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How to increase your chances for study permit approval

Canada remains one of the most popular international student destinations in the world. With an excellent educational system and internationally accredited schools, Canada welcomes a large number of international students each year, with close to 450,000 new international students expected in 2021 alone.

While Canada welcomes many international students each year, there are some who have their study permit applications denied. Giving careful consideration to the eligibility criteria established by Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), as well as the discretion of the IRCC immigration officer reviewing their application, can be critical to application success.

Make sure you are eligible

Applicants must meet the eligibility criteria in order to receive a study permit. Applicants must demonstrate that they:

  • Have been accepted to study at a Designated Learning Institution (DLI); a DLI is an institution authorized by a provincial or territorial government to host international students.
  • Are a law-abiding citizen with no criminal record who poses no threat to Canada’s security. A police clearance certificate(s) may also be required.
  • Are in good health and willing to undergo a medical exam if necessary.

Understand, however, that the decision to accept or deny 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 will be able to fulfil the terms of their student visa can be critical to success.

Aside from ineligibility, there are two recurring themes that explain why applications are denied (though others exist); these involve individuals failing to persuade immigration officers that:

  • Between 2019 and 2021, 77% of study permit refusals were due to IRCC not being satisfied that the applicant’s visit was for the purpose of studying.
  • They will leave Canada at the end of their stay – 26% of study permit refusals (during the same time period) were due to IRCC not being satisfied that applicants would leave Canada based on their personal assets and financial status.

Individuals applying should review their applications to ensure that they are as clear as possible. Applicants, for example, will have a better chance of approval if they:

  • Make certain that they demonstrate a clear, logical progression of studies from previous education to the Canadian education being pursued.
  • Check to see if they can provide financial proof via authorized documentation.
  • Ensure they meet the English/French requirements for immigration.
  • Explain any long gaps in their studies in their application.
  • Make it clear that they intend to leave Canada at the end of their studies.
  • If they have applied for permanent residence at the same time, they must submit a dual intent application. 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, this is known as dual intent.
  • Include any additional documentation/information they can in their applications to reassure the officer reviewing their study permit.

Applicants can also look into different types of study permits that they might be eligible for. The Student Direct Stream, for example, is a preferential path to obtaining a Canadian study permit for citizens of specific countries. Because of the higher eligibility criteria, acceptance rates for applications in this stream are generally higher; applicants who are accepted will benefit from expedited processing times.

Next steps if your application has been refused

While receiving a study permit refusal can be discouraging, applicants can still pursue their studies in Canada and even improve their chances of acceptance when reapplying.

Applicants can review the reasons for their refusal (as stated in their refusal letter) and revise their applications accordingly. Unless otherwise stated, there is no waiting period between applications at IRCC, so applicants can reapply as soon as they are ready.

Finally, if an applicant suspects that they have been wrongfully denied (based on the reasons stated in the refusal letter), they may apply to the Federal Court of Canada for a review of their decision.

Balwinder Kaur
Author: Balwinder Kaur

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