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March 19, 2024

What should be included in your Letter of Acceptance as an international student

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has recently updated the guidelines for what they recommend Canadian Designated Learning Institutions (DLIs) include in an international student’s Letter of Acceptance (LOA).

Canadian international students can make sure their LOA is genuine and legitimate by ensuring that their LOA includes all the recommended information.

Alongside newly mandated provincial attestation letters (PALs), LOAs are a key part of the study permit application process for foreign nationals. This is because LOAs help IRCC “establish [that a student has legitimately received] acceptance to a course or program of study” offered by a DLI.

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During a moment in time when Canada’s international student system is under immense pressure, LOAs are just one of many ways IRCC is working to maintain and reinforce the integrity of its program (more on these strategies below).

What IRCC recommends DLIs include in LOAs provided to international students

According to IRCC’s recent update, the department recommends that the following 17 items be included in the LOA provided by the DLI to an international student.

The full name, date of birth and mailing address of the student
The name of the institution and official contact
The DLI number of the institution
The telephone, fax, website and email information for the institution
The type of school or institution (for example, private or public)
The field or program of study, level and year of study into which the student was accepted
The estimated duration or date of completion of the course
The date on which the selected course of study begins
The last date on which a student may register for a selected course
The academic year of study that the student will be entering
Whether the course or program of study is full-time or part-time
The tuition fee
Scholarships and other financial aid (if applicable)
An expiry date indicating the date until which the LOA is valid
Any conditions related to the acceptance or registration (academic prerequisites, completion of a previous degree, proof of language competence, etc.)
Clear identification of the educational institution and/or licensing information for private institutions (where applicable, normally confirmed through its letterhead)
For study in Quebec, the requirement of a Quebec Acceptance Certificate (CAQ)

Note: The above information is a list of recommendations from IRCC to Canada’s DLIs. The exclusion of any of the above content does not necessarily mean your LOA is fraudulent/invalid.

IRCC’s new LOA verification process

To better protect international students from fraudulent actors, IRCC introduced a new LOA verification process on December 1, 2023.

Since the implementation of this new policy, DLIs across Canada have been under a mandate to manually confirm every LOA they receive with the department. Applicable to all LOAs submitted by international students outside of Canada, DLIs “now have up to 10 calendar days” to verify every LOA through IRCC’s online portal.

It is important to note that “only [the designated] representative(s) [of each DLI] will have access to” this portal.

More details on this verification process are available here.

Improvements to Canada’s international student system integrity

IRCC introduced a policy requiring “most new post-secondary international students at the college or undergraduate level [to] provide a [PAL] from a province or territory with their study permit application,” as of January 22, 2024.

Noting that the department will return any study permit application that is submitted without a PAL, unless an exemption applies, IRCC says that PALs “will serve as proof that the student has been accounted for under a provincial or territorial allocation within the national cap.”

Note: IRCC clarifies that provinces and territories across the country must establish a process for issuing PALs by March 31, 2024.

At the time of publishing, British Columbia is the only province that has released details regarding their PAL issuance process thus far. Check back with CIC News for details on other provinces when they become available.

Other steps Canada has recently taken to address concerns regarding international student program integrity include:

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