International Student Program (ISP) – Revised designation criteria

The Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities (the Ministry) is pleased to announce that it has revised the designation criteria and is ready to receive application submissions to designate and re-designate postsecondary institutions in Ontario under the International Student Program.

Overview

In January 2013, Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada announced changes to the International Student Program. The changes affected all postsecondary education institutions in Canada that enrol or are seeking to enrol international students for periods of study longer than six (6) months. The changes took effect on June 1, 2014.

The federal regulations restricted the issuance of study permits to foreign nationals with an offer of admission from a Canadian postsecondary education institution designated by a provincial or territorial government.

The objective of Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada's changes to the International Student Program is to strengthen the integrity of Canada's immigration program by requiring study permit holders to actively pursue their studies, and to reduce the number of non-genuine students and poor quality educational institutions hosting study permit holders. The changes help facilitate the entry into Canada of those foreign nationals that wish to obtain a Canadian postsecondary education. The Ministry actively supports these objectives and established a designation framework for Ontario's postsecondary education institutions in June 2014.

Eligibility for designation

Currently, all postsecondary education institutions in Ontario are eligible to apply for designation under the program. The process for applying and the requirements for designation are different for different types of institutions, in recognition of the varying government accountability and policy frameworks in place.

Revised designation criteria

The Ministry has conducted a review of the ISP designation criteria since the original framework was released on July 4, 2013. The original designation framework will now be replaced by the following documents to support the application process:

While the process for designation has not changed significantly, the Ministry has outlined a process for the re-designation of private postsecondary education institutions. Postsecondary education institutions that are currently designated are advised to review the ISP Requirements, 2015 to ensure they are able to satisfy the criteria for re-designation, and to minimize any impacts on their ability to host international students for a period longer than six (6) months.

Re-designation process for designated institutions

Many postsecondary institutions have a designation agreement expiring December 31, 2015. The Ministry is considerate of the short timelines between the release of the ISP Requirements, 2015, and the time remaining to submit an application for re-designation before the agreements expire. To address this issue, the ministry is inviting institutions who have a designation agreement expiring on December 31, 2015 to request an extension of one (1) month through the completion of an "interim agreement".

The Ministry will provide all institutions with a designation agreement expiring on December 31, 2015 with an interim agreement, to be signed and returned to the ministry. It is important that institutions provide the signed interim agreement to the ministry before December 31, 2015 to avoid a lapse in their designation for the purposes of the ISP.

If an institution is not able to submit the interim agreement, the institution will cease to be designated when the designation agreement expires. Institutions that are not designated for the purposes of the ISP are not able to accept international students to a program of study six (6) months in duration or longer.

Contacts

For general inquiries about the ISP or questions regarding designation (including applying for designation or re-designation), please email: ISP.TCU@Ontario.ca.

If you have any questions about the federal International Student Program, please contact Melissa Fama, Assistant Director, NHQ – Immigration, Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada, at: Melissa.Fama@cic.gc.ca.

We continue to look forward to working with Ontario's postsecondary education sector in the International Student Program.

Sincerely,

David Carter-Whitney
Assistant Deputy Minister
Postsecondary Education Division
Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities

Cc. Sheldon Levy, Deputy Minister, Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities
Cc. Melissa Fama, Assistant Director, NHQ – Immigration, Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada