IRCC sets cap on the number of study permit applications it will consider in 2024

Asheesh Moosapeta
Published: February 3, 2024

Following Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada’s (IRCC’s) announcement on the 22nd of January, the department has also set a cap on the number of study permit applications it will consider in 2024.

According to ministerial instructions released by IRCC, the department will consider a maximum of 606,250 study permit applications in 2024. This cap is different from the one stated on January 22nd, (360,000 study permit applications), which specifically involves study permit approvals.

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These new instructions instead reference the total number of study permit applications that will even be considered by IRCC throughout the course of 2024. This means over the next 11 months IRCC will limit itself to processing these 606, 250 study permit applications, regardless of the decision reached on each application.

The instructions go a step further, stating that this new cap on study permits accepted for processing may be “amended in accordance with any subsequent instructions the minister may provide.” This implies that if IRCC does not reach the 360,000 approved study permit application cap within the processing cap of 606,250 applicants, the minister may increase the latter number to do so.

How do these numbers compare to 2023?

According to data obtained through Canada’s open government data portal, 579,075 study permit applications came into effect (i.e. approved) in 2023 (between January and November of that year). These approved applications came out of a total of 814,317 applications that were processed by the department during the same time frame—yielding an approval rate of 71%.

Compared to the numbers of approved and processed study permit applications, the limits announced in 2024 represent significant decreases in both processing and approvals for study permit applications.

How will the new study permit cap work?

The new cap on study permit approvals (360,000) will be allocated between Canada’s provinces and weighted by their respective populations. Accordingly, the provinces of Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia are expected to see the highest number of study permit allocations, being the three most populous provinces in Canada.

This new policy will be implemented through a system of attestation letters, wherein individuals applying for a study permit will need both a letter of acceptance (LOA) from their designated learning institution (DLI) of choice, as well as an attestation letter from the province where the DLI is located.

Based on these new ministerial instructions, attestation letters must be written and signed by the provincial/territorial government, confirming that the applicant has a space within that province or territory’s allotted study permit approval cap. Further according to the ministerial instructions, attestation letters must contain an applicant’s:

  • Full name;
  • Date of birth; and
  • Address.

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