International Student FAQs: Canada’s 2024 Policy Updates

Are you considering studying in Canada? As an international student, it’s important to stay up-to-date with the latest policy updates. Canada has made significant changes to its International Student Program for 2024, affecting study permit caps, post-graduation work permit eligibility, and more. In this comprehensive guide, we will address the most frequently asked questions about these policy updates to help you navigate your study journey in Canada.

Note: This article provides information about Canada’s study visa policies and is subject to change. For official guidance, we recommend visiting the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) website or consulting with a reputable immigration consultant like Define Overseas Immigration.

Study Permit Cap and Policy Questions

How is the international student process changing in Canada?

In January 2024, the Canadian government implemented a temporary two-year cap on study permits. This cap limits the number of approved study permits to approximately 360,000 for 2024. However, some students, such as K–12, master’s degree, and doctoral degree students, are exempt from this cap. The cap primarily impacts undergraduate university and college students.

Additional changes announced in January include:

  • Study permits will be allocated based on each province or territory’s population.
  • Starting September 1, 2024, students enrolled at public-private partnership institutions (PPPs) will no longer be eligible to apply for post-graduation work permits (PGWPs) after graduating.
  • Starting January 22, 2024, students who are not exempt from the cap must provide a provincial attestation letter (PAL) as part of their study permit application.
  • Open work permits will be restricted to spouses or common-law partners of international students enrolled in master’s and doctoral programs, as well as students in professional programs like medicine and law.

If you want assistance with your study visa application, consider reaching out to Define Overseas Immigration. Our experienced team can guide you through the process and help you achieve your study goals in Canada.

What is a PPP?

A public-private partnership (PPP) is an agreement between a public college and an affiliated private college. In some provinces, public colleges license their curriculum to private colleges, where instructors deliver the courses. While students physically attend classes at a private college, they receive a diploma from a public institution.

Due to the post-graduation work permit changes, PPPs may become less appealing for some students enrolling after September 1, 2024.

Is the study permit cap permanent?

No, the study permit cap is not permanent. The IRCC will reassess the cap at the end of 2024 and determine the number of new study permit applications to be accepted in 2025.

Which provinces will be most affected by the cap?

The study permit cap will impact each Canadian province or territory differently. Ontario and British Columbia are likely to be among the most affected provinces, making study programs in these provinces more competitive in 2024. However, other provinces like Quebec, Alberta, and Newfoundland and Labrador may have more space for students, potentially making them more appealing options.

If you’re interested in specific data and projections for each province’s application cap, check out Define Overseas Immigration‘s ApplyInsights article on the topic.

Timeline Questions

Do these new guidelines apply to current study permit holders or those planning to renew their study permits?

According to the IRCC, the current study permit caps do not impact current study permit holders or permit renewals. Those pursuing master’s and doctoral degrees, as well as elementary and secondary education, are not included in the cap. Therefore, current study permit holders will not be affected.

However, visiting or exchange students staying in Canada for at least six months are not exempt from the cap.

How do these changes affect study permit applications submitted before the announcement?

Study permit applications submitted before 8:30 AM ET on January 22, 2024, do not require a provincial attestation letter (PAL) and are not subject to the study permit caps. However, any applications received after that time without a PAL, unless the student is exempt, will be returned and refunded. Students will need to resubmit their applications with the attestation letter once it becomes available.

If I completed my biometrics requirements before the announcement, will I be affected?

As long as your study permit application was submitted before January 22, 2024, and you completed your biometrics requirements, your application should proceed as usual. Biometrics appointments typically occur after submitting the study permit application, so you should not be affected by the updates.

I have an offer letter for May or September 2024, but no study permit yet. What should I do?

If you have an offer letter but have not yet obtained a study permit, we recommend paying your tuition deposit as soon as possible. Paying the deposit puts you in line for a provincial attestation letter, which is required for the study permit application. Applying for the study permit earlier increases your chances of avoiding any potential impacts from the study permit cap.

At Define Overseas Immigration, we can assist you with the study permit application process and ensure you have the necessary documents to study in Canada. Contact our team for personalized guidance and support.

Provincial Attestation Letter Questions

Can I get a provincial attestation letter (PAL) now?

As of February 22, PALs are not yet available for all provinces and territories, except Quebec. For students planning to study in Quebec, the Certificat d’Acceptation du Québec (CAQ) can function as a PAL if it includes the required sentence confirming the applicant’s place in the distribution of study permit applications or exemption.

Other provinces and territories are expected to develop processes for issuing PALs by March 31, 2024. For the most up-to-date information, check the official IRCC website.

Can I apply for a study permit without a PAL?

Study permit applications submitted before 8:30 AM ET on January 22, 2024, do not require a PAL. Certain students, including K-12, master’s, and doctoral students, are exempt from needing a PAL.

However, for students enrolled in programs not exempt from this requirement, study permit applications submitted after January 22, 2024, without a provincial attestation letter will be returned and refunded. Students will need to resubmit their applications with the attestation letter once it becomes available from the relevant provincial or territorial government.

Do I need a PAL if I have an offer letter for the May 2024 intake and I’m currently applying for a study visa?

The need for a PAL depends on the level of study. If you’re enrolling in an undergraduate program or a postgraduate certificate or diploma program, you will need a PAL. However, K–12, master’s degree, and doctoral degree students do not require a PAL.

Study permit applications submitted before 8:30 AM ET on January 22, 2024, do not require a PAL. Applications submitted after that time without a PAL will be returned and refunded unless the student is exempt. In such cases, students will need to resubmit their applications with the attestation letter once it becomes available.

PAL processes may vary by province or territory, so be sure to check the official IRCC page for updates.

Study Program Questions

What counts as a professional program in Canada?

According to Statistics Canada, professional degree programs in Canada are undergraduate programs that lead to entry-to-practice professions. Some examples of professional programs include:

  • Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS, DMD)
  • Bachelor of Law or Juris Doctor (LLB, JD, BCL)
  • Doctor of Medicine (MD)
  • Doctor of Optometry (OD)
  • Pharmacy (PharmD, BS, BSc, BPharm)
  • Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM)

Spouses and common-law partners of students enrolled in these professional degree programs will remain eligible for a new open work permit.

What are the differences between a master’s degree, a postgraduate certificate, and a postgraduate diploma?

Master’s Degree

A master’s degree can be either course-based or research-based. Examples of course-based programs include a Master’s of Business Administration (MBA), which typically lasts one to two years. To enroll in a master’s degree program, you usually need to have completed a bachelor’s degree.

Compared to diplomas and certificates, master’s degrees may be more expensive, but they currently offer more generous post-graduation work permit allowances for graduates of programs shorter than two years.

Postgraduate Certificate

A postgraduate certificate is a specialized program that builds on the knowledge and skills acquired during previous studies. These programs are often shorter in duration, ranging from a few months to a year. Postgraduate certificates are designed to provide practical skills and enhance employment prospects in specific fields.

Postgraduate Diploma

Similar to a postgraduate certificate, a postgraduate diploma is a specialized program that offers in-depth knowledge and skills development. These programs typically last one to two years and provide a comprehensive understanding of a specific subject area. Postgraduate diplomas focus on practical application and can enhance career opportunities.

Define Overseas Immigration is dedicated to helping international students find the right study program in Canada. Our team can provide personalized support, including assistance with program selection, application processes, and study permit applications. Contact us to start your study journey in Canada.


Staying informed about Canada’s study visa policies is crucial for international students. The 2024 policy updates, including the study permit cap and changes to post-graduation work permit eligibility, may impact your study plans in Canada. By understanding the guidelines and requirements, you can navigate the application process with confidence.

Remember, it’s important to consult official sources such as the IRCC website for the most accurate and up-to-date information. If you require assistance or personalized guidance, Define Overseas Immigration is here to help. Our experienced team can provide expert advice and support throughout your study visa journey in Canada.

Start your study journey in Canada today and unlock a world of opportunities!

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