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Study in British Columbia: Understanding Provincial Attestation Letters


The journey of international students seeking higher education in British Columbia (B.C.) has taken a new turn with the introduction of Provincial Attestation Letters (PALs). As of March 4, 2024, the B.C. government has implemented a PAL system, which is now a mandatory component of the study permit application process for international students.


A young student confused by all the new study permit laws and regulations. At Ansari Immigration we are here to help you navigate these new restrictions.

What is a Provincial Attestation Letter? 

A PAL is a document issued by the province to confirm that an international student has been accepted by a Designated Learning Institution (DLI) within the province’s allocated number of international students. This system was introduced in response to the federal government’s cap on the number of study permits issued in 2024, which aims to manage the growth of international student programs and ensure sustainable development.


Why the Change? The change comes amidst concerns over the rapid growth of international student numbers and the associated strain on resources, including housing. With over one million active study permits in Canada in 2023, the federal government has decided to reduce the number of new study permits by 35% compared to the previous year. This measure is intended to alleviate pressure on infrastructure and improve the quality of life for students.


Impact on Students and Institutions The PAL system affects both students and post-secondary institutions. For students, the PAL is an additional step in the application process, requiring them to secure a letter from their institution as proof of acceptance within the federal cap. For institutions, particularly private ones, the new system represents a significant shift, with a 27% reduction in study permit applications compared to 2023.


Distribution of PALs The distribution of PALs between public and private post-secondary institutions in B.C. is set at 53% and 47%, respectively. This allocation supports public institutions in maintaining their international student programs while managing growth for the current and future years.


A young student confused by all the new study permit laws and regulations. At Ansari Immigration we are here to help you navigate these new restrictions.

Looking Ahead The PAL system is the first of its kind in Canada since the federal government introduced a cap on study permits. Other provinces are expected to follow suit, adapting to the new federal requirements. As the landscape of international education evolves, it is crucial for students and institutions to stay informed and prepared for these changes.


In conclusion, the PAL system represents a significant change for international students and educational institutions in British Columbia. While it poses challenges, it also reflects a commitment to sustainable growth and quality education for all students. As the system takes effect, it will be essential to monitor its impact and adapt accordingly to ensure that B.C. remains a welcoming and supportive environment for international learners.


What are the eligibility criteria for PAL?


The eligibility criteria for a Provincial Attestation Letter (PAL) in British Columbia are as follows:


Additionally, there are some categories of students who are not required to obtain a PAL, such as:


What documents are needed for PAL application?


To apply for a Provincial Attestation Letter (PAL) in British Columbia, you will need the following documents:


Make sure that your personal information is accurate and matches the details in your passport. If there are any discrepancies, contact your DLI immediately to correct them before submitting your application.


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