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Earlier this year, Canada announced a cap on the number of international students undertaking studies in Canada. Minister Miller has just confirmed the number of new study permits to be allocated in 2024 as well as how the allocation will be distributed per province. This is big news for students considering applying for a study permit in 2024, as the quotas will have a big impact on which international students are able to successfully apply to study in Canada.

Key Takeaways:

  • Competition to study in Ontario and BC will be high, whereas students applying to study in Alberta, Quebec, Saskatchewan or Canada’s territories may not be impacted so heavily. 
  • Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) plans on issuing 291,914 Study Permits in 2024, representing a 28% drop in 2023 for cap-affected groups. 
  • Based on estimated approval rates, IRCC has set the International student permit allocation for 2024 at 552,095. This means they will only process 552,095 study permit applications this year.
  • There are a number of steps you can take to improve your chances of receiving a Provincial Attestation Letter, including enrolling in programs for in-demand skills in certain provinces, and avoiding provinces with low quotas and high rejection rates.

Watch our video

How Are Study Permits Being Allocated in Canada? 

The following provinces will see an overall increase in the number of students they may accept compared to the number of international students studying in 2023: 

  • Alberta
  • Newfoundland and Labrador
  • Northwest Territories
  • Quebec 
  • Saskatchewan
  • Yukon. 

The remaining provinces will see a decrease in the number of international students, when compared to 2023: 

  • BC (-47%)
  • Manitoba (-16%)
  • New Brunswick (-20%)
  • Nova Scotia (-28%)
  • Ontario (-62%)
  • Prince Edward Island (-22%).

How Did IRCC Decide on Amount of Study Permits They Will Issue in 2024? 

IRCC is following a net- zero growth model for 2024 which means the number of international students coming to Canada in 2024 should be the same as the number of international students whose permits will expire this year. There are 485,000 study permits set to expire in 2024. 

To maintain a net-zero growth model, in determining the final number, IRCC deducted from the number of permits expiring, the number of students expected to submit a study permit extension and with a small buffer to allow for other variations, as well as the number of students that will come to Canada in 2024 who are cap-exempt. 

When taking into consideration provincial adjustments, IRCC is set to welcome only 291,914 new international students this year,  a drop of 28% from 2023. Based on the estimated approval rate, IRCC will accept into processing, 552,095 study permit applications for 2024


How Is the Allocation Distribution Calculated?

IRCC has distributed the study permit allocation based on the population share of each province. This means that some provinces will get more international students in 2024 compared to 2023 and others will get fewer. 

This is where it gets complicated. 

For provinces that would receive more international students in 2024 than in 2023, IRCC adjusted their allocation to limit growth to 10%. For instance, Alberta, should increase its international student permit by 23%. Instead, it is limited to 10%.

For provinces that would receive fewer international students in 2024 than in 2023, IRCC adjusted their allocation to limit the negative impact and to support broader regional immigration goals.  An example of this is Ontario. According to their population share, Ontario should have an allocation of 152,394. This would represent a 62% drop compared to last year. In efforts to limit the negative impact, IRCC has increased its allocation to 235,000.

IRCC also topped up allocations in provinces that currently have a lower approval rate than 60%. An example of this is Prince Edward Island which has an allocation of 2,312 which is expected to yield 1,202 study permit approvals. 

Which Provinces are Most Impacted by These Allocations?

The provinces of British Columbia and Ontario are going to be the provinces most affected by the distribution of Study Permit allocations.

Ontario will see the biggest decrease. It welcomed 239,753 cap-applicable international students in 2023, but will be limited to 141,000 for 2024. This is a massive decrease in the number of new students coming to the province. 

British Columbia too will see a significant decrease. It welcomed 60,864 cap applicable international students in 2023. In 2024, this number will be slashed to 49,800.

How Can I Increase My Chances of Studying in Canada?

The allocation of study permits adds a layer of complexity to studying in Canada. We can see that study permits only have an approval rate of 60%, so even prior to this cap, your odds of successfully receiving your study permit were 6/10. Now, the process will also be more competitive since you have to stand out to the province to receive a Provincial Attestation Letter so you can even apply for a study permit in the first place. 

With that being said, there are a number of ways you can increase your chances of receiving a Provincial Attestation Letter from a province so you can apply to study in Canada: 

  • Apply to study in a program that provides in-demand skills. Ontario has already outlined that it will prioritize providing PALs to those with high-demand programs like skilled trades, childcare, STEM, hospitality and human resources and French language enrolment. 
  • Apply to study in a province or territory that will receive an overall increase in international students under the new federal allocation, namely Alberta, Quebec, Saskatchewan, and the territories. 
  • Avoid applying to provinces with a high refusal rate and low quota like Newfoundland and Labrador, which has an approval rate of 45% and a low quota of 1,419 permits. 
  • Apply early. As PAL’s are now quota-based, applying early to beat the crowd will increase your chances of securing one. 
  • For BC specifically, you may wish to increase your English language proficiency. The province has outlined that it intends to create new minimum language requirements that international students should meet to study in BC. 
  • Consider applying to a public post-secondary institution over private colleges. We’re seeing that public institutions are receiving a higher allocation of PALS from provinces, including in BC, Nova Scotia, and Ontario.

If you’re considering studying in Canada in 2024, good luck! For free resources, including a study checklist and an immigration quiz, sign up for your free Moving2Canada account.

About the author

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Rebecca Major

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 "International Student Cap Allocation- Who Gets What?." Moving2Canada. . Copy for Citation


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