Canada Considers Capping Foreign Student Visas Amid Rising Housing Costs
Foreign students face possible visa cap amid housing crisis
The Canadian government is considering limiting the number of foreign student visas as a way to ease the pressure on the housing market, according to the new Housing Minister Sean Fraser.
Fraser, who was previously the immigration minister, said on Monday that the surge in international students in recent years was affecting the availability and affordability of housing in some areas.
He said capping the number of foreign student visas was “one of the options that we ought to consider”, but added that no decision had been made yet.
The government’s proposal comes amid growing public concern over the rising cost of housing, which has become a major political issue ahead of the next federal election, due by October 2025.
The official opposition Conservative Party, which leads in the polls, has accused the Liberal government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of failing to address the housing crisis.
How many foreign students are in Canada?
Canada is a popular destination for international students because of its high-quality education system and its relatively easy path to obtaining a work permit.
According to official data, there were more than 800,000 foreign students with active visas in 2022, up from 275,000 in 2012.
Most of them come from India, China, France, South Korea and Brazil.
Foreign students contribute to the Canadian economy by paying tuition fees, spending on goods and services, and filling labour shortages in some sectors.
They also enrich the cultural diversity and social fabric of the country.
However, some critics argue that foreign students are taking up valuable housing space that could be used by local residents, especially in cities like Toronto and Vancouver, where rents and prices are sky-high.
They also claim that some foreign students are using their visas as a backdoor to permanent residency, bypassing the regular immigration system.
What are the government’s plans for immigration?
The Canadian government has an ambitious immigration plan that aims to welcome a record 500,000 new permanent residents in 2025.
The government says that immigration is essential for Canada’s economic growth and demographic balance, as well as for its humanitarian commitments.
Fraser said that reducing immigration levels was not the solution to the housing problem.
He said that the government was working on other measures to increase the supply and affordability of housing, such as investing in social housing, regulating short-term rentals, and cracking down on money laundering and speculation.
He also said that the government was reviewing its immigration programs to ensure they were aligned with Canada’s needs and values.
He said that foreign students were an important source of skilled workers and potential citizens for Canada, but that they had to meet certain criteria and follow the rules.
He said that the government would not tolerate any abuse or fraud in its immigration system.
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