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Ontario has just announced how it plans to distribute its coveted Provincial Attestation Letters, with 96% of allocation going to students enrolled in public colleges and universities and ‘careers colleges’ being left high and dry with no allocation.

In January 2024, Minister Miller imposed a cap on the number of study permits Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC)  will process, with the goal to reduce the number of approved study permit applications in 2024 and 2025.

In rolling out this cap, each province and territory has been allocated a portion of the cap, determined on population size, in an effort to better distribute international students across Canada. Ontario, which boasts the highest numbers of international students in Canada, will be forced to cut its intake by around 50%. 

In response to this, the Ontario government has confirmed how it intends to distribute its cap amongst the demands of Ontario based educational institutions. 

Key takeaways: 

  • Since January 2024, study permit applicants must have received a Provincial Attestation Letter (PAL) to receive a study permit in Canada. A PAL is proof that there is room in the provincial cap for that student.
  • 96% of Ontario’s annual cap will go to international students intending to study at public colleges and universities.
  • Ontario institutions international student count cannot exceed a ratio of 55% of the institution’s 2023 1st-year domestic enrolment. 
  • Within public colleges and universities, priority will be given to those with high-demand programs like skilled trades, childcare, STEM, hospitality and human resources and French language enrolment. 
  • The remaining 4% of PALs will be distributed across language schools, private universities and unspecified “other institutions”.
  • Career colleges (private post-secondary institutions that provide career-specific, outcome-based programs) will not receive any cap allocation.  

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Why is Ontario focusing on public universities and colleges?

This move is designed to protect the integrity of the province’s postsecondary education system, whilst ensuring international students are enrolled in programs to meet Ontario’s labour market needs, as confirmed by Ontario Minister of Colleges and Universities, Jill Dunlop.

What does this mean for those hoping to study in Ontario?

If you intend to study in Canada as an international student, then consider applying to only public colleges and universities to increase your chances of receiving a PAL. 

If you are set on studying at a language school or private university, consider a province other than Ontario to increase your chances of receiving a PAL and subsequent study permit. 

If worrying about receiving a PAL is too much, consider applying to Masters and Doctoral level studies which are currently exempt from the need to provide a PAL.

How do Ontario bound international students get a PAL? 

Ontario hasn’t formally shared any information about receiving a Provincial Attestation Letter and has until March 31st 2024 to develop a system to handle these requests. For now, those who need a PAL should contact the admissions office of their postsecondary institution. 

Will these changes impact international students currently studying in Ontario?

No, if you have already received your study permit and are enrolled in a postsecondary institute in Ontario, this latest update will not impact your ability to continue your studies in Ontario.

Interested in studying in Canada? Sign up for a Moving2Canada account for free step-by step guidance on how you can study in Canada. 

About the author

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Rebecca Major

She/Her
Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant
Rebecca Major is a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant (R511564) with nearly 15 years of licenced Canadian Immigration experience, gained after graduating with a Bachelor of Laws in the UK. She specializes in Canadian immigration at Moving2Canada.
Read more about Rebecca Major
Citation "Ontario Confirms Who Gets Provincial Attestation Letters." Moving2Canada. . Copy for Citation

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