Kenyan Students Worried As Canada Considers Entry Restrictions

Canada is a popular destination for international students since it is relatively easy to obtain a work permit.

Kenyan Students Worried As Canada Considers Entry Restrictions
Photo of Diaspora Affairs Principal Secretary holding talks with Kenyans in Canada in 2023. /STATE DEPARTMENT OF DIASPORA AFFAIRS

Kenyan students run the risk of being thrown into headwinds after news emerged of the government of Canada's consideration to impose a cap on international students immigrating into the country.

CTV, a Canadian media outlet, reported that the government had faced criticism owing to a housing affordability crisis blamed on an increase in migrants and international students.

Canadian Immigration Minister, Marc Miller in an interview revealed that the Liberal government is considering a cap on international students in the first and second quarters this year.

An image of an airport in Canada. /FILE

"That volume is disconcerting," Miller was quoted by CTV as saying on January 9, referring to the number of international students in Canada.

He added, "It's really a system that has gotten out of control." However, he did not say how much of a reduction in international students the government is considering.

Official Canadian data indicated that there were more than 800,000 foreign students with active visas in 2022, up from 275,000 in 2012.

The increase in both permanent and temporary immigrants who include international students has increased demand for homes just as inflation has slowed construction, leading to the housing crisis.

Canada depends on immigration to drive its economy and support an aging population and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has been ramping up annual immigration.

The Liberal government had considered capping the number of foreign student visas in August, but Housing Minister Sean Fraser said then that the government had not yet decided whether to pursue that option.

Miller said he planned to discuss the problem with provincial counterparts, saying “And now it's time for us to have a conversation about volumes and the impact that that is having in certain areas.”

Despite the cap on international students, the minister hinted at further action, revealing that “A cap on international students would not be a “one-size-fits-all solution” to housing shortages across Canada.

Canada is a popular destination for international students since it is relatively easy to obtain a work permit.

As of March 2023, there are now over 13,000 people of Kenyan origin who live in Canada. This number continues to grow each year due to more Kenyans moving to Canada to immigrate, work, and study.

Canada also offers many advantages, such as being a safe and politically stable country, a thriving economy, a highly developed healthcare system and an internationally recognized education system.

Data from the ICEF Monitor, a platform that provides data on international education revealed that Canadian institutions enrolled 2,310 Kenyans in 2022, up 12% compared with 2019, a number which increased in 2023.

Should the cap be introduced, it risks hurting Kenyan students, particularly those who received their Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) results in January 2024, who seek to further their studies in Canada as well as Kenyans seeking postgraduate studies and those aiming to relocate there for better job opportunities.

President William Ruto meets Canada Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in New York on September 21, 2023. /PCS