Canada Temporarily Caps Study Permits by 35%

A map of Canada overlaid with photos of international students and sector professionals.

On January 22, 2024, the Canadian government announced a temporary two-year cap on Canadian study permits. This means the number of approved study permits in 2024 will be limited to around 360,000, to be allocated by province. 

Master’s, PhD, and K-12 students, current study permit holders, and those looking to extend their studies are fully exempt from this cap, meaning this will primarily affect those seeking an undergraduate or college education in Canada. 

The news from the IRCC is a significant shift in policy from the previous decade, and is meant to help ensure the success and well-being of all current and future international students in Canada. 

Keep reading for further details on what these changes mean for students, recruitment professionals, and institutions.

Quick Summary

  • This temporary two-year cap will reduce accepted study permits by 35% in 2024.
  • Master’s, PhD, K-12 students, and current study permit holders will not be affected.
  • Study permits will be allocated based on each province’s population. 
  • As of September 1, students who enroll at public-private partnership institutions will no longer be able to access post-graduation work permits after graduating. 

Students Now Require an Attestation Letter  

Effective immediately, affected students must provide a provincial attestation letter as part of their study permit application. Applications missing an attestation letter will be returned to the applicant. 

Each province is expected to set an attestation letter process by March 31. Currently, only Quebec has a process in place. More details on this are expected to emerge as provinces define their plans for issuing attestation letters. 

Important: Master’s, PhD, and K-12 students are fully exempt from this cap and do not need to provide an attestation letter. The cap also does not apply to current study permit holders or those looking to extend their studies. 

An illustrated map of Canada with an icon of the Canadian flag.

Study Permits Will Be Allocated by Province

Study permits will be allocated based on each province’s population. This means that applying to diverse locations within Canada will be more important than ever before. 

The cap is more likely to affect students heading to Ontario, British Columbia, or Nova Scotia.

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PGWPs Will Be Limited

Starting September 1, 2024, international students who begin a study program that is part of a curriculum licensing arrangement (public-private partnership) will no longer be eligible for a post-graduation work permit (PGWP) upon graduation. Students who hope to work in Canada after graduating should pay close attention to these new PGWP qualification rules. 

However, there is good news for certain students too: graduates of master’s and other short graduate-level programs will soon be eligible to apply for a 3-year work permit. More details on this are expected to be released soon, but this change will ensure that graduate students applying for PGWPs are not penalized by a short program length. 

Spousal Work Permits Will Be Limited

Starting soon, open work permits will only be available to spouses of international students enrolled in master’s and doctoral programs, as well as professional programs such as medicine and law.

Undergraduate and college students who are planning to bring spouses or dependants to Canada should be aware of this change. 


These changes are significant, and will have a considerable effect on the movement of international students to Canada. ApplyBoard will continue to post updates and findings as these new policies take effect. 

Ultimately, these changes have the best interests of international students at heart, and will have positive long-term effects for those students who do come to Canada and find success there. ApplyBoard partners can rest assured that qualified students will continue to achieve their Canadian study dreams with the help of our platform. 

As always, for the most up-to-date information, please visit the news page on the IRCC website.


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