CEPII, Recherche et Expertise sur l'economie mondiale
Visa Policy and International Student Migration: Evidence from the Student Partners Program in Canada

Jérôme Gonnot
Mauro Lanati

 Points clés :
  • We examine how visa policy affects the quantity of international student migration.
  • We evaluate the Student Partners Program, a policy reform that introduced origin-specific requirements in the screening of visa applications for international students pursuing post-secondary college education in Canada.
  • The reform increased student migration from India and Vietnam, but had no effect on Chinese students.
  • Higher enrollment was driven by an increase in the approval rate and the volume of visa applications at institutions participating in the program.
  • We find no evidence of crowding-out of domestic students. However, the recruitment of students from countries eligible to SPP had a crowding-in effect on non-eligible foreign students.

 Résumé :
This paper examines how visa policy affects international student migration. Using administrative data on community colleges in Canada, we evaluate a reform that introduced a new visa stream - the Student Partners Program (SPP) - with shorter processing times and higher approval rates for student visa applicants able to demonstrate that they have the financial resources and language skills to succeed academically. Using a triple difference estimator, we find that SPP increased student migration from treated countries by 33% relative to what would have occurred without the reform. In line with our theoretical model, we further show that SPP had a large and positive effect on international enrollment only in countries where migration fraud was a major concern, and that higher enrollment was driven by an increase in both the approval rate and the volume of applications to study at treated institutions. We also leverage the SPP reform to investigate potential crowding-out effects. While we find no evidence that the enrollment of international students took place at the expense of domestic students, our results indicate that the recruitment of students from countries eligible to SPP had a crowding-in effect on noneligible foreign students.

 Mots-clés : International Migration | Students | Visa Policy | Information

 JEL : F22, H52, I23, O15
CEPII Working Paper
N°2023-07, March 2023

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