Canada considering foreign student visa cap to address housing shortage


Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (REUTERS file)

Canada is examining curbing the number of international students while cracking down on institutions exploiting them amid a housing crisis that threatens Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s political future.

The largest cohort among approximately 800,000 international students in Canada is from India, particularly Punjab. Canada is the top choice for Punjabi youngsters due to its flexible education policy, work opportunities, easier post-graduation immigration possibilities and because of the large Punjabi population there with a political say.

News agency Canadian Press quoted housing, infrastructure, and communities minister Sean Fraser saying a cap on international students was one of the options they ought to consider. He added some pretty tough questions have to be asked when “you see stories about the exploitation of international students with some institutions”.

Fraser said some of the institutions exist purely to profit off the backs of vulnerable international students rather than provide quality education to the future permanent residents and citizens of Canada. He added institutions bringing in record numbers of students from abroad should also be part of the solution by providing the incomers with housing as the rental market in Canada becomes tighter.

The housing crisis appears to be a major factor as ruling Liberal Party of Canada has trailed the opposition Conservative Party in recent polls. reported the growing number of students entering Canada has added to “further upward pressure” on rents. It said the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Canada rose to CA$2078 in July (approximately 1.29 lakh). The priciest flats were in Vancouver with one-bedroom accommodation averaging CA$ 3000 (about 1.86 lakh).

In 2022, 226,000 of the 549,570 study permits were issued to Indian nationals. Indians accounted for 96,175 of the 238,960 permits issued until June.

Fraser, who was the immigration minister until last month, said the discussions he has had with his successor, Marc Miller, include “separating the wheat from the chaff” in terms of good private institutions attracting students for the right reasons and those exploiting them.

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