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New LOA Verification Procedure by Announced IRCC for an International Student's Letter of Acceptance

The Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has recently refreshed its advice for what should be included in a Letter of Acceptance (LOA) for international students by Canadian Designated Learning Institutions (DLIs). For students coming to Canada, verifying the authenticity and completeness of their LOA is crucial, especially with the introduction of provincial attestation letters (PALs), which have become a vital component of the study permit application.

LOAs play a crucial role in confirming a student’s genuine acceptance into a program of study at a DLI, a step that is increasingly important as Canada seeks to preserve the integrity of its international student program amidst growing pressures.

Recommended Contents of LOAs for International Students

IRCC suggests that DLIs incorporate the following 17 details in the LOAs they issue:

1. The student’s full name, date of birth, and mailing address
2. The institution’s name and official contact details
3. The institution’s DLI number
4. Contact information for the institution, including telephone, fax, website, and email
5. Type of institution (e.g., private or public)
6. The program or field of study, including the level and year of study the student has been accepted into
7. Estimated duration or completion date of the course
8. Start date of the course
9. Last date for registration
10. The academic year the student will be entering
11. Whether the program is full-time or part-time
12. Tuition fees
13. Available scholarships and financial aid, if any
14. The LOA’s expiry date
15. Any conditions related to acceptance or enrollment
16. Clear identification of the educational institution and/or licensing for private institutions, typically via letterhead
17. For studies in Quebec, the necessity of a Quebec Acceptance Certificate (CAQ)

It’s important to note that missing elements from this list do not automatically render an LOA invalid or fraudulent.

New LOA Verification Procedure by IRCC

To combat fraud and protect international students, IRCC initiated a new LOA verification process as of December 1, 2023. This procedure requires DLIs to confirm each LOA with the department manually, within a 10-day period, through an exclusive online portal accessible only to designated representatives of each DLI.

Strengthening the Integrity of Canada’s International Student Program

As part of efforts to maintain the program’s integrity, from January 22, 2024, IRCC mandated that post-secondary international students at the college or undergraduate level must include a PAL from the issuing province or territory with their study permit application. PALs are intended to confirm the student’s inclusion in a provincial or territorial quota under the national cap for study permits.

Provinces and territories are expected to have established their PAL issuing processes by March 31, 2024. To date, British Columbia is the sole province that has detailed its PAL process.

Other recent measures to enhance program integrity include capping study permit applications for the next two years, raising the financial requirement for international students’ cost of living, developing a Trusted Institutions Framework, and revising the eligibility criteria for the Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) and Open Work Permit (OWP) programs, including updates that affect eligibility for certain students while expanding access for others.

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