March 8, 2024

British Columbia Now Issuing Provincial Attestation Letters for International Students: A Guide for Future Learners

On March 4, 2024, British Columbia (BC) implemented a new system for international students applying for study permits. This system involves Provincial Attestation Letters (PALs), which are crucial documents for securing a study permit in the province. This blog aims to provide a comprehensive guide for prospective international students navigating this new process in BC.

What are Provincial Attestation Letters (PALs)?

PALs are verification letters issued by the BC government to confirm that an international student applicant has been accepted by a Designated Learning Institution (DLI) within the province's designated allocation. This allocation refers to the maximum number of study permits that the federal government, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), has authorized BC to issue for the year.

How Does the PAL System Work?

  1. Applicant receives acceptance: An international student receives an acceptance letter from a BC DLI.
  2. DLI requests PAL: The DLI submits a request for a PAL to the BC government on behalf of the accepted student.
  3. BC government issues PAL: The BC government reviews the request and issues a PAL to the DLI.
  4. DLI sends PAL to applicant: The DLI then forwards the PAL to the international student applicant.
  5. Applicant submits application with PAL: The applicant includes the PAL along with their study permit application package and submits it to IRCC.

Key Points to Remember

PALs are mandatory: Starting March 4, 2024, all international students applying for a study permit to study in BC must include a PAL with their application.

DLI facilitates PAL issuance: The DLI manages the communication and exchange of PALs between the student and the BC government. Students should reach out to their chosen DLI for further information on the PAL application process.

PALs do not guarantee study permit approval: While a PAL confirms acceptance by a DLI within the allocation, it does not guarantee approval of the study permit by IRCC.

Understanding the Study Permit Cap

The introduction of PALs comes alongside a significant change implemented by IRCC in January 2024. IRCC has established a cap on the total number of new study permits it will issue across Canada in 2024. This cap represents a 35% reduction compared to the number issued in 2023. The number of study permits allocated to each province, including BC, is determined based on population.

Impact on International Student Enrollment in BC

BC anticipates the cap to have a greater impact on private institutions within the province. The province has also implemented additional measures aimed at addressing concerns regarding "unsustainable growth" in its international student program. These measures include:

  1. Pausing approvals: New post-secondary institutions seeking to enroll international students will not be approved until February 2026.
  2. Raising standards for private programs: Private degree programs will face stricter approval criteria, including higher standards for program quality, demonstrated labor market need for graduates, and adequate student support services.
  3. Introducing minimum language requirements: Private institutions will need to implement minimum language proficiency requirements for international students.

What This Means for Prospective International Students

These changes signify a more competitive environment for securing a study permit in BC, particularly for applicants to private institutions. It is crucial for prospective students to:

  1. Plan and apply early: Due to the cap and potential competition, starting the application process well in advance is essential.
  2. Research thoroughly: Choose a DLI that aligns with your academic goals and offers a program with a strong reputation and proven track record.
  3. Meet language requirements: Ensure you meet the minimum language proficiency requirements, if applicable, based on your chosen institution and program.
  4. Prepare a strong application: Present a well-rounded application package demonstrating academic merit, financial viability, and clear study intentions.


The introduction of PALs and the implementation of the study permit cap by IRCC mark significant changes for international students seeking to study in BC. This blog provides a basic understanding of these changes and aims to guide prospective students in navigating the new application process. Remember, thorough research, early planning, and a strong application remain key to securing your study permit aspirations in British Columbia.

Thinking about moving to Canada?

New rules for international students in British Columbia, like the Provincial Attestation Letter (PAL), might affect your application.

Pelican Migration Consultants, a reliable mmigration consultants in Dubai, can help you understand the new system and make sure your application is complete.

Our immigration specialists know Canadian immigration rules well and can help people like you study and live in Canada.

We offer different services to fit your needs, including:

  1. Checking your options: We'll look at your situation and find the best way for you to immigrate.
  2. Explaining PALs: We'll give you clear information about PALs and how they work.
  3. Helping with your application: We'll guide you through gathering documents and filling out your application properly.
  4. Supporting you throughout: We'll be there for you every step of the way, answering your questions and addressing any concerns.

Want to study in Canada? Contact Pelican Migration Consultants today. We'll help you navigate the immigration process and make your Canadian dream a reality.