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WES Weekly Roundup August 23, 2023

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World Education Services (WES) is a non-profit social enterprise dedicated to helping international students, immigrants, and refugees achieve their educational and career goals in the United States and Canada. The weekly roundup includes research, stories, and events of interest to the Canadian immigration and settlement community. This content has been created by WES and is reproduced here with their permission, in partnership.

Federal government should look at cap on student visas, Housing Minister Sean Fraser says (The Globe and Mail)

Housing Minister Sean Fraser suggests that the Canadian federal government should consider implementing a cap to the number of study permits issued due to an unprecedented growth in their numbers, risking additional strain on rental markets, increased costs, and exploitation of students. The number of international students in Canada has doubled since 2015, reaching 807,260 in 2022. Fraser highlights that temporary immigration programs, such as study permits, were not designed for such rapid expansion, particularly in concentrated regions, such as larger cities in Ontario and British Columbia, leading to high demand on both the job and housing markets. He emphasizes the need for collaboration with educational institutions to directly address housing challenges for these students. Fraser also notes concerns about certain private colleges exploiting the international student permit system, underscoring the importance of distinguishing these from institutions that are reputable. The federal government’s approach to affordable housing is in line with a report published last week offering recommendations to address the housing crisis, which partially attributes the strain in the housing economy to the influx of international students. Prime Minister Trudeau maintains his support for immigration growth and highlights its role in addressing Canada's housing shortage, stating the need for additional skilled labour in the construction industry.

Canada: rejected students offered new places (The Pie)

Canadian institution Northern College, recently revoked admission offers for 503 international students due to oversubscription at its partner institution. Now, the college is offering these affected students an opportunity to enroll at Centennial College in Toronto instead. Northern College stated that students can transfer to similar programs at Centennial with a goal to place them in the upcoming academic year. Around 335 students have expressed interest in this option, with 250 already applying for assessment. Centennial College's President, Craig Stephenson, expressed their commitment to assisting affected students and collaborating with government partners and BorderPass, a Canadian immigration platform. There won't be additional application costs, however, concerns and doubts have been raised about the process by students. Students had until August 17 to respond for consideration.

Study: Canadian postsecondary education and labour market outcomes of 2010 economic immigrants to Canada (Stats Canada)

The study conducted by Statistics Canada explores the postsecondary education and labour market outcomes of economic immigrants admitted in 2010, comparing those who pursued further education in Canada with those who did not. The research integrates data from the Longitudinal Immigration Database, the Postsecondary Student Information System, and the T1 Family File. Findings from the study reveal that some immigrants are more likely to complete Canadian postsecondary education, namely those from the Americas and Africa, women, those with higher initial educational levels, and those residing in Quebec. The study offers theories behind these trends, particularly regarding those from the Americas and Africa, and women, citing greater challenges in having their qualifications recognized, thus prompting their pursual of further Canadian education. While many immigrants returned to education at a similar or lower level, their labour market outcomes improved, with higher median employment income and lower rates of low income compared to those who did not pursue further education.

Refugee Resettlement Spotlight

Two years after Kabul's fall, Ottawa considering expansion of Afghan immigration program (CBC)

August 21 marked the two-year anniversary of the Taliban takeover of Kabul. The federal government is increasingly under pressure to accelerate the resettlement processes for Afghans fleeing Taliban rule. In response to the crisis, Canada has launched specialized humanitarian streams for Afghan nationals who have assisted the federal government, human rights defenders, journalists, at-risk minority groups, and their family members, with a target to resettle 40,000 refugees. Since August 2021, Canada has welcomed roughly 36,530 Afghans, however, many continue to wait for approval. Recently appointed Immigration Minister Marc Miller reassured advocates that there may be some flexibility to expand current humanitarian programming to support the most vulnerable, however it remains unclear what enhanced measures this change might feature.

A tale of two refugee systems in Canada (Rabble)

Advocacy groups allege disparities in Canada's handling of humanitarian crises, comparing responses for Afghan, Ukrainian, and Sudanese nationals. Special measures for Ukrainians have included the CUAET, waiving fees and expediting applications for Ukrainian nationals and their families to live, work, and study in Canada. More than 170,000 people obtained emergency visas under the program. As of July, the program has been extended to March 2024, with the addition of a pathway to permanent residency. Alternatively, while over 36,000 Afghans have arrived, there remains a lack of clarity on what program expansion would feature to support the thousands of evacuees waiting in limbo due to backlogs and other 'logistical' issues cited by IRCC. The federal government has denied additional supports to some municipalities facing funding shortfalls for housing services; resulting in hundreds of asylum seekers and refugees seeking shelter on the streets, many of whom are reportedly from African countries including Uganda and Sudan. In response, groups of black-led human rights and/or faith-based organizations stepped in to provide shelter and essentials to asylum seekers across regions affected. Similar measures have been taken across Canada, where community-based organizations are forming coalitions to support resettlement efforts; urging IRCC and other stakeholders to uphold equitable practices.

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