While Canada has a nationwide cap on student visas, the processing and approval specifically depend on provincial quotas. Here’s what you need to know about the Nova Scotia situation:

  • Nationwide Cap: Canada has imposed a cap of approximately 292,000 study permits for 2024, aiming to manage application volume.
  • Nova Scotia’s Allocation: The province of Nova Scotia received a quota of 12,900 applications for the 2024-25 academic year. This means all designated learning institutions (DLIs) in N.S., including universities, colleges, and language schools, will compete for this limited number of approvals.

The total number of study permits Canada will approve in 2024 is approximately 292,000, a 35% reduction from the number issued in 2023.

Nova Scotia’s share of this cap is 12,900 applications. All designated learning institutions in the province, including universities, community colleges, private career colleges, and language schools, are to share this number. Alberta, British Columbia and Quebec have already started issuing PALs to international students. 

Canada Student Visa cap reduced from 360,000 to 292,000

From the first maximum of 360,000 declared in January, the Canadian government has lowered the number of new international study permits allotted this year to about 292,000.

According to The Globe and Mail, the minister emphasized that the original quota included graduate students or K–12 pupils. This means about 292,000 new permits are available for undergraduate programmes if Gradaute and K-12 students are removed from the cap limit. 

Important points to remember:

  • Competition: With fewer application slots available, the competition for securing a student visa in Nova Scotia can be high.
  • Processing Delays: Due to the cap, there’s a chance of experiencing delays in application processing.


  • Early Application: Applying well in advance, especially if you have a strong academic profile and meet all requirements, can increase your chances. Limited PAL may only allow you to apply if you meet all requirements. 
  • Stay Updated: Monitor the official IRCC website for the latest information on processing times and any changes related to the cap. Stay tuned to the Provincial Attestation Letter website for regular updates about admission and student visa caps. 
  • Consult Your Chosen Institution: NS educational institutions might have additional information or guidance regarding the application process in light of the quota.

Nova Scotia student visa CAP expectations

Many assumed Nova Scotia and PEI may be affected by the CAP allocation and the size of the economy. Some estimated 9,000 PAL allocation based on their contribution of 2.5% to the national population. Given the circumstances, an allocation of 12,900 PALs is a significantly good number for the province. In October 2023, the Association of Atlantic Universities released a study stating that over 14,500 overseas students were enrolled in Nova Scotia. Six universities in Halifax hosted 6,700 international students, most of whom were enrolled at Dalhousie (4,175) and Saint Mary’s (1,639). Between 20 and 25 percent of Dal and SMU students are foreign.

From October 2022 to October 2023, a total of 14,567 student visas were approved in N.S. province. If 12,900 are allocated without the Graduate and Ph.D. students, we can easily assume the visa approval number will undoubtedly rise in 2024. As we all know, the cap is on undergraduate-level degrees and diplomas only, not on Master’s or Ph.D. Degrees.

It is important to note that the cap applies to the number of applications that are processed, not the number of visas that are ultimately approved. This means that even if you submit an application before the cap is reached, there is no guarantee that your visa will be approved.

Remember, this information reflects the current situation (as of March 13, 2024). The quota (cap) system is temporary, and future updates or adjustments might occur. Staying informed through reliable sources like the IRCC website is crucial.