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Canada: Int’l student intake capped at approximately 292,000

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Canadas IRCC

Canada’s Immigration Minister Marc Miller has indicated that the actual number of study permits available for international college and undergraduate students this year, is approximately 292,000.

Earlier in January this year, Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) had announced that there would be an overall intake cap of approximately 360,000 study permit applications approval, has clarified that the estimate includes cap-exempt study permits.

Consequently, only 292,000 new study permits for college and university undergraduate programs will be approved this year.

This measure is aimed to address the “unsustainable growth” in Canada’s international student program by reducing the number of approved study permits by 35% over two years, with the additional goal of enhancing the system’s integrity.

However, it’s important to note that the immigration minister is unable to limit the number of approved visas, only the number of applications processed by IRCC.

What the Minister said

During a recent meeting of the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration (CIMM), the Minister explained this limitation.

He clarified that the cap was set based on an assumed acceptance and rejection rate, with the intake distributed across Canada’s population. He said,

  • “I can only cap the applications and not the actual issuance of visas.”
  • The way it works through the math is that we assume a level of acceptance and rejection at our level, and it churns out a bunch of visas. What we did was cap the intake at a certain level then we distributed it generally by population across Canada”, he said.

The Minister’s instructions set an application processing cap of 606,250 permits, excluding primary and secondary school students and master’s and doctorate level programs.

This would result in approximately 360,000 approved study permits in 2024, assuming a 60% approval rate.

However, IRCC’s latest aim is to approve only 292,200 new study permits for college and undergraduate programs.

IRCC has delegated the implementation of the study permit cap to provincial governments, who are responsible for issuing Provincial Attestation Letters (PALs) to international students eligible to study at Designated Learning Institutions (DLIs) in their jurisdiction.

PALs indicate to IRCC that the student is authorized under the province or territory where their school is located to count towards the province’s study permit allocation.

What this means

International students from Nigeria and other countries applying for study permits will now need both a letter of acceptance (LOA) and a PAL.

PALs must be provided by the provincial/territorial government and include the applicant’s full name, date of birth, and address.

Provinces have until March 31st, 2024, to create and implement systems for delivering PALs, with British Columbia and Alberta being the first to announce their systems. These systems will provide PALs to students through their DLIs, based on their respective populations.


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