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Study visa refused
In 2021 Immigration Refugee & Citizen Canada (IRCC) received 555,714 applications for new study visas from 212 different countries. Based on data from the Report of the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration, May 2022, the overall refusal rate for Canadian study permits was around 40%. However, in certain jurisdictions, such as countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, the refusal rate approached 80% in 2021.  
 
For any applicant, a refusal letter from IRCC can be personally devastating news. Prospective students have invested time and money into gaining acceptance at a Canadian university or college only to find out that they can not enter Canada to fulfill their academic goals. Most students will simply abandon both their application and dreams of higher education in Canada. However, Beaver Immigration offers five (5) points on how to deal with a study visa refusal.  
 

1. Don’t panic

When students receive a refusal letter their first instinct may be to abandon their dreams as there is the perception that all hope is lost. However, a student applicant needs to be mindful of two (2) things. First, all hope is not lost as there are ways to remedy a visa refusal. Second, rejections can occur for several reasons that really don’t have anything to do with the merit of the file.

Sometimes human error can occur when a valid application was inadvertently refused. In other instances, an application may have been refused using artificial intelligence screening applications that some high-volume offices rely on. For example, the system may not recognize the submission of a mandatory document, when that document was uploaded. With hundreds of thousands of applications submitted every year, mistakes will occur.  

2. Order the GCMS notes
The first port of call after a visa refusal – for any visa – is to request to see the visa officer’s written notes on the file. These notes are typically about 150 to 200 words long that articulate the officer’s exact reasoning for the refusal. 
The case notes are part of the applicant’s entire file that is processed through the government’s Global Case Management System (GCMS) that tracks the file as it is processed through the system. In order to receive a copy of the GCMS notes an Access to Information and Privacy or “ATIP” must be filed and submitted to the government. An ATIP is a one-page document – signed by the applicant – that is filed electronically at a cost of CAD $5.00. 
 
3. Re-consideration letter
One little-known solution to have the rejection decision overturned is to write IRCC a letter or “Re-consideration letter” asking the visa officer to have a second look at the file. A re-consideration letter should address all of IRCC’s concerns with the original application. It should be used to amplify certain points as opposed to introducing new facts. This is why obtaining a copy of the GCMS notes is very important. It allows an applicant to address specific points or areas of concern with the file. 
 
For example, it may have not been clear to the officer where the source of funds to pay for study are to be sourced. In this case, a letter could be sent explaining that a sponsor or parent would be the one supporting the student. Or, in cases of an older applicant, the visa officer may not be clear as to why the applicant has chosen a particular course. In this case, a career path needs to be articulated to IRCC that clearly articulates the student’s rationale. Sometimes it clearly needs to be stated that the applicant wants to recast themselves into industry through a career change. 
 
4. Re-apply with a new application 
While re-consideration letters should always be considered, it should be noted that they are not of an official mechanism to remedy a refusal. In other words, there is nothing in the Canadian immigration rules that reference this approach. Therefore, IRCC is not obligated to respond to a reconsideration letter. 
 
Beaver Immigration always recommends submitting a new study permit application to IRCC. There are several reasons for this, but the most obvious is that IRCC is obligated to review the new application. Moreover, it is often the case in the previous application that forms were not filled out correctly, important documents were omitted and the applicant’s intentions were not made clear. In these instances, the visa officer was fully justified in rejecting the application. There is nothing to have reconsidered or “appealed.” 
 
5. Apply for a Judicial Review in Canadian Federal Court
It is a common misconception that there is an official appeals process or body when it comes to the refusal of temporary visas to Canada, such as, study permits, visitor visas or work permits. The only official remedy to “appeal” an unfavorable decision is to make an application to the courts to have a judge review the application and determine if the visa officer’s decision was “fair, reasonable and lawful.”
 
Generally speaking, a Canadian judge can not overturn a decision, but rather if they find due process was not followed – that led to an unfair decision – they will order the applicant’s file sent to another visa officer at IRCC for determination. It is important to note, that the courts can only look at evidence associated with the original application, new evidence can not be submitted to the courts as they will review the application in it’s original form to IRCC. Finally, applicants should be aware that if an application for a study permit is made from outside Canada, the applicant only has 60 days to file for an application for a “leave” of the decision. 
 
 
If you are refused a study visa for Canada it does not necessarily mean it is the end of the road.  A good Canadian immigration consultant will first look at the overall application, get all the facts to the case and develop a strategy to produce a favorable outcome.