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7th Feb 2024

Canada: Updated guidance on international student enrolment cap

Short on time? Here are the highlights:
  • Canada’s immigration ministry has provided additional details on its new requirements for provincial attestation letters, along with new provisions for post-study work rights for master’s and doctoral students and the new restrictions on work rights for students in public-private partnerships

A 5 February statement from Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) offers some additional detail on the hard cap on study permits announced on 22 January.

The provincial attestation letter

The 5 February statement specifies that as of 8:30 am ET on 22 January 2024, "most new post-secondary international students at the college or undergraduate level must provide a provincial attestation letter (PAL)…with their study permit application." It also clearly indicates that, as of that effective date, IRCC will "will return any application received that does not include a PAL, unless otherwise exempt."

The exemptions for the new PAL requirement are as follows:

  • International students whose study permit applications were filed in advance of the 22 January effective date
  • International students whose study permit applications have already been approved

And the new PAL requirement does not apply at all to the following student groups:

  • Primary and secondary school students
  • Master's or doctoral students (note, however, that those applying to non-degree granting graduate programmes [for example, certificates and graduate diplomas] will require a PAL)
  • Visiting or exchange students
  • Those students already in Canada with a valid study permit
  • In-Canada family members of study permit holders

Post-study work rights for graduate students

IRCC has now specified that, "Starting on 15 February 2024, a longer, three-year post-graduation work permit will be available to those who are graduating from a master’s degree programme that is less than two years and who meet all other PGWP [post-graduation work permit] eligibility criteria."

Post-study work rights for PPP students

IRCC has clarified as well that international students currently enrolled in college programmes delivered via public-private partnerships will continue to be eligible for post-graduation work permits. However, new students enrolling in such programmes after 1 September 2024, will not be eligible for a PGWP.

For additional background, please see:

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