Since the Canadian government introduced the Provincial Attestation Letter (PAL), a common question has become: Do I need a PAL for a postgraduate diploma or certificate course to study in Canada? Postgraduate Diploma or Certificate programs require a minimum Bachelor’s degree to study in Canada. They are Postgraduate programs but not equivalent to Master’s degrees. Most students need a PAL for a Canada study permit, but not everyone does. 

Many public colleges and universities in Canada offer graduate diplomas or certificates in specialized areas of study. These courses specialize in areas where a Master’s degree is not available. Besides, Graduate certificate or diploma courses are comparably cost-effective for many international students. 

In several provinces, such as Nova Scotia, Alberta, Manitoba, Quebec, Saskatchewan, New Brunswick, British Columbia, etc., it has also been called the Post-Baccalaureate Diploma. Ultimately, all Post Graduate diplomas, certificates, or Post-baccalaureate degrees are below a master’s degree. 

Since Canadian immigration adds the PAL requirements for foreign students, it creates confusion among students about whether they need PAL as this is not a degree course but is considered a Postgraduate-level program. 

Let’s understand who requires a provincial attestation letter first.

International students who want to study in Canada must take PAL if they fall in the following categories, according to IRCC

  • Bachelor Degree-seeking students
  • College Diploma students e.g. 1, 2 or 3 years Diploma
  • Post Graduate Certificate (most non-degree granting graduate programs)
  • Postgraduate Diploma (most non-degree granting graduate programs)
  • Post Baccalaureate Diploma (most non-degree granting graduate programs)

Who doesn’t require a PAL to study in Canada?

PAL is not mandatory for all international students studying in Canada. However, you may be exempt from requiring PAL if your application is categorized as below. 

  • Masters Degree Students
  • Ph.D. Students
  • Primary and Secondary Levels students (Schooling Visa)
  • visiting or exchange students
  • in-Canada study permit and work permit holders (includes study permit holders applying for an extension)
  • in-Canada family members of study permit or work permit holders
  • students whose applications we received before 8:30 a.m. ET on January 22, 2024

Postgraduate Diploma/Certificate courses need a PAL for Canada study permit application. 

So, it is obvious that you need to attach your PAL certificate along with your study permit application if you are applying to study for a Postgraduate diploma or Certificate. Whether you are applying to study that Diploma/Certificate course in college or university, you must need an attestation letter from the province you intend to study in Canada. 

How do you apply for a Provincial Attestation Letter?

So far, Alberta, British Columbia, and Quebec have started issuing PALs for international students. Other provinces have yet to declare how to apply for a PAL for a study permit. 

You should keep visiting our websites for regular PAL requirements and processing updates. We will also keep you posted with other province PAL requirements as soon as the provincial government publishes them. 

These new rules can sometimes be complicated to understand when processing temporary residence applications (student visas). Immigration policies change over time as required by the central government in Canada. The introduction of PAL was to tackle the excess immigration level in Canada, and initially, this cap on international student visas was set for two years to observe. It is yet to be confirmed if these CAP on international student numbers and the PAL requirements will continue after 2026 fall. 

The Canadian government planned to reduce the student visa approval rate by 35% based on the 2023 acceptance rate for the next two academic years. These newly added immigration policies directly affect a number of enrolments at DLI-listed Canadian institutions. These changes also significantly affect tighter admission requirements at Master’s degree programs.