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Understanding the Provincial Attestation Letter (PAL) for International Students in Canada

In January 2024, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) introduced a new requirement for some international students hoping to study in Canada: the Provincial Attestation Letter (PAL). This change comes as part of a strategy to manage the number of international students across Canada, which for 2024 is capped at 360,000 approved study permits. Here’s a simple yet detailed breakdown of what a PAL is, who needs it, and how to get one.

What is a Provincial Attestation Letter (PAL)?

A Provincial Attestation Letter (PAL) is a document that verifies a province’s approval of an international student under its allocated quota of study permits. This letter is required in addition to a Letter of Acceptance (LOA) from a Designated Learning Institution (DLI) for the student to apply for a study permit. The quota system ensures that the number of international students is balanced according to the population of each Canadian province and territory.

Also read Cost of Living for International Students in Ireland 2024

Who Needs a PAL?

Not all international students need a PAL. Here are the categories of students who do and do not require a PAL:

Require a PAL:

  • Students applying for most post-secondary programs, such as undergraduate degrees and non-degree granting programs like diplomas and certificates.

Do not require a PAL:

  • Primary and secondary school students.
  • Students pursuing Master’s or Doctoral degrees.
  • Students already in Canada on a study or work permit, including those applying for extensions.
  • Family members of students or workers already in Canada.
  • Students with a study permit approval who plan to travel to Canada for their studies.
  • Students whose applications were submitted before the new rules took effect.

Also read Higher Stipends Open Doors for International Research Students in Canada

How to Obtain a PAL?

The process of obtaining a PAL involves several straightforward steps:

1. Acceptance from a DLI: 

Secure an LOA from your chosen DLI. This involves confirming your acceptance, typically by paying a deposit. The specifics of this deposit vary by institution, so it is important to communicate directly with the school.

2. Application by DLI: 

Once your admission is confirmed, your DLI will apply for a PAL on your behalf to the provincial government where the institution is located.

3. Receiving your PAL: 

After the PAL is issued, your school will provide it to you. This document, along with your LOA and other required materials, will be used to apply for your Canadian study permit.

Also read How to Apply for an Ireland Student Visa in 2024?

Information Included in a PAL

A PAL typically contains the following information:

  • Full name of the student.
  • Date of birth.
  • Address.

Provincial Distribution of Study Permits

Each province has been given a specific number of study permits to issue. Here’s how some provinces are handling their allocations:

  • Ontario

Largest allocation with 235,000 permits, mostly for public post-secondary institutions.

  • Quebec

Unique system where the Certificat d’Acceptation du Quebec (CAQ) also serves as a PAL.

  • British Columbia (B.C.) 

Allocated 83,000 permits with a near even split between public and private institutions.

  • Alberta

Received an allocation for 40,894 permits.

  • Manitoba

Has 18,652 permits available.

  • Nova Scotia

Allocated 20,378 permits, primarily for universities and community colleges.

  • New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Saskatchewan, and Prince Edward Island

Each follows similar procedures but with varying permit allocations.

Also read What is Genuine Student Test (GST) for Australian Study Visa?


The introduction of the PAL is a significant change in how Canada manages the influx of international students. By understanding the need for a PAL and how to obtain one, prospective students can better prepare for their educational journey in Canada. Always stay in contact with your designated learning institution and check for the latest updates on immigration policies to ensure a smooth application process.

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Written by areeba iqbal

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