International students in Canada are facing challenges due to rising unemployment. The job market is tough, especially for those juggling high living costs. The government’s policies are under scrutiny as students navigate limited work options and soaring tuition fees. In this article, we’ll delve into the challenges faced by international students in Canada due to rising unemployment. 

Canada
International Students Facing Job Challenges

Official data shows that youth unemployment is close to 12%. Getting a job in Canada is getting harder, especially for international students who are already struggling with higher living expenses. This is because of higher rents, pushing them into less stable jobs. They often end up working fewer hours or in jobs that pay less. There are also limited job options available to international students. Studying becomes even more challenging with the steep rise in tuition fees. International students already pay more than local students, and now their fees are going up even more.

Government’s Strategy and Measures

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau recognizes that the current policies to address labor shortages may not be enough. The government aims to “regain control” by reducing the number of temporary residents, particularly international students. In January, they capped the number of international students and raised the income threshold for applicants. In April, they introduced a new plan to reduce temporary residents. This has raised concerns among universities that heavily rely on international students for funding.

Off-Campus Work Hours Cap

International students are facing new limits on off-campus work hours. Immigration Minister Marc Miller ended the rule allowing students to work over 20 hours per week on April 29. This rule was initially to help students during the pandemic but won’t be extended. Critics argue it was mainly to tackle labor shortages. Canada wants to align with other countries by capping work hours. Over 80% of international students currently work more than 20 hours weekly, impacting their studies negatively. However, from September, work hours will increase to 24 per week, except during non-study periods like summer vacation.

Quebec’s Immigration-Driven Growth

Quebec is experiencing significant population growth due to immigration. In 2023, 50% of its provinces saw record growth rates. Montreal’s population surged by 4.3%, nearly double the provincial average. This growth is fueled by temporary immigration, with many new residents coming from abroad. Other regions like Quebec City and Montérégie also saw substantial increases. Most immigrants come for economic reasons, with significant numbers from France, Cameroon, and China.

New Citizenship Legislation

Canada is changing citizenship laws to include more people. “Bill C-71” will let children of Canadian citizens born abroad pass on citizenship and allow “lost Canadians” to reclaim theirs. This follows a court decision deeming the current law unfair. Eligible parents must have spent at least three years in Canada before their child’s birth or adoption. The bill is still in the proposal stage, with more details promised if it becomes law.

United Arab Emirates (UAE)
New Visa Opportunities

The UAE has introduced two new visa options to attract skilled professionals in different fields.

Blue Residency for Environmental Professionals

The UAE launched the “Blue Residency” on May 15, a special long-term visa for foreign professionals working in environmental and sustainability sectors. This visa is for those who have made a significant contribution to environmental protection locally or globally. It’s open to members of international organizations, NGOs, activists, researchers, and award winners. Applications are online through the Federal Authority for Identity, Citizenship, Customs, and Port Security.

Dubai Gaming Visa

In 2024, Dubai introduced the “Dubai Gaming Visa” as part of its strategy to become a global gaming center by 2033. This visa targets professional gamers, e-sports experts, developers, content creators, and others in the gaming industry. It also aims to support local talents collaborating with foreign professionals. The visa offers long-term residence, tax exemptions, startup support, job opportunities, and competitive salaries. Applicants must be at least 25 years old with experience in their field, backed by evidence like tournament wins or professional achievements. Dubai plans to host e-sport tournaments and gaming events, and eligible professionals will receive a certificate recognizing their talent and creativity.

Thailand
Tax Reform Impacting Expatriates

Starting in January 2024, Thailand’s new tax rules will affect certain expats, including retirees. The Ministry of Finance announced that all foreign residents must report their income for taxes starting March 2025. Taxes will be based on the income defined by the Immigration Bureau. Early estimates suggest expats might owe around 71,000 baht or close to 2,000 dollars. The goal is to widen the tax base to secure more funds due to the country’s aging population and to bridge gaps between locals and foreign nationals. Since 1985, expats have enjoyed tax benefits, but now the law is changing. Tax authorities advise consulting experts to see if there’s a double taxation agreement between Thailand and their home country, which could reduce taxes. Thailand has such agreements with about 60 nations, including Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Germany, Italy, France, the UK, the US, and the UAE.

Visa Relaxations to Boost the Economy

On May 28, the Thai government introduced measures to stimulate the economy, extending stay periods for various foreign groups:

10-Year Visa for Foreign Executives and Experts

A new initiative aims to attract foreign talent. In May, Thailand introduced a special 10-year visa for foreign executives and experts working in the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC). It addresses skilled labor shortages and supports high-tech industry development (healthcare, digital, biotechnology, electric vehicles, etc.). Previously a 5-year visa, it now allows multiple entries tied to the employment contract duration. The government identifies four eligible expatriate types: executives, specialists, experienced professionals, and dependents. Visa holders also benefit from a reduced income tax rate of 17%, down from the maximum of 35%. Thailand seeks to attract nearly 3 billion dollars in investments, positioning itself as a strategic hub in Southeast Asia.

France: Online Reimbursement Requests for Medical Care Abroad

As of last month, you can now ask for reimbursement for medical care you got abroad on Ameli.fr, France’s health insurance platform. The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) has already made it easier for Europeans traveling within Europe, Switzerland, and the UK to get refunds. Even after Brexit, the EHIC still works, giving coverage just like in your home country. Non-Europeans in France traveling within Europe, Switzerland, or the UK can use the EHIC too, except in Denmark, Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein, and Switzerland. But if you’re traveling outside Europe, simpler coverage like paying upfront for medical bills isn’t available. Expats need to pay all their medical bills and then ask for refunds when they return to France. Before, you had to do this using a paper form and send it by mail. Now, France is making things easier by letting you do it online, which should be safer and quicker. You’ll need an account on Ameli.fr to do this. If you face problems or have complicated cases, you can visit your health insurance office.

Italy: Introduction of an Entrance Fee to Visit Venice

Venice, one of the most visited cities, has started a new program to handle the huge number of tourists. Since April 25, you need to pay a small 5-euro fee to visit Venice. If you don’t, you might get fined up to 300 euros. You can pay using your smartphone or at kiosks if you don’t have a smartphone. This fee is for visits between 8:30 am and 4 pm; visiting outside these hours is still free. Venice is trying hard to control the large crowds of tourists. Even before this fee, UNESCO suggested that Venice might be listed as a World Heritage Site in Danger due to too many tourists. The fee is meant to discourage tourists from coming during busy times. But after a month, tourists are still coming in large numbers. The city collected 700,000 euros in a week, which was what they expected to get in a month. Local people don’t think this fee is working to control tourism. The city promises financial benefits, but locals are doubtful.

European Union: Strengthening Cooperation to Combat Traffic Offenses Committed Abroad

Some drivers thought they could break traffic laws in other countries without getting caught because they were just passing through. About 40% of traffic violations by foreign drivers went unpunished. But the EU has decided to change this. On April 24, members of the European Parliament made rules to improve cooperation and share information between countries. These rules say countries have to respond quickly to requests from other EU countries, usually within two months. The country where the violation happened can send a ticket to the driver’s home country within 11 months and track down the driver. Then the driver’s home country has two months to contact the driver. These new rules cover more offenses besides speeding, like running red lights, drunk driving, hit-and-runs, illegal parking, and dangerous overtaking. Even though the European Parliament agreed on these changes, they still need approval from the European Council. Then EU countries have 30 months to follow these rules.

Switzerland: Tripling Fees for Studying at Polytechnics

Immigration policy changes

On Wednesday, May 29, the National Council, representing the Swiss population, decided to triple fees for international students studying at the Federal Polytechnics: EPF Lausanne (EPFL) and EPF Zurich (ETHZ). This decision was made during discussions on education and research funding. It followed the Swiss government’s proposal to cut the polytechnics’ budget by 100 million Swiss francs, a proposal that was ultimately rejected. Opponents argue that reducing the budget would harm the polytechnics’ competitiveness, especially in research. The decision to triple fees is seen as counterproductive at a time when countries are competing to attract the best international students. While left-wing parties and the Federal Council oppose this measure, the National Council has upheld its decision. If implemented, tuition fees for international students would rise from 1,560 to 4,480 Swiss francs annually. EPFL and ETHZ currently have about 30% international students.

Budget Cuts and Skilled Labor Shortages

Switzerland faces challenging economic conditions in 2024, with the OECD predicting sluggish GDP growth of 1.1%. Inflation is impacting purchasing power, leading to tightened state budgets. Although unemployment is slightly rising at 4.4%, the country is grappling with a shortage of skilled labor. While the OECD recommends turning to foreign workers to address this shortage, the Swiss government plans to reduce its contribution to unemployment insurance by 1.25 billion Swiss francs. The right-wing faction, opposed to relying on economic immigration to solve labor shortages, is pushing for tighter asylum rules. On the other hand, the Federal Council is requesting an additional 255 million Swiss francs for its migration budget.

Germany: New Measures for Non-European Skilled Workers

Germany has introduced the Opportunity Card, a temporary residence permit valid for one year, allowing non-European foreigners to seek employment in the country. Starting from June 1, this card permits foreign nationals to work part-time (up to 20 hours per week) or engage in trial internships (up to two weeks). Once they secure a job, they can apply for a long-term residence card, benefiting from a simplified process due to their employment status. The Opportunity Card is based on a points system, requiring a minimum of six points for eligibility. It is designed for foreign professionals with at least two years of professional training or a relevant university degree. Applicants must also demonstrate proficiency in German or English and prove they can support themselves financially during their stay, typically requiring around 12,000 euros. Points are awarded based on various criteria, such as age, previous stays in Germany, recognized professional training, and relevant work experience. Applicants can apply at their home country’s consulate or in Germany at a local foreign registration office.

Rising Tax on Air Tickets

Traveling from Germany is expected to become more costly due to an increase in the civil aviation tax decided by the government in May. The tax will rise slightly for intra-EU travel and more significantly for long-distance flights. This decision aims to replenish the state’s budget after part of the 2024 budget was rejected by the German Constitutional Court, with the new taxes projected to generate 445 million euros for the state.

Minimum Wage Increase for Specialized Nurses

Germany is increasing the minimum wage for specialized nurses in long-term and elderly care. Unqualified nurses will receive 15.50 euros per hour, nursing assistants 16.50 euros per hour, and qualified nurses 16.50 euros per hour. The healthcare sector is facing a significant labor shortage, with only 5 million caregivers currently available. The Federal Statistical Office estimates that the country will need an additional 280,000 to 690,000 caregivers by 2049.

United Kingdom: Visa Rule Changes Affecting International Graduates

The recent changes in visa rules have negatively impacted international students. The government’s decision to raise the minimum salary threshold has made it harder for employers to hire foreign workers. The new thresholds are £38,700 for unskilled workers and £30,960 for individuals under 26, leading to concerns among employers. Many companies have expressed difficulties in hiring foreign professionals due to these stricter criteria. Some large corporations, including banks, have even canceled job offers for international graduates. For example, one bank, which hired more than 2,700 workers in 2023, has withdrawn 35 offers, affecting 3% of its fall 2023 graduate applicants. These developments have sparked fears of further job cancellations, affecting foreign graduates who have invested significantly in their career plans.

The government’s strong measures to reduce legal immigration are causing companies, including major corporations, to reconsider their hiring strategies for foreign professionals. The Migration Advisory Committee has recommended maintaining the graduate visa program, which allows graduates to work in the UK for two years post-graduation. However, it remains uncertain whether the Conservative government, eager to limit potential electoral consequences with upcoming elections on July 4, will heed this recommendation.

Australia: Update on Immigration Strategy

Immigration policy changes

The Australian government is making changes to the temporary graduate visa program starting July 1. Apart from renaming the program, the maximum age limit for applicants has been reduced to 35 years, and nationality restrictions have been implemented. More details about these changes are available on the Immigration and Citizenship Ministry website. Additionally, international students and their guardians will need to demonstrate increased financial capacity in line with the national minimum wage. These updates are part of the December 2023 reforms aimed at lowering net immigration figures.

A new “Innovation Visa” has been introduced by the government targeting highly skilled workers and other foreign talents. This visa replaces the previous Business Innovation and Investment Program (Golden Visa) and the Global Talent Visa, both of which will conclude this year. The Innovation Visa is aligned with Australia’s strategy to prioritize skilled immigration while controlling net immigration levels. The government plans to enhance monitoring to address any misuse of student visas. A new voting system for working holiday visa applications from China, India, and Vietnam will be implemented starting from the fiscal year ending June 2025. The government’s objective is to reduce net immigration to 260,000 for the 2024-2025 period, down from 528,000 in 2022-2023.

United States: Alert for LGBTQIA+ Travelers

The US Department of State advises caution for LGBTQ+ travelers. This alert applies to US nationals traveling abroad and the entire LGBTQIA+ community. It was issued in mid-May, coinciding with preparations for Pride Month celebrations. US intelligence warns of potential threats from foreign terrorist groups targeting LGBTQIA+ events. Hate crimes against the community have also been on the rise in recent years, fueled by anti-LGBT laws in some US states and actions by Republican politicians that have heightened tensions.

New Measures for H-1B Visa Holders

Is 2024 witnessing major tech layoffs again? Google, Cisco, Tesla, Microsoft, Snap, Paypal, Walmart, and other major companies are announcing mass layoffs, affecting H-1B visa holders who have a 60-day grace period to find new employment or face deportation.

To prevent expulsions, the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has introduced several measures for stay extension:

USCIS reminds eligible nonimmigrants that they can transition smoothly to new job opportunities. Expatriates applying for a self-sponsored nonimmigrant visa can do so while requesting a status change, allowing them to stay in the US during application reviews and obtain an employment authorization document (EAD). Those in challenging situations can obtain a one-year EAD.

Google’s Call for Immigration Reform

The tech giant, Google, has entered the immigration reform discussion, emphasizing the need to update policies to retain foreign talent, particularly in cybersecurity and artificial intelligence (AI). Google urges revising Schedule A, which identifies sectors with a shortage of US workers, last updated in 2005. The company emphasizes the importance of updating this list regularly to reflect market conditions and labor demands, advocating for public comments to ensure transparency. Google also critiques the lengthy PERM process for permanent labor certification, proposing a simpler and faster system. Simplifying immigration procedures, especially for AI jobs, will attract more qualified professionals and keep the US competitive in advanced sectors, according to Google.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q: What challenges are international students facing in Canada?

International students in Canada are encountering difficulties due to rising unemployment and high living costs, making it tough to secure jobs.

Q: What are the new measures affecting international students in Canada?

Canada has introduced limits on off-campus work hours, capped at 20 hours per week until September when it will increase to 24 hours per week during study periods.

Q: What is the impact of the new visa rule changes in the United Kingdom?

The UK’s higher minimum salary thresholds for foreign workers are causing challenges for employers, leading to job cancellations for international graduates.

Q: What changes are happening in Australia’s immigration strategy?

Australia is implementing changes to the temporary graduate visa program, including an Innovation Visa for skilled workers and nationality restrictions.

Q: What alerts have been issued for LGBTQIA+ travelers by the US Department of State?

The US Department of State advises caution for LGBTQ+ travelers, highlighting potential threats at LGBTQIA+ events and a rise in hate crimes against the community.

Final Thoughts

International students are facing significant challenges in countries like Canada due to rising unemployment and limited job opportunities. Visa rule changes in the UK are impacting foreign graduates, while Australia is undergoing immigration strategy shifts. The US advises caution for LGBTQIA+ travelers, highlighting safety concerns. Overall, these updates reflect ongoing shifts in immigration policies and their real-world impacts.