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Canada will impose a two-year cap on the intake of foreign students after explosive growth in recent years has resulted in a worsening housing crisis in the country, Reuters reported.

Minister of Immigration Marc Miller unveiled plans to issue around 364,000 visas this year, which would cut the number of intakes by nearly a third.

Last year, the country issued almost one million study permits – roughly three times more than a decade ago.

The new proposals will also set limits on post-graduate work permits for foreign students, in an effort to encourage them to return home. However, students pursuing masters’ or post-doctorate programs will be eligible for a three-year work permit.

The permits are seen as an easier path to permanent residency.

Meanwhile, the government plans to reassess the acceptance of new study permit applications in 2025, Miller added.

Miller explained that the measures are “not against individual international students,” but are meant to ensure future students receive the “quality of education that they signed up for,” the BBC noted.

However, observers said the caps come as Canada has become a popular destination for international students which has led to a huge shortage of rental apartments and rising rents across the country. The affordability crisis has caused a dent in Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s popularity ahead of next year’s general elections.

Even so, others noted that the changes will negatively impact educational institutions and various sectors, causing labor shortages in businesses such as restaurants and retail.

International students contribute $16.4 billion annually to the Canadian economy, mainly benefiting Ontario, the most populous province.

During the pandemic, Canada sharply felt the economic loss of immigrants and foreign students when it shut its borders. When they were reopened, the government stepped up measures to accept foreign workers and students.

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