6 Things You Should Know About Canada Study Permit in 2024

The Government of Canada announced changes to the study permit and work permit on January, 2024 to reduce strains on Canadian infrastructure, such as housing, healthcare, and social services, caused by the rapid influx of international students.

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6 Things You Should Know About Canada Study Permit in 2024

The Canada study permit is a mandatory document for foreign nationals to study at designated learning institutions (DLIs) in Canada, excluding those enrolled in programs shorter than six months.

Canada is a preferred destination for international students due to various factors, including opportunities to work while studying to cover living expenses. Hence, the number of international students in Canada increased significantly, with over 1 million holding valid Canadian student visas in 2023, a 29% increase from the previous year. Among the fastest-growing student populations in Canada are African countries, with Guinea (+180% growth), Ghana (+167%), Nigeria (+113%), Rwanda (+101), Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Senegal, and Algeria making the top 10 list.  Almost 18,000 Canadian study permits were issued to Nigerian students in the first six months of 2023, more than for any other country but India.

In 2024, the Canadian government implemented significant changes to the study permit application process to address concerns about unsustainable growth in the International Student Program and ensure system integrity.

These changes aim to stabilize the number of international students, improve system integrity, and ensure a positive experience for international students while supporting sustainable population growth.

1) Temporary Cap on Study Permits

The Temporary Cap on Study Permit is a two-year measure to regulate the number of new study permits issued to international students to approximately 360,000, a 35% decrease compared to 2023 figures.

This limit manages the rapid growth of international students in Canada and ensures system integrity. Each province and territory will receive a portion of the permits based on their population size.

The cap will affect undergraduate universities and college students most significantly, with some provinces (e.g., Ontario) expecting a 50% reduction in study permit approval.

2) Attestation Letter Requirement

Students not exempt from the cap, including non-degree granting graduate programs, must provide a Provincial Attestation Letter (PAL) as part of their study permit application, starting from January 22, 2024. If the PAL is omitted, the application will be returned as incomplete and not processed.

The PAL serves as proof that the student has been accounted for under a provincial or territorial allocation within the cap limit set by the federal government for the International Student Program.

3) Study Permit Allocation

Study permits are allocated based on each province or territory’s population, with provinces and territories controlling how permits are assigned within their jurisdiction. 

The allocations for new study permit applications in 2024 are as follows:

  • British Columbia: 83,000
  • Alberta: 41,000
  • Ontario: 235,000
  • Nova Scotia: 12,900
  • New Brunswick: 9,400
  • Prince Edward Island: 3,300

Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Quebec, and Newfoundland and Labrador are yet to receive their allocations. Provinces and territories are expected to establish a process for issuing attestation letters to students no later than March 31, 2024.

4) Exemptions from Cap and PAL

Exemptions from the cap and PAL apply to certain categories of students, including those renewing existing study permits, currently holding study permits, obtaining study permits for master’s and doctoral degrees, and applying for study permits relating to elementary and secondary school education.

These exemptions ensure that certain groups of students are not affected by the new cap and attestation letter requirements.

5) Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) Update

The PGWP program has undergone updates in 2024, affecting the length of the PGWP for graduates of master’s degree programs. Starting on February 15, 2024, a longer, 3-year post-graduation work permit will be available to those graduating from a master’s degree program that is less than 2 years in length. Graduates of master’s degree programs are now eligible for a 3-year PGWP.

Additionally, from September 1, 2024, international students enrolled in a study program offered by a public-private partnership (PPP) institution under a curriculum licensing agreement will no longer be eligible for the PGWP upon graduation.

6) Changes to Open Work Permit Eligibility for Spouses

Under Canada’s new study permit rules, spouses or common-law partners of international students enrolled in undergraduate and college programs will no longer be eligible for an open work permit, provided they already possess one within this category.

However, partners and spouses of international students enrolled in master’s or doctoral degree programs in Canada will remain eligible for an open work permit.

To be eligible for an open work permit, individuals must meet additional criteria under each situation. For example, they must have a valid temporary resident status, have applied to extend their status before it expired (maintained status) or be eligible to restore their status if they’re in Canada.

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