On the Radar from CLEO
CLEO On The Radar
January 2024
Changes coming for consumers, international students, and newcomers
The year ahead promises changes in a variety of areas. Look for new consumer protection laws, new rules for international students, and a greater move to doing immigration applications online.
Consumer protection
Last fall, the Ontario government introduced a new consumer protection law that will take effect soon.
Changes for consumers
The new law gives consumers:
  • more time to end a contract if a business commits an unfair practice
  • an easier way to cancel subscriptions and membership agreements, for example, for gym memberships or online services
  • an easier way to get out of timeshares and long-term leases for home comfort appliances like water heaters
  • free online access to their consumer reports and credit scores once a month
Limits on businesses
As well, the new law adds the following to the list of unfair practices that businesses must avoid:
  • price gouging, which means raising the prices of goods or services to a level much higher than what similar businesses charge
  • taking advantage of consumers who cannot understand what's written in a contract.
These are just some of the ways the new law will affect consumers and businesses. There's a more complete list of the changes in the government's backgrounder.
Updates for international students
The Government of Canada has announced new rules for international students.
Working off campus
In the past, international students could work off campus only 20 hours a week while their classes were in session. The government first removed this limit until the end of 2023. They've now extended that to April 30, 2024.
This applies to students already in Canada, and those who applied for a study permit by December 7, 2023.
More money for living costs
Starting in 2024, the government increased the amount that a single person studying in Canada requires for living costs. The amount is now $20,635 a year, up from $10,000. The government calls this a cost-of-living requirement.
When a single person applies for a study permit, they must show that they have $20,635 to cover their living costs. They must also show that they have money to pay for their first-year tuition and travel costs.
Applying online
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has moved many of its applications online. IRCC refers to these application websites as portals or accounts.
In many cases, people must apply online. But some applications can or must be submitted on paper.
If people are not able to apply online when it's required, they can ask IRCC for another way to submit their application. For example, someone who has a disability might need an application that's on paper, in braille, or uses large print.
Permanent Residence Portal
Many applications for permanent resident status now use the new Permanent Residence Portal including:
  • humanitarian and compassionate (H&C) applications, and
  • sponsorship applications.
People can also submit applications for a permanent resident card and travel document through this portal.
Citizenship Portal
Many citizenship applications can be submitted online through the new Canadian Citizenship Portal. If a representative or lawyer completes the application on behalf of someone, they must use a paper application.
IRCC Portal
Refugee applications made within Canada use the new IRCC Portal. Many refugees who claim protection at the border are also asked to use this portal.
And certain temporary resident applications can go in this portal.
IRCC Secure Account
Many applications can go in IRCC's Secure Account, including:
  • work permit applications
  • applications to extend work permits, study permits, and visitor status
  • Express Entry applications for people applying to immigrate to Canada as a skilled worker
There's some overlap between the IRCC Portal and IRCC's Secure Account for temporary resident applications, especially visitor visa and study permit applications.
Figuring out how to apply
It may not be clear which portal or method to use. People can refer to IRCC's website to find out how and where to apply based on their situation. For example, there are tools that tell applicants:
They can also call IRCC's Client Support Centre at 1-888-242-2100 with questions or try to get legal advice.
CLEO has a Guided Pathway that helps people fill out draft forms for an open work permit from within Canada. And there’s a related webinar that shows how to use the pathway.
Steps to Justice logo
Related Resources
Revised requirements to better protect international students
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada
Work off campus as an international student
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada
IRCC Secure Account – Check if this is the right account for you
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada
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