Mohit Khanna &
Tribune News Service
Patiala/Jalandhar, December 8
In a move that would impact incoming foreign students, including those from India, Canada has more than doubled the amount of money they need to have in their accounts as ‘cost-of-living’ financial requirement while entering the country on a study visa.
Blow to Punjabis
- From January 1, GIC fund raised from $10,000 (Rs 6.14L) to $20,635 (Rs 12.67L)
- In 2022, India was first among the top 10 nations of study permit holders in Canada
- There were a total of 3.19 lakh students, a majority of them from Punjab
India non-committal on expanding visa segments
Non-committal on expanding categories of visas being issued by India to Canadian nationals, the Indian Government said in the Lok Sabha on Friday that before the decision, it would monitor the situation in Canada from the security perspective.
Effective January 1, the ‘cost-of-living’ component, also known as “Guaranteed Investment Certificate (GIC)”, has been raised from 10,000 Canadian dollars (Rs 6.14 lakh) to $20,635 (Rs 12.67 lakh) per applicant. “Starting next year, prospective students will need to show they have access to $20,635 instead of the $10,000 requirement that has been in place for two decades,” Canadian Immigration Minister Marc Miller was quoted as saying by a news agency.
In 2022, India was the first among the top 10 countries of study permit holders in Canada, with a total of 3.19 lakh students, a majority of them from Punjab and other northern states.
The escalating costs, exacerbated by the rise in dollar rates (vis-à-vis rupee) and doubling of the GIC, have significantly increased the financial burden on students. What used to be a migration expense of Rs 15 to 16 lakh has now surged to Rs 25 to Rs 26 lakh for a single applicant.
Amarjit Bhullar, an economist and former professor at University of Northern British Columbia, said the students visiting Canada had suffered a double blow. “While the cost-of-living financial requirement has been doubled, the Canadian authorities have indicated capping working hours,” he said.
As per a statement issued by the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), international students already in Canada, as well as those who have already submitted an application for a study permit as of December 7, 2023, will be able to work off-campus for more than 20 hours per week until April 30, 2024.
Bhullar said the revised GIC would lead to exploitation of people by private money landers in Punjab. “The Canadian dollar has witnessed a manifold rise in the past two years. Earlier, parents used to get bank loan against property. But with the revised GIC amount, availing bank loan won’t be easy and people will fall in the trap of private landers, who will charge hefty interest rate,” he said.
Students visiting Choti Baradari and markets near Children Memorial Chowk in Patiala, which are a hub of IELTS centres, appeared a worried lot. “The inflation is at an all-time high in Canada. The prices of rented accommodation in cities like Toronto, Brampton and Mississauga have been going through the roof. Students are forced to live in a shared apartment to save money. On the other hand, Canadian authorities have taken a regressive move by capping the working hours of students. Majority of parents sending their children abroad do not have the means to fund their studies and pay for accommodation from their income in India,” said Sanam Singh of Sanaur and Harpreet Kaur of Patiala.
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