A Breakdown of Canada’s International Study Permit Changes

January 31, 2024

You may have heard about the recent changes in Canada’s international student intake. If you haven’t, here’s a quick refresher: Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) is implementing a two-year temporary policy that will reduce the intake of international students by 35% through caps on study permits. There are also some added requirements for international students applying to study in Canada.

Here, you’ll learn the following:

  • Key points of the study permit changes
  • What changed about post-graduate work permits
  • An updated list of study permit application requirements

Planning to apply for a study permit in Canada? Be sure you read this first!

Key points of the study permit changes

We know that Canada is capping the intake of international students into the country, as announced by Immigration Minister Marc Miller on January 22, 2024. To help you understand the repercussions, let’s take a look at the key changes the IRCC made to international study permit policies.

Study permit cap

Per Minister Miller’s announcement, Canada’s federal government will cap the number of undergraduate and college study permits issued in 2024 at 360,000. That’s a 35% decrease from the number of study permits issued in 2023. The 360,000 person cap will be distributed according to the population of each province and territory.

This cap is planned to last for two years. The federal government will also reassess how many permits to issue in 2025 at the end of this year.

Attestation letter

All study permit applications submitted to the IRCC after January 22, 2024, require an attestation letter from the province or territory you plan to study in. Canadian provinces and territories are currently developing the process of getting the attestation letter, and we expect these processes to be in place no later than March 31, 2024.

Any study permit applications after January 22, 2024, without an attestation letter will be returned unless you fulfill one of these exemption requirements:

  • You’re a minor child applying to study in primary/secondary school
  • You’re a student applying for certain post-graduate programs
  • You’re applying to extend an existing study permit

If you plan to study in Quebec for over six months, you also need a Quebec Acceptance Certificate (CAQ) from the provincial government and your attestation letter. You can get information on how to get a CAQ from your school.

Did you submit your study permit application before January 22? If it’s already in IRCC processing, you don’t have to worry because you don’t need an attestation letter.

Study permit with accompanying spouse

Another thing to remember is that undergraduate and college study permit holders will no longer be allowed to bring their spouses to Canada on an open work permit. An exception to this is if the study permit holder is enrolled in a master’s, doctoral, or professional program.

Changes in post-graduation work permits

In addition to undergraduates and college program participants, some of these changes affect students after graduation, especially their post-graduation work permits (PGWP). Here are two changes we’ve found that may affect you after graduation:

PGWP eligibility

From September 1, 2024, international students at public-private partnership (PPP) schools won’t be eligible for a PGWP after graduation. PPPs are affiliates of publicly funded institutions, but are not publicly funded themselves.

PGWP length

Master’s and short graduate-level program graduates may be eligible to apply for work permits of up to three years. We are still waiting on more information from IRCC on this topic, so we’ll keep you updated as more information becomes available.

Updated requirements for applying for a study permit

To ensure you don’t miss anything during your study permit application, let’s do a refresh on the required documents. Here’s a checklist of what documents are required for a study permit application, as outlined by the Government of Canada:

  • A letter of acceptance from your destination designated learning institute (DLI)
  • An attestation letter from your destination province or territory
  • Proof of identity, usually a passport
  • Proof of financial support, which could be a Canadian bank account in your name, your bank statements, student loans, or other means of financial support

You may also need the following documents in some cases:

  • A letter of explanation
  • A medical exam report
  • A CAQ, if you’re studying in Quebec

Key takeaways

When summed up, there are three major changes to Canada’s international study permit policies as announced on January 22, 2024:

  • Approximately 360,000 study permits will be issued in 2024. This cap is applied nationwide, and each province or territory will get different cap space allocations based on its population.
  • All study permit applications submitted after January 22, 2024—except for graduate programs like a master’s— require an attestation letter issued by the student’s destination province or territory. Currently, provinces and territories are still developing their attestation letter application processes. We’ll keep you updated with the procedures for getting attestation letters as soon as we have new information.
  • Undergraduate and college study permit holders can no longer bring their spouse to Canada on an open work permit. Master’s, doctoral, and professional program students can still do so.

There are also some changes to post-graduation work permits. International students at public-private partnership schools won’t be eligible for a PGWP when they graduate starting from September 1st. However, master’s and short graduate-level program alumni may still be eligible for a three-year work permit.

Since this development is still relatively new, things may change as time passes. We’ll keep you updated on any news, changes, and developments regarding the new study permit policies.

If you’re looking to start your international study in Canada, contact us at BorderPass. We’re here for you every step of the way.

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