session and full-time during scheduled breaks. But now, under the new rules which will take effect from June 1, 2014, all ‘student visa’ holders who are pursuing some kind of program which is designated as ‘academic’, ‘vocational’ or ‘professional training’ and is of a time duration of six months or more and which leads to a ‘diploma’, or a ‘certificate’, or a ‘degree’ at a designated institution are eligible to work outside of the campus for a maximum number of 20 hours per week (during the academic session). And, now, they would also be eligible to work full-time during declared holidays, without the need to apply for a separate ‘work visa’.
Also, earlier, any foreign student could apply for a ‘Co-Op Work permission/Permit’ if a co-op placement is part of the student’s course. But, now, according to the new rules, which will take effect from June 1, 2014, only those foreign students who are studying at a recognized secondary school or at a designated higher institution, may seek and apply for a ‘Co-Op Work Permission/permit’ and also this would be granted only if a placement through co-op arrangement is a component or part of his/her course.
Also, earlier, visitors were not allowed permission to apply for a ‘study permit’, if they were already residing in Canada. But, now, the rules have become much more liberal. Thus, according to the new rules and changes, which will take effect from June 1, 2014, ‘visitors’ to Canada may apply for a permit to pursue studies in Canada, from within Canada if they are i) pre-school level students, or primary level students or are secondary level students in Canada, or ii) part of an ‘exchange study program’ or are visiting students at a ‘learning institution’, which has been designated to accept such category of students, or, iii) the students have completed a course or program of study that needs to be completed for acceptance at a ‘learning institution’ recognized as such a designated institution in Canada.
Another notable change is that while earlier, alien/international students were allowed to stay in Canada after they completed their studies until the expiration of their study visa time period, provided they held valid/genuine study permits, under the new rules, they would have to leave Canada within 90 days of expiration of their study permit, unless they hold an alternate work authorization. And also, as of now, there is nothing in the existing rules that make any references that say or state that ‘registered Indians’ who are also foreign nationals are allowed not to have a study permit. But, in the new rules that will take effect from June 1, 2014, registered Indians who are still foreign nationals do not need a study visa to study in that country for the simple reason that they have the eligibility to enter Canada.
One other important change is that while earlier, study visa holders were not eligible to work further to the completion of their studies and when they were waiting for the approval of their post graduate work permit, under the new rules that will take effect from June 1, 2014, those among the graduate students who are eligible to work can work pending the assessment of their work permit authorization.