ARCHIVED — Vol. 146, No. 52 — December 29, 2012

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Regulations Amending the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations

Statutory authority

Immigration and Refugee Protection Act

Sponsoring department and agency

Department of Citizenship and Immigration and Canada Border Services Agency

REGULATORY IMPACT ANALYSIS STATEMENT

(This statement is not part of the Regulations.)

Executive summary

Issues: International student related fraud poses risks to the immigration system and to public safety. Some foreign nationals use study permits as a means to enter Canada for purposes other than study, including conducting illegal activities. Some educational institutions take advantage of international students by promising programs of study they are unauthorized or unequipped to deliver, while others operate as visa mills with the sole purpose of facilitating the entry of foreign nationals into Canada. Such activities hurt Canada’s international reputation and may discourage prospective international students from choosing Canada as their study destination. The lack of clear requirements for both international students and the institutions that host them makes Canada vulnerable to this type of unlawful activity.

Description: The proposed regulatory amendments would limit the issuance of study permits to only international students attending designated learning institutions defined in the proposed Regulations, which include institutions designated by a provincial/territorial (PT) ministry of education. Proposed amendments would also ensure that international students are enrolled at a designated institution and actively pursuing studies while in Canada on a study permit. Further, amendments would allow eligible temporary residents in Canada to apply for a study permit from within the country, streamline work permit access to international students attending designated learning institutions, and provide certain study permit holders with the automatic authority to work part-time off-campus. The proposed Regulations would also allow issuance of removal orders in circumstances where students are not complying with new study permit conditions. Finally, the proposed Regulations would address technical issues in the wording of the current Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (the “Regulations”), as identified by the Standing Joint Committee for the Scrutiny of Regulations (SJCSR).

Cost-benefit statement: The total estimated costs for the analysis period (2013–2022) are estimated to be $528.6 million in present value (PV). The total benefits resulting from the proposed Regulations are estimated to be $520.8 million (PV). This results in a net cost of $7.8 million dollars (PV) which equates to a net cost of $0.8 million per year. Despite these monetized costs, there are significant qualitative benefits that outweigh the net costs, including improved fraud deterrence, enhanced safety and security of Canadians, and improved competitiveness of Canada’s education brand.

“One-for-One” Rule and small business lens: The small business lens and “One-for-One” Rule do not apply. The regulatory proposal would not impose requirements on business. Businesses would not have a direct reporting relationship with Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC).

Domestic and international coordination and cooperation: In support of proposed regulatory amendments requiring study permit holders to attend designated learning institutions, including those designated by provinces and territories, PT governments have established, in consultation with CIC, a proposed pan-Canadian policy framework that would guide the designation of educational institutions for the purpose of hosting international students through a set of common minimum designation standards.

Background

Citizenship and Immigration Canada, in cooperation with the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), is responsible for managing the entry of foreign nationals into Canada for study purposes by ensuring applicants meet the necessary admissibility criteria, including having the proper documentation, and financial and security requirements. The bona fides, or honest intentions, of all applicants are also assessed. CIC is also responsible for programs that provide work opportunities for certain of these international students, as well as policies and programs governing the transition of international students from temporary to permanent resident status. The Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (the “Act”) and the Regulations provide the legislative framework for these activities.

While CIC officers screen all visa-requiring foreign nationals seeking travel to Canada, including international students, the CBSA determines admissibility at the port of entry, investigates immigration violations and removes persons who are not authorized to stay in Canada.

Provinces and territories are constitutionally responsible for education. All regulate and have quality assurance mechanisms for public educational institutions (including universities and primary/secondary schools) and private degree-granting institutions (including private universities and colleges). Private, non-degree-granting career colleges are subject to varying levels of regulation in each jurisdiction, and some of them are not regulated at all. The private language school sector in Canada is not regulated in any jurisdiction. Provinces and territories do not currently play a role in the selection or monitoring of educational institutions that recruit and accept international students for study purposes. Some student work permit programs, however, are delivered with assistance from provinces and territories through bilateral arrangements, which specify criteria for educational institution participation. The Government of Canada and PT governments are increasingly invested in promoting Canadian education overseas, and recognize the value of recruiting more international students to support economic growth and to address social, demographic and labour market needs over the short and long terms.

In 2006, the CBSA — Pacific Region prepared Student Fraud in the Pacific Region, (see footnote 1) a report which highlighted the CBSA’s uncovering of several hundred cases of alleged fraud within the International Student Program (ISP) in the Pacific Region. These cases involved instances of non-genuine students who enter Canada with no intention of studying, non-genuine institutions that do not physically exist and/or misrepresent their services, genuine institutions targeted by fraud, fraudulent documents, and consultants alleged to be complicit in immigration fraud. Some of the students uncovered in the investigation were linked to organized criminal activities such as prostitution, drug trafficking and gun smuggling. The CBSA assessed that student-related fraud poses risks to the immigration program’s integrity, and to public safety and national security.

The CBSA — Pacific Region Report sparked a CIC-led review of the ISP in 2008. The purpose of the review was to examine the scope of fraud within the program and identify ways to improve its integrity. The review highlighted the lack of data collection by CIC on incidents of fraud within the ISP and the Department’s inability to share its limited data on international student fraud with provinces and territories. It also noted the lack of clear roles and responsibilities for provinces and territories in the management of the ISP. The review recommended creating better information exchange systems, as well as increasing the responsibilities of provinces and territories and their educational institutions in monitoring and reporting on international students within their jurisdiction.

The 2008 ISP review resulted in a 2010 report produced by CIC, Evaluation of the International Student Program, (see footnote 2) which identified integrity gaps within the ISP, including non-genuine students and questionable educational institutions. The report noted that current efforts to mitigate the risk of fraud and misuse were varied due to the lack of an established system for data gathering and consistent reporting from host educational institutions. The report noted the need for the federal government to work with provinces and territories within areas of their jurisdiction, including standards in education, in order to protect Canada’s reputation and ensure that the ISP continues to benefit the country.

In June 2010, federal–PT ministers of immigration committed to “work together to ensure that Canada continues to improve its standing as a destination of choice for international students seeking a quality education.” (see footnote 3) In August of that same year, through the Council of the Federation, premiers directed ministers of education to work with PT ministers of immigration to develop an international education marketing action plan by March 2011, and to work with the federal government to address key barriers in attracting international students.

Finally, the Advisory Panel on Canada’s International Education Strategy was named on October 13, 2011, to provide guidance and direction for the development, implementation and evaluation of an International Education Strategy for Canada. The panel, made up of five appointed industry experts and chaired by Dr. Amit Chakma, President and Vice-Chancellor at Western University, advised on a range of issues and made recommendations to ministers of finance and trade to support Canada’s various education sectors. The report (see footnote 4) was released on August 14, 2012. It placed strong emphasis on high quality study permit applications, quality education and services offered by Canadian educational institutions, and ensuring that the entry and retention of international students is well facilitated.

Compared to its key competitors for international students, Canada is the only country that has not put in place an ISP integrity framework that requires international students to pursue study after entry, and that limits the types of educational institutions that are eligible to host international students. The number of international students choosing Canada as a study destination has been on the rise in recent years. In 2011, 98 378 international students entered Canada, an increase of 34% since 2007. A 2010 study commissioned by Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada (DFAIT) found international students contributed more than $6.5 billion to the Canadian economy in 2008. Despite these successes, the ISP continues to be vulnerable to fraud and abuse from those who would exploit for personal gain either study permit holders or the program itself.

Issue

Under the Act and the Regulations, study permits can be issued to students attending any type of educational institution, whether or not it is accredited, regulated, or overseen by a PT ministry of education, or accountable to a recognized standard-setting body. As a result, the educational institutions that currently host international students vary widely in terms of quality and accountability. In some cases, these institutions take advantage of international students by offering subpar education, or promise courses or programs of study that they are unauthorized or unequipped to deliver. Such activities hurt Canada’s international reputation. Other educational institutions are involved in more unscrupulous activities, such as operating as so-called “visa mills” with the sole purpose of facilitating the entry of foreign nationals into Canada. In these instances, some foreign nationals use study permits as a means to enter Canada for purposes other than study.

Students who have not registered or attended classes for extended periods of time, but who hold valid study permits, can remain legally in Canada until the expiration of their study permit. This allows foreign nationals to use the study program as a means to enter Canada for a certain duration of time under the pretence of studying and with no requirement to study. This poses integrity concerns for CIC’s ISP.

Citizenship and Immigration Canada and CBSA have identified concerns related to work undertaken by international students attending some private unregulated educational institutions. The ISP has been abused by these educational institutions and complicit employers have misused the ISP in order to facilitate the entry of low-skilled workers into the Canadian labour market. While current Regulations allow international students to access limited work opportunities during studies under international student work permit programs (on-campus, off-campus and co-op/internship programs), in some cases, non-genuine students use their study permit as a primary means to gain full access to the Canadian labour market.

Recommendations of the Standing Joint Committee for the Scrutiny of Regulations

The Standing Joint Committee for the Scrutiny of Regulations (SJCSR) identified technical concerns with sections of the Regulations that relate to the ISP.

Objectives

The overall objective of these proposed amendments would be to strengthen the integrity of Canada’s immigration program by requiring study permit holders to actively pursue their studies, reducing the number of non-genuine and poor quality educational institutions hosting study permit holders, and facilitating the entry into Canada of those foreign nationals that sincerely wish to obtain a Canadian education.

The proposed amendments to the Regulations would

  • limit issuance of study permits to students attending designated learning institutions, including those designated by a PT ministry of education to host international students, except in the case of visitors who wish to undertake courses or programs of study of six months or less for which a study permit is not required;
  • establish new study permit conditions requiring all students to enrol in and actively pursue a course or program of study after arrival in Canada;
  • provide exemptions to protected persons, refugee claimants and certain family members from the proposed conditions on study permit holders;
  • allow issuance of removal orders in circumstances where students are not complying with their study permit conditions;
  • authorize temporary residents already in Canada to apply for a study permit from within Canada if they are studying at the preschool, primary or secondary level, or have completed a course or program of study that is a condition for acceptance at a designated learning institution;
  • limit access to international student work permit programs to eligible study permit holders attending a designated educational learning institution; and
  • authorize international students attending designated institutions to work part-time during their studies provided they hold a valid study permit and are enrolled full-time in an academic, vocational, or professional training program of a duration of at least six months.

This proposal would also harmonize and strengthen overall policy pertaining to temporary residents, which include international students and temporary foreign workers. For example, 2010 amendments to the Regulations pertaining to temporary foreign workers increased Temporary Foreign Worker Program integrity through measures that included employer monitoring and compliance measures, as well as measures that strengthened worker protection.

This proposal would also offer greater protection to temporary residents and more assurances to Canadians that temporary residents would have a positive impact on Canadian society and the Canadian labour market. These changes would also bring Canada’s policies more closely in line with those of other countries, such as the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia.

Additionally, the proposed Regulations would harmonize French and English versions, eliminate redundancy, and clarify certain expressions and definitions.

Description

The proposed amendments to the Regulations would limit issuance of study permits to students attending designated learning institutions, including those designated by a PT ministry of education to host international students. Individuals who wish to undertake courses or programs of study of six months or less, for which a study permit is not required, would continue to be able to pursue studies at a non-designated learning institution as members of the visitor class. CIC would not play an active role in educational institution designation processes undertaken by provinces and territories; its role would be limited primarily to applying the list of designated learning institutions provided by provinces and territories when processing study permit applications.

If PT ministries of education do not designate educational institutions or enter into federal–PT Memoranda of Understanding or agreements, the proposed Regulations would give CIC the authority to limit issuance of study permits to those institutions currently recognized or authorized by a PT ministry of education, including a public post-secondary or private degree-granting institution that is recognized by the province, a private post-secondary institution in Quebec that operates under the same rules and regulations as public post-secondary institutions, an institution within a public school board or district that is funded by and accountable to the province, or an independent or private institution that delivers provincial curricula.

Certain foreign nationals who wish to apply for a study permit to attend a designated institution after they have entered Canada as a temporary resident, including those studying at the pre-school, primary or secondary level, or those who have completed a course or program of study that is a condition for acceptance at a designated institution, would be authorized under the proposed Regulations to apply for a study permit from within Canada instead of being required, as they are now, to leave the country to apply from abroad. This change would facilitate the transition from visitor to study permit holder for minor students once they reach the age of majority, as well as for those students who wish to transition from a short-term preparatory to a longer-term college or university program.

The proposed regulatory amendments would establish new study permit conditions requiring students to enrol in and actively pursue a course or program of study at a designated institution after arrival in Canada. Protected persons, refugee claimants and certain family members would, however, be exempted from new study permit conditions. The proposed amendments would also allow CIC and CBSA officers to monitor compliance and undertake investigation or enforcement action against study permit holders who fail to actively pursue studies at a designated learning institution, potentially leading to their removal from Canada. Enforcement actions could include desk investigations undertaken by CIC or investigations undertaken by the CBSA regarding student compliance with study permit conditions and possible removals from Canada. The proposed Regulations would allow for issuance of a removal order in circumstances where students are not complying with new study permit conditions, rather than being referred to the Immigration Division of the Immigration and Refugee Board for a hearing.

The proposed Regulations would revise access to work permit programs by authorizing international students attending designated learning institutions to work both on or off-campus. Consequently, this proposed amendment would extend access to off-campus work to designated private career colleges. The proposed amendments would also automatically authorize full-time international students attending designated institutions to work off-campus for the duration of their study permit for up to 20 hours per week provided they hold a valid study permit and are enrolled in a post-secondary academic, vocational or professional training program of at least six months at a designated institution. This proposed amendment replaces the existing program design which requires study permit holders to wait six months after beginning their program of study before applying separately for an off-campus work permit. This would represent time and cost savings to students who no longer need to apply and pay for a separate work permit, and for CIC as it would no longer process off-campus work permit applications.

Upon the coming into force of these proposed Regulations, those students who already hold a study permit and are studying at a non-designated learning institution would be permitted to complete the program of study in which they were enrolled for the duration of that permit, and to obtain an extension for this purpose for the remainder of the duration of their program of study or until the date that is three years after the day on which the proposed Regulations come into force, whichever comes first. The condition of actively pursuing studies would immediately be effective at the coming into force of the Regulations, and therefore, the option to issue a removal order for not actively pursuing studies would also be in place immediately.

Regulatory and non-regulatory options considered

Operationally, and particularly at some overseas missions known to have a high incidence of fraud with respect to study permit applications, CIC and the CBSA rely on interviews of applicants to identify and deter associated fraudulent documentation, or to assess the bona fide or genuine intentions of the applicant. While the use of interviews requires resources, such interviews have gone some way towards identifying and deterring non-genuine students from entering Canada.

Citizenship and Immigration Canada officers also use public notices and orders issued by some provinces and territories regarding schools that are not conducting their business in accordance with PT laws. For example, in July 2011, CIC issued operational bulletins to immigration officers to identify existing lists of private career colleges that are identified by PT regulatory bodies as having been suspended or closed, and to clarify that study permits should not be issued to students destined to these schools. Currently, only two jurisdictions publish these types of lists.

While CIC and the CBSA become aware of study permit holders who are not actually pursuing study, including through information received by educational institutions, because there is no regulatory requirement for an international student to pursue study after entering Canada, the CBSA cannot take enforcement action for this reason only. At the time of an application for renewal of a study permit, CIC does have the regulatory authority to request evidence of good standing from applicants; this goes some way towards identifying some students not actually pursuing study in Canada; however, this only addresses a proportion of the total student population.

While CIC makes available general information about the various education sectors in Canada, including basic information regarding their regulatory oversight, there are limits to the ability of CIC and the CBSA to address concerns from international students about low-quality schools which may promise them more than they actually deliver, given that education falls solely under PT jurisdiction. Officers do spend time and resources assessing the genuineness of institutions, especially those in less regulated sectors. This approach does not, however, adequately reflect PT responsibility for education and in some cases results in processing delays.

In summary, CIC and the CBSA could continue to operate in the absence of regulatory changes; however, this would not address key program integrity concerns and would continue to lead to processing inefficiencies on the part of CIC.

Benefits and costs

The following table provides an overview of the cost-benefit analysis (CBA) results. The costs and benefits analysis period begins in fall 2013. The first full year of impacts would be 2014. The total benefits for the period of analysis (2013–2022) are estimated to be $520.8 million in present value (PV) terms. The total costs resulting from the proposed Regulations are estimated to be $528.6 million (PV). This results in a total net cost of $7.8 million dollars (PV) over the study period, or similarly, a net cost of $0.8 million per year.

Costs, benefits and distribution

Base Year 2013

Year Five 2017

Final Year 2022

Total

Annual Average

A. Quantified impacts in millions of present value dollars

Benefits

Stakeholders

         

Processing cost savings — Work and study permits

CIC

2.8M

3.4M

2.9M

32.2M

3.2M

Increased tuition revenue

Designated education sector

17.5M

46.7M

39.5M

488.6M

48.9M

Total benefits

 

20.3M

50.1M

42.4M

520.8M

52.1M

Costs

Stakeholders

         

Transition costs

CIC

0.1M

0.0M

0.0M

0.1M

0.0M

Enforcement and compliance costs

Government of Canada and international students

0.0M

1.2M

1.1M

10.7M

1.1M

Decreased tuition revenue

Non-designated education sector

41.9M

48.7M

41.2M

517.8M

51.8M

Total costs

 

42.0M

49.9M

42.2M

528.6M

52.9M

Net benefits (NPV)

–7.8M

–0.8M

B. Quantified impacts in non dollars

Positive impacts

Deterred non-genuine students

2 031

4 660

5 535

45 614

4 561

C. Qualitative impacts

Benefits

Stakeholders

Description of benefit

Improved fraud deterrence

Canadians, Canadian education sector

Increased integrity of the Canadian ISP

Improved competitiveness of Canada’s education brand and Canadian educational institutions

Foreign nationals studying in Canada

Enhanced consumer protection, more facilitative study and work permit application processes, and improved client service that will attract a larger share of the international student market

Improved management of the ISP

CIC, provinces and territories, Canadian public

More appropriate and efficient use of CIC resources

Enhanced marketability of educational institutions

Canadian education sector

Stronger demand for studies in Canada

Enhanced safety and security

Canadian citizens

Reductions in non-genuine students entering Canada, including those potentially participating in criminal or illegal activity

Costs

Stakeholders

Description of cost

Business impact

Non-designated learning institutions

Potential adjustments to adapt study programs

Distributional impacts

Once implemented, the proposed amendments are expected to result in a cost of $528.6 million, of which $517.8 million is due to a loss of tuition to non-designated Canadian learning institutions. These costs are offset by a gain in tuition revenue to designated learning institutions of $488.6 million, and processing cost savings of $32.2 million for the Government of Canada.

After considering the many qualitative benefits, such as improved fraud deterrence, improved safety and security of Canadians, enhanced competitiveness of Canada’s education brand and educational institutions, and improved integrity of the ISP, the cost-benefit analysis demonstrates that the benefits to Canadians, the Government of Canada and the broader Canadian economy significantly outweigh the costs.

Distributional analysis

The cost-benefit analysis assumes that provinces and territories would designate educational institutions in their respective jurisdictions post-Regulations. The analysis also takes a conservative approach by assuming that provinces and territories would, at the outset, designate public, post-secondary and private, degree-granting institutions but would not immediately be in a position to designate most private, non-degree institutions, although these may be designated over time. According to the analysis, educational institutions would, therefore, experience significant impacts due to the proposed regulatory changes. Virtually all the monetized costs associated with the proposed Regulations that were considered by the analysis are expected to take the form of lost tuition revenue by non-designated learning institutions. These schools would still retain the ability to host international students for programs of less than six months, mitigating some of the loss in tuition revenue.

The full CBA is available upon request.

“One-for-One” Rule

The “One-for-One” Rule would not apply. The regulatory proposal would not impose requirements on business. Businesses would not have a direct reporting relationship with CIC. Any administrative burden on business with respect to a designation process for the purpose of identifying which educational institution can host international students would be at the request of provinces and territories, which have full jurisdiction over education.

Small business lens

The small business lens does not apply to this proposal because the burden of reporting on study permit compliance would fall on students. CIC would request study permit holders to provide evidence, which could include proof of tuition payment and/or academic transcripts, for example, to verify that they are maintaining their compliance with study permit conditions. While institutions may be required to provide transcripts or tuition receipts to international students, they do so already on a fee-for-service basis. There is thus no incremental burden on institutions. Any burden on small business with respect to a designation process for the purpose of identifying which educational institutions can host international students would be at the request of provinces and territories, which have full jurisdiction over education.

Consultation

In 2010, CIC and provinces and territories began formal discussions regarding the implications of the proposed Regulations on education, a PT area of jurisdiction. CIC and provinces and territories first formally engaged key stakeholder groups, including major education associations and organizations representing both educational institutions and students, in November 2010, by providing information on proposed policy and regulatory directions to address ISP integrity issues. Since then, CIC has held bilateral discussions with major education associations, including the Canadian Bureau of International Education, the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada, the Association of Canadian Community Colleges, Languages Canada, the Canadian Alliance of Public Schools-International, and the National Association of Career Colleges. CIC also published a Notice of Intent in the Canada Gazette, Part Ⅰ, on June 30, 2012, in order to inform the public of CIC’s intention to undertake regulatory amendments pertaining to the ISP. The intention was to allow the Department to provide information on the proposed amendments to a broad audience, and allow members of the public and key stakeholders to provide their feedback.

Citizenship and Immigration Canada received 71 responses to the Notice of Intent. The vast majority of responses were from education associations and individual institutions in both the public and private sectors. Overall, all respondents were supportive of the proposal and expressed interest in learning further details on how the proposed Regulations would be implemented and the impacts they may have on international students, educational institutions and provinces and territories. Some respondents raised concerns, the majority of which related to the ability for institutions to be designated for the purpose of hosting international students. Many respondents representing private education sectors also advocated for access to CIC’s work permit programs.

Additional consultations would be undertaken jointly by CIC and provinces and territories with key national and PT stakeholders in international education during the prepublication consultation phase. Discussions would focus on PT designation policies and processes related to educational institutions as well as an overview of the proposed regulatory changes and how they would be implemented. As the primary link to educational institutions and international students, these associations are well-positioned to inform CIC and provinces and territories of the benefits, potential challenges and overall impacts the proposed changes may have. Therefore, their input and feedback would be valuable to informing discussions and decisions between CIC and provinces and territories on proposed changes to the ISP.

Regulatory cooperation

The Government of Quebec has indicated that it would need to align its regulatory scheme with the proposed federal amendments. Other PT governments may also be required to implement regulatory or legislative amendments in order to be able to designate educational institutions in all education sectors, most notably those that are not currently regulated, recognized or authorized by a PT ministry of education. Although it would be preferable that PT designation processes, including related supporting regulatory or legislative amendments, be completed by the coming into force date of these proposed Regulations, should provinces and territories be unable to provide a list of designated institutions to CIC in time for the coming into force of the Regulations, CIC would issue study permits to the types of public and private educational institutions listed in the proposed Regulations.

The proposed Regulations are consistent with the spirit of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program integrity measures launched in 2010. The 2010 amendments to the Regulations pertaining to temporary foreign workers strengthened worker protection and improved facilitative processes between federal–PT governments. These amendments also increased the integrity of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program through measures that included employer monitoring and compliance enforcement. The proposed amendments to the ISP would harmonize and strengthen overall temporary resident policy in Canada to offer greater protection to temporary residents and more assurances to Canadians that temporary residents would have a positive impact on Canadian society, the Canadian labour market and the education sector.

The proposed Regulations also bring Canada into greater alignment with competitor countries for international students. A key difference between Canada and international education competitor countries (Australia, United Kingdom, United States) is that, unlike Canada, these countries allow only certain institutions to accept international students. They also require international students to meet attendance and academic standing requirements, and have authorities to remove those students who do not meet these requirements. The Australian government sets quality assurance standards for public and private education providers seeking to host international students. It also requires them to monitor student attendance and academic progress throughout their stay. Education providers that do not meet quality assurance standards are not permitted to accept international students. The United Kingdom requires education providers to meet minimum quality assurance standards and track student attendance and academic progress. The United States also only permits international students to study at schools certified to host international students through the United States Department of Homeland Security’s Student Exchange and Visitor Program and has mechanisms in place to monitor student study activities.

Additionally, the proposed Regulations would strengthen Canada’s position as a destination of choice for international students seeking a quality education, a move aligned with efforts being undertaken by DFAIT to increase the numbers of international students through greater promotional work.

Rationale

As described above, non-regulatory initiatives have been undertaken by CIC to address concerns about ISP integrity; however, the initiatives are not sufficient or robust enough in resolving these concerns over the longer term. In particular, limited tools are available under the Regulations to identify and enforce removals of international students who fail to pursue studies once in Canada. Under the status quo, loopholes would continue to be available to those who wish to enter Canada or facilitate entry into Canada under a stream that places no conditions on foreign nationals to fulfill their original intent to study. This not only undermines the integrity of the immigration system, but it also fails to protect Canada’s brand as a destination for studies. The proposed regulatory amendments would not only act as a deterrent to those who would abuse the program, but also allow the Government to monitor compliance with new study permit conditions and undertake appropriate enforcement action.

Although the proposed regulatory amendments would have a net monetized cost, the non-monetized benefits would outweigh the costs. In conjunction with current non-regulatory measures, regulatory amendments would enhance the integrity of Canada’s ISP; reduce fraud; and ensure Canada remains a destination of choice for international students seeking a quality education, including supporting efforts being undertaken by DFAIT to strengthen Canada’s education brand.

The proposed Regulations would harmonize and strengthen overall temporary resident policy in Canada to offer greater protection to temporary residents and more assurances to Canadians that temporary residents would have a positive impact on Canadian society and the Canadian labour market. Additionally, provinces and territories are increasingly invested in promoting their institutions overseas, and recognize the value of recruiting more international students to address social, demographic and labour market needs over the short and long terms.

This proposal supports recent mandates announced by Canada’s premiers through the intergovernmental group, the Council of the Federation, and PT ministers of immigration and education to work with the federal government to address key barriers in attracting international students, increase numbers of international students, and explore ways to enhance student visa-processing operations.

These proposed amendments would offer greater security in the temporary movement of international students in Canada by enabling CIC to monitor their compliance with study permit conditions, and withdraw the legal status of international students who fail to meet these conditions. This proposal would also contribute to the coordinated effort of the Government of Canada to eliminate human trafficking and illegal sex trade work in Canada. In its 2010 report Human Trafficking in Canada, (see footnote 5) the Royal Canadian Mounted Police noted that some migrant sex workers pay facilitators to obtain “student visas” (i.e. study permits) in order for them to gain entry into Canada for the purpose of performing illegal activities in the sex trade.

It is also expected that, as a result of this proposal, CIC would gain processing efficiencies. Since CIC officials would have access to a list of designated learning institutions, it is expected that CIC officials would have to spend less time than they do now assessing suspicious or less known schools, a step which adds to processing delays. Further, compliance data on international student trends after arrival in Canada, which is currently not available, would allow CIC officials to adjust processing based on actual risk, allowing them to more quickly process lower-risk applications. Finally, the elimination of separate work permit applications for off-campus work frees up processing resources for other priorities.

Implementation, enforcement and service standards

Citizenship and Immigration Canada anticipates beginning implementation of these changes in January 2014. Changes would be made to the electronic immigration processing system (the Global Case Management System, GCMS) and additional information would be added to CIC’s and CBSA’s Web sites which would allow CIC and CBSA officers to limit study permit issuance to those students destined to a list of designated learning institutions. CIC and the CBSA would also amend application forms, update field manuals, and train officers on their roles in implementing the proposed Regulations. A communications plan would be developed jointly by CIC and CBSA in order to clearly articulate changes and their impacts on international students and Canadian educational institutions. This plan would include updates to CIC’s Web site and may include further outreach activities such as public announcements to further inform stakeholder groups of upcoming changes.

Once the proposed Regulations come into force, CIC would undertake compliance monitoring of study permit holders in order to verify compliance with new study permit conditions. Study permit holders may be asked to produce evidence of their compliance such as tuition receipts and academic transcripts. CIC and CBSA officers would have the ability to take enforcement action against a foreign national who fails to actively pursue studies at a designated educational institution while on a study permit in Canada, potentially leading to their removal from Canada. Enforcement activities could be carried out through existing funding sources and based on current priority levels.

Citizenship and Immigration Canada’s current service standard for processing of study permit applications is 28 days; this time frame is not expected to change in the short term as a result of the implementation of the regulatory amendments. Performance monitoring measurement standards would remain in place, and would be amended as required.

Performance measurement and evaluation

A performance measurement and evaluation plan has been developed for the proposed regulatory amendments. It is available upon request.

Overall, measures have been developed to look at the impacts of the proposed Regulations at three levels of outcomes:

Immediate outcomes are those that occur in the short term and are divided into five streams which are chiefly influenced by the behaviour of international students as a direct and immediate result of the proposed regulatory amendments. The immediate outcomes are the following:

  • International students apply to designated Canadian institutions;
  • Officers act on non-compliant students that are identified;
  • Study permit holders are facilitated to work part-time during their studies;
  • Regulations deter non-genuine students from applying; and
  • Eligible visitors are able to apply in Canada for study permits.

Intermediate outcomes reflect CIC’s desired longer-term outcomes for international students and the ISP as a result of the proposed Regulations. The intermediate outcomes of this proposal are the following:

  • Improved integrity of the ISP;
  • Genuine international students are actively participating in their studies; and
  • Improved competitiveness of the ISP.

The final outcome occurs as a result of the achievement of the intermediate outcomes and reflects an overall goal of the Government of Canada vis-à-vis international students which is supported by the proposed regulatory amendments:

  • Canada is a destination of choice for international students seeking a quality education.

It should be acknowledged that as a result of this proposal, it is anticipated that the number of international student entries to Canada may decrease slightly after the first year of implementation. This would be in part because non-genuine international students may be deterred from applying to study in Canada as a result of stricter rules, or because students undertake short-term studies as visitors if the institution to which they have been accepted has not been designated to receive international students. After the initial year, however, international student entries to Canada are expected to increase, given that Canada would be a more attractive study destination as a result of both new facilitative measures, and the ability for institutions, provinces and territories, and DFAIT to market a quality Canadian education experience with greater confidence. It is also expected that there may be, over the longer term, an increase in approval rates and processing times for study permit applications, given increased confidence on the part of CIC officers regarding the educational institutions to which students are destined. Additionally, new data on study permit compliance rates would assist officers in adjusting processing according to level of risk.

An evaluation of the ISP is currently scheduled to begin in fiscal year 2013–14. Given this regulatory proposal is anticipated to come into force in 2014, its impacts would be examined during the following evaluation anticipated for fiscal year 2018–19. The evaluation will be planned and conducted by the CIC Evaluation Division, and will examine the two main issues of relevance and performance in accordance with the Treasury Board Secretariat Policy on Evaluation.

Contact

Philippe Massé
Director
Temporary Resident Policy and Programs
Citizenship and Immigration Canada
365 Laurier Avenue W, 8th Floor
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 1L1
Telephone: 613-957-0001
Fax: 613-954-0850
Email: philippe.masse@cic.gc.ca

PROPOSED REGULATORY TEXT

Notice is given that the Governor in Council, pursuant to subsection 5(1) and sections 14, 32 (see footnote a) and 53 (see footnote b) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (see footnote c), proposes to make the annexed Regulations Amending the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations.

Interested persons may make representations concerning the proposed Regulations within 45 days after the date of publication of this notice. All such representations must cite the Canada Gazette, Part Ⅰ, and the date of publication of this notice, and be addressed to Philippe Massé, Director, Temporary Resident Policy and Programs, Citizenship and Immigration Canada, 365 Laurier Avenue West, 8th Floor, Ottawa, Ontario K1A 1L1 (tel.: 613-957-0001; fax: 613-954-0850; email: philippe.masse@cic.gc.ca).

Ottawa, December 13, 2012

JURICA ČAPKUN
Assistant Clerk of the Privy Council

REGULATIONS AMENDING THE IMMIGRATION AND REFUGEE PROTECTION REGULATIONS

AMENDMENTS

1. The definitions “student”, “studies” and “study permit” in subsection 1(1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (see footnote 6) are repealed.

2. Section 182 of the Regulations is renumbered as subsection 182(1) and is amended by adding the following:

Exception

(2) Despite subsection (1), an officer shall not restore the status of a student who is not in compliance with a condition set out in subsection 220.1(1).

3. Paragraph 183(1)(c) of the Regulations is replaced by the following:

  • (c) to not study, unless authorized by the Act, this Part, or Part 12.

4. Section 186 of the Regulations is amended by adding the following after paragraph (f):

  • (f.1) if they are the holder of a study permit, and
    • (i) they are a full-time student enrolled in a post-secondary academic, vocational or professional training program at a designated learning institution of a duration of six months or more that leads to a degree, diploma or certificate, and

    • (ii) they work no more than 20 hours per week in any period during which courses in the program are ongoing;

5. Subparagraph 205(c)(i) of the Regulations is replaced by the following:

  • (i) the work is related to a research program,

  • (i.1) the work is an essential part of a post-secondary academic, vocational or professional training program offered by a designated learning institution, or

6. The Regulations are amended by adding the following before section 210:

Definitions

209.1 The following definitions apply in this Part.

  • “designated learning institution”
    « établissement d’enseignement désigné »
  • “designated learning institution” means
    • (a) a learning institution that is administered by a federal department or agency;

    • (b) if a province has entered into an agreement with the Minister in respect of learning institutions that host international students, a learning institution in Canada that is designated by that province under the agreement; and

    • (c) if a province has not entered into an agreement with the Minister in respect of learning institutions that host international students, any of the following:
      • (i) a public post-secondary learning institution in Canada that is recognized by the province,

      • (ii) in the case of Quebec, a private post-secondary learning institution in Quebec that operates under the same rules and regulations as public post-secondary learning institutions in Quebec,

      • (iii) a private post-secondary learning institution in Canada that is recognized by the province and that is authorized by the province to confer degrees, but only in the case where the foreign national in question is enrolled in a program of study that leads to a degree as authorized by the province,

      • (iv) a learning institution within a public school board or district that is funded by and accountable to the province, or

      • (v) an independent or private learning institution in Canada that delivers provincial curricula.
  • “studies”
    « études »
  • “studies” includes any academic, professional, vocational or other education or training.
  • “study permit”
    « permis d’études »
  • “study permit” means a written authorization to engage in studies in Canada that is issued by an officer to a foreign national.

List of provinces

209.2 The Minister shall make public a list of those provinces with which the Minister has entered into an agreement in respect of learning institutions that host international students.

7. Section 212 of the Regulations is replaced by the following:

Authorization

212. A foreign national may not study in Canada unless authorized to do so by the Act, a study permit or these Regulations.

8. Section 214 of the Regulations is amended by adding “or” at the end of paragraph (c), by striking out “or” at the end of paragraph (d) and by repealing paragraph (e).

9. Subsection 215(1) of the Regulations is amended by striking out “or” at the end of paragraph (f), by adding “or” at the end of paragraph (g) and by adding the following after paragraph (g):

  • (h) are a temporary resident who
    • (i) is studying at the pre-school, primary or secondary level; or

    • (ii) has completed a course or program of study that is a precondition to their enrolling at a designated learning institution.

10. Subsection 216(1) of the Regulations is amended by striking out “and” at the end of paragraph (c), by adding “and’’ at the end of paragraph (d) and by adding the following after paragraph (d):

  • (e) has been accepted to undertake a program of study at a designated learning institution.

11. Subsection 217(1) of the Regulations is amended by adding “and” at the end of paragraph (a), by striking out “and” at the end of paragraph (b) and by repealing paragraph (c).

12. (1) Subsection 219(1) of the Regulations is replaced by the following:

Acceptance letter

219. (1) A study permit shall not be issued to a foreign national unless they have written documentation from the designated learning institution at which they intend to study that states that they have been accepted to study there.

(2) Subsection 219(2) of the Regulations is amended by striking out “or” at the end of paragraph (a) and by repealing paragraph (b).

(3) Subsection 219(3) of the Regulations is repealed.

13. The Regulations are amended by adding the following after section 220:

Conditions of study permit

220.1 (1) The holder of a study permit in Canada is subject to the following conditions:

  • (a) they shall enrol at a designated learning institution that offers courses or programs of study at the level set out in their permit and remain enrolled at such an institution; and

  • (b) they shall actively pursue their course or program of study.

Loss of designation

(2) In the event that the learning institution at which the holder of a study permit is enrolled loses its designated status after the issuance of the permit by reason either of the termination of the agreement between the province and the Minister under which the learning institution had been designated or the revocation of the designation by the province, subsection (1) shall apply to that person for the duration of their permit as if the learning institution at which they are enrolled were a designated learning institution.

Exception

(3) Subsection (1) does not apply to

  • (a) a protected person within the meaning of subsection 95(2) of the Act;

  • (b) a person who has claimed refugee protection — and their family members — if disposition of the claim is pending; or

  • (c) a family member of a foreign national whose application for a work permit or a study permit is approved in writing before the foreign national enters Canada.

Evidence of compliance with conditions

(4) The holder of a study permit must provide evidence to an officer of their compliance with the conditions set out in subsection (1) if

  • (a) the officer requests such evidence because they have reason to believe that the permit holder is not complying or has not complied with one or more of the conditions; or

  • (b) the officer requests such evidence as part of a random assessment of the overall level of compliance with those conditions by permit holders who are or were subject to them.

14. Subparagraph 228(1)(c)(v) of the Regulations is replaced by the following:

  • (v) failing to comply with subsection 29(2) of the Act as a result of failing to comply with any condition set out in section 184 or subsection 220.1(1), an exclusion order; and

TRANSITIONAL PROVISIONS

15. (1) Despite sections 13 and 14, paragraph 220.1(1)(a) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations does not apply in respect of a foreign national whose study permit was issued before the day on which these Regulations come into force, for the duration of that permit, and, if it is renewed in accordance with subsection (2), for the period that applies in accordance with that subsection.

(2) Despite sections 10 and 12, subsection 216(1) and section 219 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations, as they read immediately before the day on which these Regulations come into force, continue to apply in respect of a foreign national who is the holder of a study permit that was issued before the day on which these Regulations come into force and who applies for renewal of their permit to facilitate continuation of the program of study in which they were enrolled on the day on which these Regulations come into force, and the renewal shall be for the shorter of the following periods:

  • (a) the remainder of the duration of their program of study as of the day on which the permit is renewed, and

  • (b) the period that begins on the day on which the permit is renewed and ends on the day that is three years after the day on which these Regulations come into force.

(3) Despite section 5, subparagraph 205(c)(i) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations, as it read immediately before the day on which these Regulations come into force, continues to apply in respect of a foreign national who is the holder of a work permit that was issued under that provision before the day on which these Regulations come into force and who applies for renewal of their permit to facilitate continuation of the research, educational or training program to which their work relates, and the renewal shall be for the shorter of the following periods:

  • (a) the remainder of the duration of their research, educational or training program as of the day on which the permit is renewed, and

  • (b) the period that begins on the day on which the permit is renewed and ends on the day that is three years after the day on which these Regulations come into force.

COMING INTO FORCE

16. These Regulations come into force on January 1, 2014.

[52-1-o]

  • Footnote 1
    Government of Canada. Canada Border Services Agency. Student Fraud in the Pacific Region. Vancouver: 2006. Print.
  • Footnote 2
    Government of Canada. Citizenship and Immigration Canada. Evaluation of the International Student Program. Ottawa: 2010. Print.
  • Footnote 3
    Citizenship and Immigration Canada, News Release — Federal, provincial and territorial governments agree to improve Canada’s immigration system, June 15, 2010.
  • Footnote 4
    Advisory Panel on Canada’s International Education Strategy. International Education: A Key Driver of Canada’s Future Prosperity. 2012. Print.
  • Footnote 5
    Government of Canada. Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Human Trafficking in Canada: A Threat Assessment. Ottawa: 2010. Print.
  • Footnote a
    S.C. 2012, c. 19, s. 705
  • Footnote b
    S.C. 2012, c. 1, s. 150
  • Footnote c
    S.C. 2001, c. 27
  • Footnote 6
    SOR/2002-227