Alterations to citizenship rules directly affect international students’ residency
Each year thousands of students from other countries come to Canada to participate in one of the best and most respected education systems in the world.
However, recent changes to the Citizenship Act could deter international students interests in Canada to pursue their educational goals.
These changes, introduced to law in June 2014, directly impact international students and their abilities to stay in Canada and gain citizenship after graduation, an incentive for many prospective international students looking towards education in Canada.
Prior to June 2014, for international students every day spent in Canada on a study visa as a non-permanent resident counted as a half day of residence needed for their citizenship application, up to a maximum of two years.
The Canadian government has taken that provision away and has since made it increasingly difficult for international students to gain permanent residency by increasing residency requirements for citizenship from three out of four years to four out of six years.
“I think the new regulations will be discouraging many students from studying in Canada,” said Joseph Kasaji, electrical engineering student.
Kasaji is an international student from Zambia who came to Canada in September 2013.
He believes that these changes not only hurt international students but the Canadian economy as well.
“I think many people will only actively participate in the economy if they are guaranteed they will live in that country for long,” said Kasaji.
International students support over 85,000 jobs and contribute upwards of $8 billion to the Canadian economy annually.
“I think the number of international students will begin dropping as time goes by,” said Kasaji.
According to Algonquin College’s International Education Centre (IEC), Algonquin welcomes approximately 1,000 international students per year from more than 100 countries worldwide.
Michelle Cameron, International Student Advisor at the IEC acknowledges that the changes may pose some challenges for international students wishing to gain citizenship post-graduation.
“Many students might be upset because if they become a permanent resident and want to pursue Canadian citizenship, they will be required to spend more days in Canada in order to be eligible, according to the changes,” said Cameron.
However, in regards to how these changes will affect international interest in Canada, she is unsure.
“We do not know how these changes will affect international students behavior,” said Cameron. “However, even with the changes, Canada remains a desired destination for immigration in general”.