Canadian Study Permit Applications Surge In 2024, Enough For 36% of Cap

Canadian Study Permit Applications Surge In 2024, Enough For 36% of Cap

Canada found the solution to making study permits coveted again—imposing limits. After applications slowed and the housing crisis intensified, Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) announced it would tighten its study permit process. Shortly afterwards, application volumes surged, with the current year on track to be the busiest ever. Just the first two months of 2024 saw enough applications that it could fill over a third of the year’s cap. 

Canada Announces Study Permit Cap, Tighter Measures After Sudden Slowdown

Towards the end of January, Canada announced it would adopt its first study permit cap ever. The temporary measure will be in place for two years and places a limit of 350,000 on new study permits issued in 2024. Compared to last year’s data, the IRCC estimates it would be a 35% reduction. 

The measure comes as study permit applications had initially cooled on their own. After a boom that saw 1 in 48 people living in Canada on a study permit, the appeal began to fade. Various factors contributed to the slowdown, from rising diplomatic tensions with Canada’s largest source of students, to an increase in viral videos on the struggle intentional students have in the country, especially when it comes to housing. 

Annual growth of new permits in December (-26%) showed an abrupt and sharp decline. It firmed slightly in January (+1%), when the announcement  of a cap and higher minimum funds were announced, implying it would be more difficult in the not-so-distant future to study in Canada. 

New Study Permit Limit Creates FOMO, Applications Surge To Busiest Start On Record

The most recent data highlights just how much FOMO this created with a record number of applications suddenly flooding in. Monthly study permit applications showed 13% annual growth to 68,200 in February.  That’s already adding up to a really big year, which appears to have a FOMO effect ahead of tighter rules. 

Canadian New Study Permit Applications On Track For Massive Growth

Total year-to-date new study permit applications processed by the IRCC as of February per year.

Source: IRCC; Better Dwelling.

That sudden surge in February already makes this a big year for study permit applications. The first two months of the year have seen a total of 132,600 applications as of the end of February, 6.8% higher than last year. No other year has seen even close to this kind of volume, which is more than double (+136%) the year to date growth seen in 2020, the two months prior to the world locking down for the pandemic. 

Those two months have already seen new applications equivalent to 36% of the intended application cap. Considering Canada historically only has a 30% study permit rejection rate, and high season isn’t until mid-year (June to August), this will be a tough year for applications.

Assuming the study permit cap is enforced and the IRCC doesn’t introduce a loophole.