Canada’s International Student Program has long been a beacon for global learners, contributing significantly to the nation’s campuses, communities, and economy. However, recent reforms aim to ensure sustainable growth and enhance the overall experience for international students in Canada. In this article, we’ll break down the key changes announced on February 5, 2024.

Cap and Provincial Attestation Letter (PAL):

To manage the exponential growth in the International Student Program, a cap on new post-secondary international student applications has been introduced. Starting from January 22, 2024, most applicants must include a Provincial Attestation Letter (PAL) from a province or territory with their study permit application. The PAL serves as proof that the student is accounted for within the national cap.

Who Needs a PAL?

– Most post-secondary study permit applicants

– Most non-degree granting graduate programs

– Others not on the exception list

Who Doesn’t Need a PAL?

– Primary and secondary school students

– Master’s or doctoral degree students

– Visiting or exchange students

– In-Canada study and work permit holders

– Students with applications received before January 22, 2024

Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) Update for Master’s Degree Graduates:

Recognizing the potential of master’s degree graduates in the Canadian job market, a positive change has been made to the PGWP. Starting February 15, 2024, graduates from master’s programs less than 2 years in length can now apply for a 3-year PGWP, aligning with the goal of gaining the required Canadian work experience for permanent residence.

Who is Eligible for a Longer PGWP?

Graduates of master’s programs less than 2 years in length

PGWP Eligibility for Public-Private Partnership College Programs:

Concerns about the quality of education and student support in some public-private partnership college programs have led to changes in PGWP eligibility. New students enrolling in such programs will no longer be eligible for a post-graduation work permit, aiming to address these concerns.

Who is Eligible?

Current international students in these programs

Who is Not Eligible?

– New students enrolling in public-private partnership college programs

Changes to Open Work Permit Eligibility for Spouses:

Upcoming changes will impact open work permit eligibility for spouses and common-law partners of international students. The focus will be on those in graduate and professional degree programs, ensuring continuity for those extending existing work permits.

Who Can Get an Open Work Permit?

– Only spouses and common-law partners of students in graduate (master’s and doctorate) and professional degree programs will be eligible.

– Once these changes are in effect, spouses and common-law partners of international students seeking to extend their existing work permit will continue to be eligible under this stream.

Who Will Not Be Eligible?

– If your spouse or common-law partner is an international student in college or undergraduate programs, they can’t get a new open work permit, unless they already hold an open work permit under this stream.


These recent adjustments to Canada’s International Student Program aim to strike a balance between welcoming global learners and ensuring sustainable growth. By implementing these changes, the government seeks to create a positive environment for international students while maintaining the integrity of the immigration system.

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