Close
Visas

Canada issued record-breaking 450,000 study permits in 2021

Canada study visa updates
Canada study visa updates show nearly 450,000 new study permits take effect last year. Source: Daniel Slim/AFP

Here’s the latest Canada study visa updates: data show nearly 450,000 new study permits took effect last year, breaking the previous record set in 2019. 

Before COVID-19, Canada saw just over 400,000 new study permits take effect; conversely, the figure fell to just over 255,000 in 2020. Last year’s total represents a doubling compared to 2015, said CIC News. Data shows that Indian and Chinese students were the biggest beneficiaries.

Over 200,000 new study permits took effect between July and August — before the start of the 2021-22 academic year. The report is based on data of new study permits that take effect from the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). 

These represent new students arriving in Canada and foreign nationals in Canada who have successfully obtained a study permit.

Canada issued nearly 450,000 study permits in 2021, with Indian and Chinese students being the biggest beneficiaries. Source: Daniel Slim/AFP

Canada study visa updates: Indian and Chinese students biggest beneficiaries 

Canada study visa updates show that the top three international student source countries, by the number of study permit holders on Dec. 31, 2021, were India (217,410), China (105,265) and France (26,630).

IRCC’s data shows that Canada’s international student population is almost fully recovering to the pre-pandemic level.

As of Dec. 31, 2021, the country hosted nearly 622,000 international students. Canada’s international student population was nearly 640,000 people in 2019 before plunging to some 530,000 foreign students in 2020 when the pandemic struck. 

Why the uptick of new study permits?

The report said that Canada introduced travel restrictions at the start of the pandemic in March 2020 that affected prospective students who had not entered the country.

IRCC announced that international students could enter Canada from Oct. 20, 2020 onwards if their designated learning institution (DLI) has a government-approved COVID-19 readiness plan in place. 

“If a DLI on the list has multiple campuses, all campuses in that province or territory are included in the DLI’s approval,” said IRCC previously. 

The easing of restrictions allowed the country’s international student population to recover.

The spike in study permits that took effect last year was attributed to a double cohort of student arrivals: those who couldn’t travel to Canada in 2020 due to the pandemic, and students who planned to begin their studies in 2021.

The easing of Canada’s Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) rules was also a likely contributor. 

Before the pandemic, IRCC did not allow distance learning to count towards PGWP eligibility, but they temporarily relaxed this policy until Aug. 31, 2022. The PGWP will enable students to temporarily stay in Canada to work.