Understanding Canada’s Recent Ban on Spouses of International Students Enrolled in College Degrees

In December 2023, the Canadian government conducted a comprehensive review of policies aimed at reducing the influx of international students to the country. One of these was increasing the proof of funds for study permit applications from 10,000 CAD to 20,635 CAD. This review was prompted by the recent surge in the cost of living expenses, prompting the Canadian government to re-evaluate policies related to international student intake. Also, as a measure to cut down on international students, the Canadian government announced that in the coming weeks, SOWP will no longer be accessible to spouses of students enrolled in a college degree. Rather, spouses of students enrolled in a master’s degree, PhD degree and certain bachelor’s degree programs.

Canada’s immigration policies have undergone notable changes, with the most recent update concerning the eligibility of spouses of international students enrolled in college degree programs. 

The ban became effective from March 19, 2024, the Canadian government has officially implemented a ban on allowing spouses of international students to accompany them while pursuing college degrees. 

In this blog post, we have explained what this policy implementation means for you and your family.

  1. Scope of the Ban

The recent policy update imposes a ban specifically on spouses of international students enrolled in college degree programs. While spouses of international students pursuing higher education at the university level remain unaffected, those accompanying students enrolled in college programs are no longer eligible for accompanying their spouses to Canada.

2. Implementation Date

The ban took effect on March 19, 2024, marking a significant shift in Canada’s immigration policy regarding the eligibility of accompanying spouses of international students.  Nevertheless, all Study Permit with Work Permit (SOWP) applications submitted before March 19th remain valid and unaffected by the recent legislation.

What Impact will this have on you as an International Student?

  1. Hardship

The ban may pose challenges for international students enrolled in college degree programs who plan to accompany their spouses to Canada. It could affect their ability to balance academic and personal responsibilities, impacting their overall well-being and academic success.

2. Family Dynamics

For international students with spouses, the inability to have their partners accompany them to Canada may disrupt family dynamics and create emotional stress. It may also influence students’ decisions regarding their choice of study destination and future plans.

3. Economic and Social Considerations

The policy update may have economic implications for local communities and businesses that benefit from the presence of international students and their families. Additionally, it raises questions about the social integration and support systems available to international students studying in Canada.

What options do you have as an international student?

Exceptions are made for spouses or partners of undergraduate students enrolled in specific professional degree programs at a university. These spouses of undergraduate students are also eligible to apply for a Study Permit with Work Permit (SOWP).

  1. Master’s program
  2. PhD program
  3. Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS, DMD)
  4. Bachelor of Law or Juris Doctor (LLB, JD, BCL)
  5. Doctor of Medicine (MD)
  6. Doctor of Optometry (OD)
  7. Pharmacy (PharmD, BS, BSc, BPharm)
  8. Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM)
  9. Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BScN, BSN, BNSc)
  10. Bachelor of Education (B. Ed.)
  11. Bachelor of Engineering (B. Eng., BE, BASc)

Canada’s recent policy update regarding the eligibility of spouses of international students enrolled in college degree programs reflects the government’s evolving approach to immigration and education. 

Note: This ban does not affect your children, you can apply for your children to accompany you on your study permit to Canada via a study permit or Visit visa depending on the age of the child.

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