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International students hoping to study in Nova Scotia province in Canada this year may face a stricter application process. Nova Scotia Limits Study Permit for the 2024-2025 academic year, a significant decrease from previous years. This move comes amid national efforts to address housing shortages believed to be partly fueled by the surge in international student enrollment.

The new cap represents a roughly 36% reduction compared to 2023. For 2024, the federal government has given Nova Scotia 12,900 study permits. Approximately 7,000 fewer than the number of permits the province issued to international students in 2023. 

The province will allocate the study permits among 32 designated learning institutions (DLIs), which are post-secondary institutions in Canada permitted to accept international students. According to IRCC, Nova Scotia officially has 41 DLIs.

Permits will be issued as follows

  • 11,565 to ten (10) universities and Nova Scotia Community College
  • 710 to a dozen private career colleges
  • 526 to nine language schools.

The province says it will also hold back 99 application spaces for the flexibility to accommodate unexpected circumstances.

Nova Scotia Limits Study Permit for 2024-2025. The Province’s Advanced Education Minister, Brian Wong, explained the decision. He highlighted a desire for a more manageable student intake and a chance for institutions to ensure they have the resources to support this population. 

This provincial cap reflects a broader national trend. On January 22, 2024the Honourable Marc Miller, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, announced that the Government of Canada set an intake cap on international student permit applications to stabilize new growth for two years. For 2024, the cap will result in approximately 360,000 approved study permits, a decrease of 35% from 2023. Nova Scotia’s allocation is part of this effort.

The number of study permits aligns with the number of Provincial Attestation Letters (PALs) a province can issue. It is up to the provinces to decide how to issue them to study permit applicants who have obtained a letter of acceptance from a DLI.

Exceptions to the cap on study permit

  • Masters and PhD students: The application limit does not apply to international students pursuing postgraduate degrees.
  • Current study permit holders: Students already enrolled in Canada.
  • Study permit renewals: Existing international students can renew without the cap limit.

New Application Requirement

  • Provincial Attestation Letter (PAL): All new international student applicants must now include a PAL in their study permit applications. This letter verifies acceptance by a designated learning institution in Nova Scotia.

Nova Scotia study permit allocation compared to other provinces

Ontario and British Columbia revealed how they intend to distribute their allocation of PALs earlier this month.

96% of Ontario’s Study Permits will go to Public Schools: All You Need to Know. The remaining 4% will be distributed between language schools, private universities and other institutions across the province. The province has not announced how many PALs the federal government has allocated.

On the other hand, British Columbia (the province with the second most Designated Learning Institutions (DLIs) after Ontario) split its allocation roughly evenly between public post-secondary institutions (53%) and private institutions (47%). British Columbia’s Ministry of Post-Secondary Education and Future Skills will allocate 83,000 undergraduate study permit applications for 2024.


In conclusion, international students hoping to study in Nova Scotia in Canada for the 2024-2025 academic year may face competition due to a cap of 12,900 study permit applications. The cap applies to undergraduate and some postgraduate students, however, Masters and PhD students are exempt. All new applicants will need a Provincial Attestation Letter (PAL) to verify acceptance by a designated learning institution. Moreover, this new policy reflects broader national efforts to manage international student intake and ensure institutions have adequate resources to support them.

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