Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) announced reforms this week aimed at stabilizing growth and decreasing the number of new international student permits issued in 2024.
IRCC is relying on provinces to help implement a cap of approximately 360,000 new study permits in 2024. Unless provinces act quickly, there are likely to be no new study permit applications until at least March 31st, 2024.
Note that you may still be able to submit cap-exempt study permits.
Before IRCC’s recent announcement, international students were only required to obtain a Letter of Acceptance (LOA) from a Designated Learning Institution (DLI) before applying for their study permit.
As of January 22, 2024, IRCC says that “every study permit application submitted to IRCC will also require an attestation letter from a province or territory.” Note, attestation letters must be submitted to IRCC alongside, not in place of, an LOA from the Canadian DLI an international student hopes to attend.
IRCC hopes that attestation letters will serve as additional proof of a study permit application’s legitimacy, further protecting the integrity of Canada’s international student system. Provincial and territorial governments are being given until March 31st, 2024 “to establish a process for issuing attestation letters to students.”
While provinces and territories across Canada may implement such processes at any time, there is no guarantee that such systems will be in place until the deadline indicated by IRCC, or beyond.
This could mean that no new study permit applications are submitted to IRCC until after March 31, 2024.
Applying for a Study Permit
Once an international student obtains both an LOA and an attestation letter, from the school and their province/territory of study respectively, they may proceed to apply for a study permit in Canada.
The following resources can help prospective international students understand the study permit process in Canada:
- How to Study in Canada
- How to Get a Canadian Study Permit
- Study Permit Refusals
- Renewing or Changing a Study Permit
- Working While Studying
Other changes Canada is making to its international student program
In addition to the introduction of attestation letters, IRCC’s recent press release details several other measures being taken to change Canada’s international student program and its related policies.
For instance, IRCC announced a two-year cap on the number of new study permits that will be accepted across the country*.
*As part of this change, IRCC notes that “individual provincial and territorial caps have been established, weighted by population”, a move the department says “will result in … significant [international student population] decreases in provinces [that have seen] the most unsustainable growth.”
IRCC clarifies that study permit renewal applicants, as well as current study permit holders and international students pursuing master’s and doctoral degrees or elementary and secondary education “are not included in the cap.”
Moreover, Canada is set to make changes to the eligibility criteria for its sought-after Post-Graduate Work Permit (PGWP) Program, including:
- As of September 1, 2024, international students who begin a study program that is part of a curriculum licensing arrangement will no longer be eligible for a PGWP upon graduation.
- Graduates of master’s and other short graduate-level programs will soon be eligible to apply for a 3-year work permit.