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Canada: Bill C-35 update for offshore agents; greater scrutiny for student visas

ICEF Monitor turns to Canada today for two important updates: clarification on Bill C-35 for offshore student recruitment agents and upcoming revisions to the country’s student visa system.

C-35 update

Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) has clarified its interpretation as to the impact of Canada’s Bill C-35 legislation on educational agents based outside of Canada.

Department officials have now confirmed to ICEF Monitor that the changes introduced by Bill C-35 – in particular, that it is now illegal for anyone other than an accredited immigration representative to provide advice or otherwise represent a client during an application or proceeding with CIC – are applicable both to agents operating in Canada and to those based outside the country.

CIC acknowledges as well that any prosecutions arising from the new legislation would need to occur in Canada.

Supporting information posted on the CIC website summarises the impact of C-35 on education agents as follows:

“In terms of student recruitment, education agents who, for example, provide advice exclusively related to educational matters and/or services, such as directing someone to the CIC website to find information on immigration programmes or to access immigration application forms, will continue to be able to do so.

However, people who previously provided paid advice on immigration matters related to student recruitment—such as applying for a study permit, re-entry visa, or status extension—without being recognised as an authorised immigration representative will need to either become authorised or refer relevant cases to an authorised representative.”

For a definition of “accredited immigration representatives” and more detailed guidelines as to what education agents can and cannot do under the terms of this new legislation, please see our original post on the subject from June 2012. This earlier post has now been updated to reflect CIC’s current advice regarding the impact of C-35 on education agents outside of Canada.

Greater scrutiny for Canadian student visas on the horizon?

In further news, the Government of Canada has given formal notice of its intent to revise Canada’s immigration regulations with respect to student visas.

CIC is currently calling for stakeholder feedback on a number of proposed regulatory changes designed to increase the oversight and reduce or eliminate any fraud or misuse of Canada’s student visa system.

The official government statement notes:

“Compared to its key competitors for international students, Canada is the only country that has not put in place an International Student Programme integrity framework that requires international students to pursue study after entry, and that limits the types of educational institutions that are eligible to host international students.”

The proposed regulatory changes include:

  • Limiting the issuance of study permits to educational institutions eligible to host international students – with this eligibility to be jointly determined by Canada’s provinces and territories in collaboration with the national government.
  • The elimination of study permits for programmes of study of under six months’ duration. Students may continue to pursue shorter-term courses but will need to enter Canada using a visitor’s visa in such cases.
  • The elimination of the requirement for students traveling on a visitor’s visa to leave Canada in order to apply for a student visa. Under the proposed changes, students would now be able to apply to change from visitor to student status without leaving the country.

Please see the complete government statement on the proposed changes for additional background and detail.

Readers might also enjoy our article and video interview with Languages Canada Executive Director Gonzalo Peralta, which explores Canada’s competitive position in international education, new visa regulations, and changes to the Citizenship and Immigration programme.

Source: Citizenship and Immigration Canada

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