Your questions about Canada's new measures for prospective international students, answered

Applicants will soon need to show they have access to $20,635 instead of $10,000

Your questions about Canada's new measures for prospective international students, answered

Canada's immigration minister on Thursday announced a slew of new requirements for foreign students wanting to come study in Canada.

Starting next year, Marc Miller said prospective international students will need to show they have access to $20,635 instead of the $10,000 requirement that has been in place for two decades, in addition to paying for travel and tuition.

The amount will be adjusted annually based on a Statistics Canada benchmark for living costs.

Miller also announced the federal Liberals are extending an exemption that allowed current international students without an employment visa to work for more than the 20 hours each week off campus.

He threatened to cap visas in provinces that don't help house students or who won't shut down educational institutions that he argues shouldn't be operating.

The announcements drew a lot of feedback and questions from the CBC News audience, especially on the new $20,000 requirement.

Here are answers to some of them.

How will this affect current students and applicants?

The new minimum financial requirements only applies to new study permit applications received on or after Jan. 1, 2024.

Is the $20K per year or a one-time thing?

The requirement is a one-time thing.

Under the current system, prospective students must show that they have $10,000 in addition to money for their first year's tuition and travel expenses. Under the new system, the $10,000 is increased to $20,635.

Who is eligible to work more than 20 hours a week?

Currently, any international student without an employment visa can work for more than 20 hours a week off campus.

The waiver that temporarily allows students to work over the 20-hour cap was due to expire at the end of 2023, but Miller announced that it will be extended to April 30, 2024 for current students.

According to a news release: "International students already in Canada, as well as applicants who have already submitted an application for a study permit as of December 7, 2023, will be able to work off campus more than 20 hours per week until [April 30, 2024]."

Miller signalled that the Liberals are open to increasing the cap for when the waiver expires, but he said allowing 40 working hours per week would give people reason to come to Canada and not focus on their studies.

Will this stop diploma 'puppy mills'?

For years, critics have argued that some colleges are providing foreigners with inadequate education while giving them a chance to get visas to work in Canada and to eventually immigrate. Media outlets have reported on students scraping by in exploitative jobs.

"There are, in provinces, the diploma equivalent of puppy mills that are just churning out diplomas, and this is not a legitimate student experience," Miller said at a news conference.

"There is fraud and abuse and it needs to end."

For now, no new actions have been announced targeting any specific colleges.

The punitive threat of reducing visas to schools that rely on international students may, in theory, spur offending institutions to clean up their act. But Miller passed the buck to provinces to do something.

Miller said the measures are meant to ensure international students aren't vulnerable to sketchy employers and "unscrupulous" schools that leave them unable to afford life in Canada.

"Clearly, we have become a country that has been targeted for abuse and exploitation by some unsavoury actors," he said. It's unclear if any tangible crackdown will come from Miller's remarks.

How does this benefit international students?

Some observers say the new financial requirement is a step toward being open and transparent with prospective international students about the cost of living and studying in Canada.

This, some observers say, may lead to fewer applicants, but it could help ensure those who do apply are prepared for the economic reality and therefore less vulnerable to exploitation.

Wanda Cuff-Young, vice-president of operations at international recruiting agency Work Global Canada, said the additional funding requirement is a good step to combat fraud, but wonders if doubling the amount of money needed all at once is too much right away.

"Maybe it could have been phased in. But Canada needs students," Cuff-Young said.

With files from CBC's Alex Kennedy and The Canadian Press