Your student visa application was refused. What is next?

Posted on 26/04/2016

From time to time, I have clients coming to me, frustrated, complaining that their student visa or study permit application was refused for reasons they do not understand. They followed the guidelines published on the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) website, they provided all the documents as listed on IRCC’s document checklist, and they answered all the questions truthfully on the application forms. But they eventually received a refusal letter stating that the officer was “not satisfied client will return at the end of his or her authorized stay”.

There are limited options to deal with a refused student visa or study permit application. You can , request the visa office for re- consideration, or submit a second application or, if all else fails you can apply to the Federal Court of Canada for leave and judicial review. It is a lengthy and costly process going to Federal Court for a study permit refusal, so the majority of applicants choose not to go down that path. Re-consideration typically won’t be given unless there is an apparent error in law or in fact made on the application. So it is common practice that most applicants send in a second application to the visa office hoping for a different decision.

On the surface, applying for a student visa or study permit seems like a fairly straightforward process. the criteria for approval and refusal are clearly outlined on IRCC’s website. Only a few application forms are needed. Not many documents are required. However, there is more that needs to be taken into the consideration beneath the surface of things.

First of all, do not submit your second application with the same information as you provided on the first application, secretly hoping that a different officer will give you favorable consideration. New information and greater details needs to be provided in order to stand a greater chance of success.

Since the most common refusal reason is that the applicant will not return to their home country at the end of their authorized stay, you should address fully in your application what will attract you to go home after you finish your studies in Canada. Remember, a student visa or a study permit application is first and foremost a type of temporary resident visa application. Your stay in Canada is temporary; you will be allowed to study during your temporary stay but you are expected to leave the country at the end of your studies.

The second common concern is whether or not the applicant has sufficient funds to support themselves while they are in Canada. What is considered sufficient funds depends upon the program of study and the length of time you will stay in Canada. The funds should be more than enough to cover both tuition and living cost. What is more important is that you should provide clear documentation as to the source of funds that is verifiable and ongoing.

There are frequently “hidden” factors you should pay attention to as well, especially common forms of misrepresentation and the notoriety of documents from certain areas. You should go the extra mile to confirm the legitimacy of the documents you provide. The case of Jonathan Nicola, a 29-year-old from South Sudan, who posed as a 17-year-old basketball player in a Windsor high school, is being much talked about in the news now. His case is an example of someone who luckily fell through the cracks of IRCC’s visa screening system. In reality, documentation, including ID documents, are extremely difficult to verify in some countries, especially in war torn areas. This typically leads to the delay and refusal of applications, rather than what happened to Nicola. He is the exception that proves the rule: when in doubt, the IRCC officer will reject an application if they are unsure of the authenticity of the documents.

Another important factor to keep in mind is that visa officers process dozens of temporary resident visa applications per day. If your paper application is not well prepared, which is often the case, it could easily result in a refusal. You should seek an experienced professional to help you. No one can guarantee that they will have your application approved, but an experienced lawyer or consultant can greatly increase your chance of success.

If you need help with you study visa contact Mary Zhang at

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