May 7, 2024

Updates to Study Permits Requirements

Posted by Legal Team - Bellissimo Law Group PC

On January 22, 2024, the Government of Canada announced measures to stabilize the number of international students entering the country by setting an intake cap on international student permit applications for two years[1]. It was announced that the cap for 2024 is anticipated to be around 360,000 approved study permits (a decrease of 35% from 2023), while the cap for 2025 will be re-evaluated at the end of 2024[2].

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) will allocate a portion of the cap to each province and territory, who will then distribute the allocation among their designated learning institutions[3].

Along with this cap come a few new eligibility requirements for study permit applications.

Provincial Attestation Letter (PAL)

As of January 22, 2024, “most new post-secondary international students at the college of undergraduate level must provide a provincial attestation letter (PAL) from a province or territory with their study permit application”[4]. If a PAL is not included in an application, IRCC will return it unless exempt[5].

The PAL will “serve as proof that the student has been accounted for under the provincial/territorial allocation within the national cap”[6]. The Canadian Government is working with the Government of Quebec to further determine how the certificat d’acceptation du Québec pour études could serve as a PAL[7].

Applications that were received by IRCC before 8:30am on January 22, 2024, and international student who were already approved for a study permit and intend to travel to Canada for an upcoming program do not need to adhere to these new requirements[8].

Who needs a PAL[9]?

  • Most post-secondary study permit applicants;
  • Most non-degree granting graduate programs (e.g., certificate programs and graduate diplomas); and
  • Anyone else not included in the exception list below.

Who does not need a PAL[10]?

  • Primary and secondary school students;
  • Master’s or doctoral degree students;
  • In-Canada visiting or exchange students studying at a designated learning institution;
  • In-Canada study permit and work permit holders (includes study permit holders applying for an extension);
  • In-Canada family members of study permit or work permit holders; and
  • Students whose application we received before 8:30 a.m. EST on January 22, 2024.

Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) Update for Graduates of Master’s Degree Programs

IRCC has also changed the length of the PGWP for graduates of master’s degrees in order to ensure they have the opportunity to meet the required Canadian work experience to apply for permanent residence[11]. As of February 15, 2024, a three-year PGWP will be available to students who are graduating from a master’s degree program that is less than two years or at least two years and who meet all other PGWP eligibility criteria[12]. The length of PGWPs for programs other than master’s degrees will continue to reflect the length of the study program[13].

PGWP Update for Public-Private Partnership College Programs for International Students

“Some provinces allow public colleges to license their curriculum to be delivered by an affiliate private college. Here, students physically attend a private college, but graduate with a diploma from a public institution” [14]. Under the new changes, IRCC has restricted PGWPs for these institutions. International students enrolled in a public-private college program who commenced their program before May 15, 2024, will remain eligible for a PGWP if they meet the other program eligibility criteria[15]. New international students beginning this type of program on May 15, 2024, or later will not be eligible for a PGWP[16].