Canada continues to be one of the world’s most popular destinations for international students. With an excellent standard of education and internationally accredited schools—Canada hosts a huge number of students from abroad every year—welcoming close to 450,000 new international students in 2021 alone.
While Canada does host many international students annually, there are also those who receive refusals of their study permit applications. Giving careful consideration to the eligibility criteria set by Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), and the discretion of the IRCC immigration officer reviewing their application can be crucial to success when applying.
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Make sure you are eligible
In particular, to receive a study permit, applicants must satisfy the eligibility criteria. This includes applicants showing that they:
- Have been accepted to study at a Designated Learning Institution (DLI); a DLI is an institution that is authorized by a provincial or territorial government to host international students;
- Are a law-abiding citizen, with no criminal record, and not a risk to the security of Canada. A police clearance certificate(s) may be required as well; and
- Are in good health and willing to complete a medical exam if needed.
However, understand that acceptance or refusal of a study permit application is also influenced by the discretion of the reviewing immigration officer.
Discretion of your immigration officer
Giving immigration officers as much assurance as possible that an applicant can satisfy the terms of their stay as a student, can be pivotal to success.
Outside of ineligibility, there are two recurring themes to why applications get refused (though others do exist); involving individuals failing to convince immigration officers that:
- The actual purpose of their visit to Canada is to study—between 2019 and 2021, 77% of study permit refusals were due to IRCC not being satisfied that the purpose of the applicant’s visit was to study; and
- They will leave Canada at the end of their stay—26% of refusals of study permit applications (in the same time period) were due to IRCC not being satisfied that applicants would leave Canada based on their personal assets and financial status.
With this consideration, individuals applying should review whether their applications show as clearly as possible. For example, applicants will likely have a better chance of approval if they:
- Make sure they show a clear, logical progression in studies from previous education to Canadian education being pursued;
- Make sure they can show proof of finances through authorized documentation;
- Ensure they meet the English/French requirements for immigration;
- Explain any long gaps in their studies in their application;
- Make evident their intent to leave Canada after the duration of their studies;
- Ensuring they complete a dual intent application if they have applied for permanent residence (PR) at the same time. Dual intent is when a foreign national who has applied (or may apply) for PR also applies to enter Canada for a temporary period as a visitor, worker, or student; and
- Include any other documentation/information they can within their applications to give confidence to the officer reviewing their study permit.
In addition, applicants can look at streams of study permits that they may be eligible for. For example, the Student Direct Stream is a preferential path to receive a Canadian study permit, for citizens of specific countries. Acceptance rates are generally higher for applications under this stream, due to its higher eligibility criteria; applicants accepted will benefit from expedited processing times.
Next steps if your application has been refused
While receiving a study permit refusal can be frustrating, applicants can still take steps to pursue studying in Canada, and even increase their chances of acceptance when re-applying.
Applicants can take stock of what the reasons for their refusal were (as included in their refusal letter), and adjust their applications accordingly. Unless specifically stated, IRCC does not have an interim period between applications, so applicants can re-apply as soon as they are ready.
Lastly, if (based on the reasons stated in the refusal letter), an applicant suspects that they have been refused wrongly (and that they do meet the eligibility criteria), they may apply for a review of their decision by the Federal Court of Canada.
Discover your options to study in Canada
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