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Adjusting to Canada’s 2024 Policy Shift: A Guide for International Students


Canada has always been a beacon for international students seeking quality education. However, recent policy changes on study permits by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) signal a significant shift. Understanding these changes and preparing accordingly is crucial for prospective students and educational institutions alike.

Reasons for the Change:

IRCC’s policy revision is primarily driven by the need to preserve the integrity of the international student program, which has recently faced challenges. An unprecedented increase in student numbers has put pressure on Canada’s housing, healthcare, and other public services. Concerns also emerged about inadequate support for students and the exploitation of educational systems for financial gain. Additionally, the government is addressing issues with the designated learning institution (DLI) framework and has introduced financial requirement adjustments to reflect actual living costs in Canada.

The Proposed Changes:

  1. Cap on International Student Permits: For 2024, there will be a cap of approximately 360,000 new study permits, marking a 35% decrease from 2023. This cap will vary by province and territory based on population and growth rates. 
  2. Exemptions and Start Date: The cap on study permits, effective from January 22, 2024, does not apply to renewals or to applicants for master’s, doctoral, and elementary/secondary education. Those who submitted their study permit applications before this date are not subject to the new policies. However, anyone who received a Letter of Acceptance (LOA) from a Designated Learning Institution (DLI) but did not apply for their study permit by January 22nd will be affected by these changes.
  3. Distribution of Caps: Provinces and territories are responsible for distributing their caps among designated learning institutions. Starting January 22, 2024, all applicable applications must include an attestation letter from the respective province or territory. However, provinces have until March 31, 2024, to establish their processes for issuing these attestation letters. It’s important to note that these attestation letters are required in addition to, not as a replacement for, the Letter of Acceptance (LOA) from a Canadian DLI. This means, unless your study permit application falls under an exempted category, it’s not feasible to proceed until the attestation letter procedures are in place in your province or territory.
  4. Post-Graduation Work Permit Program Changes:
    1. Starting September 1, 2024, those who begin a study program under a curriculum licensing arrangement will no longer qualify for post-graduation work permits. These licensing arrangements typically involve students attending a private college that delivers a curriculum licensed from a public college.
    2. Graduates with master’s degrees will soon be eligible for a three-year post-graduation work permit. As of the date of this publication, the specific commencement date for this new eligibility rule has not yet been announced.
  5. Spousal Open Work Permits: The upcoming policy change will soon restrict open work permits to spouses of international students enrolled in master’s and doctoral programs. The exact date when this new policy will take effect has not been announced yet.
  6. Effective Period: These measures will be in place for two years, with a reassessment planned for the end of 2024.

Proactive Measures:

  • Exploring Exemptions: Prioritize programs not subject to the new caps, such as master’s, doctoral, and elementary/secondary education. This approach might offer more opportunities.
  • Understanding Provincial Allocations: Stay informed about the specific caps and requirements for the province or territory of interest. Considering destinations that are less popular among international students might increase your chances.
  • Alternative Pathways: If the new rules significantly impact your desired program in Canada, explore different immigration routes or consider studying in other countries.
  • Plan for Spouse Work Permits: If you plan to bring a spouse, assess how the new policies could affect their ability to get a work permit. You might need to explore other financial plans or investigate alternative programs that allow your spouse to work in Canada.


These changes represent a shift in Canada’s approach to managing its international student population. However, while these new policies pose challenges, proactive planning and a deep understanding of the new policies can help navigate this new landscape effectively.


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