FAQs around IRCC’s study permit announcement

Asheesh Moosapeta
Published: January 29, 2024

Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) made impactful changes to Canada’s international student program on January 22nd, imposing a new cap on study permit approvals for 2024 and implementing a new provincial attestation letter policy for international students applying for their study permit.

In the wake of these announcements, prospective international students have been left with several questions as to how these new changes will be implemented, and what impact it may have on their study permit chances. This article will cover some of the most common queries around studying in Canada and attempt to clarify what details have been revealed thus far by IRCC.

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When will these new changes come into effect?

IRCC has implemented the new study permit cap, and the attestation letter process starting from January 22nd, when the initial announcement was made. This means that, through the remainder of the year, only 360,000 study permit applications will be approved.

What may cause some confusion, however, is that the process for provincial and territorial governments to issue attestation letters has yet to be finalised. Provinces and territories have until March 31st, of this year, to implement this process.

I have a letter of acceptance and am planning to arrive to Canada soon, do these changes impact me?

The new changes to the international student program extend to anyone who did not submit their study permit application before January 22nd, 2024.

This means that even if you have received a letter of acceptance (LOA) to study at a Designated Learning Institution (DLI)—unless you have applied for your study permit before January 22nd, you will be subject to these new policies.

Will I have to wait till March 31st to apply for my study permit?

At the time of writing, it remains unclear whether international students will have to wait until the end of March to apply for their study permits.

More specifically, the responsibility now lies with Canada’s provinces and territories to develop a process for issuing attestation letters to international students. If provincial/territorial governments can establish this framework before March 31st, international students may be able to apply for their study permits sooner.

Are there any study permit applications after January 22nd that are exempt from this new cap and process?

According to IRCC, certain study permit applications will not be subject to these new changes. These are:

  • Minor children applying to attend primary or secondary school (kindergarten to grade 12);
  • Students applying to attend a masters, PhD or other post-graduate program; and/or
  • Students applying to extend/renew their study permits.

Will I have to get IRCC approval if I want to switch my educational institute in 2024?

As of now, it is unclear what the process will be for international students who wish to change their DLIs in the coming year. IRCC may likely provide more clarity on this as the year continues.

Is this a permanent change to the international student program?

Per the January 22nd release, the new international student cap and attestation letter process is a temporary measure, that is set to be in effect for the next two years. IRCC has stated that it will reassess the cap imposed on international students for 2025 at the end of this year.

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