International Student Program

Updates on International Student Program Reforms: Ensuring Sustainability and Positive Experiences

Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) recently provided additional details regarding the reforms to the International Student Program (ISP). These changes aim to manage the program’s rapid growth sustainably while ensuring a positive experience for international students in Canada.

Provincial Attestation Letter (PAL) Requirement

Effective January 22, 2024, post-secondary international students at the college or undergraduate level must include a Provincial Attestation Letter (PAL) from a province or territory with their study permit application. The PAL serves as proof that students are accounted for under a provincial or territorial allocation within the national cap, fostering system integrity.

Who Needs a PAL?

Most post-secondary study permit applicants, non-degree granting graduate program graduates, and others not exempt must provide a PAL.

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Exemptions from PAL Requirement

Primary and secondary school students, master’s or doctoral degree students, visiting or exchange students, and certain in-Canada permit holders are exempt from the PAL requirement.

Extended Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) for Master’s Graduates

Starting February 15, 2024, graduates from master’s degree programs less than two years in length are eligible for an extended 3-year PGWP. This change supports their integration into Canada’s labor market and a potential pathway to permanent residence.

Who is Eligible for a Longer PGWP?

Graduates of master’s programs less than two years in length at PGWP-eligible institutions qualify for the extended 3-year PGWP.

Restrictions on PGWPs for Public-Private Partnership College Programs

IRCC has restricted PGWPs for public-private partnership college programs due to concerns about program quality and student support. New students enrolling in such programs will not be eligible for a PGWP, aiming to ensure program integrity and student well-being.

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Who is Affected by the Restriction?

New students enrolling in public-private partnership college programs will not be eligible for a PGWP upon graduation.

Changes to Spousal Open Work Permit Eligibility

Eligibility for open work permits for spouses and common-law partners of international students will be updated. Spouses of students in graduate and professional degree programs will remain eligible, while eligibility for spouses of students in other programs will be limited.

Who Can Obtain an Open Work Permit?

Spouses of students in graduate and professional degree programs can receive an open work permit, while eligibility for spouses of students in other programs will be restricted. The reforms to the International Student Program aim to ensure sustainable growth, system integrity, and positive experiences for international students in Canada.

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These measures address challenges posed by program expansion while supporting the integration of international students into Canada’s labor market and communities.

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