Preparing a study permit application is not as easy and simple as you may think. From January 2016, to October 2021, 500,000+ first time applicants were refused.
Unlike the American immigration system which conducts interviews, the Canadian system is paper-based with no interviews. This means your application needs to be robust and well-organized with documentary evidence and submissions. Immigration officers will rely solely on what you provided in your application to determine if you meet the criteria for a study permit.
There are a variety of factors involved when officers review an application. Because many student applicants do not fully understand the process and what is expected to succeed, they apply on their own and are refused.
Once you have a refusal on record, your chances of approval drastically reduce on subsequent re-applications. In the last 5 years, the approval rate for repeat applicants was 58%.
There are two main options to consider after being refused
After a refusal, you should always to speak to an immigration professional before deciding how to proceed.
The first step is to understand why you were refused. The reasons stated in your refusal letter are NOT the actual reasons. You have to request the GCMS notes to obtain the officer's personal notes. Here is a sample of GCMS notes.
Examine the officer's notes in GCMS to determine the areas of weakness in your application.
Make sure your new application addresses the officer's notes from the previous refusal. Ideally, you should seek help from an immigration lawyer, who can prepare a legal submission letter to further strengthen your application.
Your reapplication should be as strong as possible. Even if you are refused again, a strong application is necessary to appeal via Judicial Review. The stronger the application, the better your chances at succeeding in Judicial Review.
Should I reapply again on my own?
Most clients contact our law firm after one or more refusals, since the statistics are clear that your chances drastically decrease after each refusal. From experience, we found that immigration officers are likely to refuse a reapplication that has similar information and documentation.
It's critical to address the reasons for refusals with strong & convincing arguments, and include additional documentation to make the application as strong as possible.
How can an Immigration Lawyer help?
Immigration lawyers understand what officers are looking for and can help you carefully craft your application to cover all critical focal points that will be assessed. Given the uncertainty and unpredictability of Canada's immigration system, more and more individuals are seeking help from professionals to navigate the system. In most, of not all cases, it's in everyone's best interest to trust a qualified professional.
A lawyer will also prepare a 4-5 page legal submission letter. A legal submission letter presents all relevant facts & legal arguments to convince the officer that you satisfy the eligibility requirements and deserve to be approved a study permit.
When an application is prepared by a lawyer, immigration officers will know and take it seriously. They see the application was submitted through a law firm's Representative Portal with the lawyer's legal submission letter and Use of Rep form. Officers respect that lawyers understand immigration laws and the procedures officers must follow when they review an application.
If you submitted a strong application and believe you were refused unfairly, you can challenge your refusal via an appeal process called Judicial Review. This process allows you to argue to the Federal Court of Canada that the visa officer did not review your application correctly.
The focus of Judicial Reviews for study permit refusals generally surround the issue of whether the Officer's decision was "reasonable". Canadian law requires officers to provide reasons that are justified, transparent and intelligible.
Given the shortcomings of IRCC's use of AI software such as Chinook, there have been a significant number of applications that have succumb to faulty processing, leading to the wrong outcome. Students have submitted strong & complete applications, only to be improperly refused because of a software glitch. It's been controversial in the Canadian immigration world. Many immigration lawyers and consultants are strongly voicing their concerns about the dreadful effects of software reliance with visa applications.
What happens if my appeal is successful?
If you are successful, your refusal will be cancelled and your application will be re-opened and reviewed by a different officer - this is called re-determination. Your chances of approval are much higher during re-determination.
There are two ways for you to succeed in Judicial Review:
Early resolution / settlement with IRCC lawyer;
Final judgement from Federal Judge.
At VITTI IMMIGRATION LAW, we proactively fight for an early resolution in order to resolve the appeal as quickly as possible.
What are the steps involved in the Judicial Review process?
Start the Judicial Review process before your deadline
You have 60 days to start to the Judicial Review process for applications made outside Canada. You have 15 days to start to the Judicial Review process for applications made inside Canada.
Once the process is started, the Court will automatically order the GCMS notes from the visa office - they are called Rule 9 notes.
Prepare Application Record
After receiving the Rule 9 officer notes, you have 30 days to prepare the Application Record.
The Application Record presents detailed and technical legal arguments to the Federal Judge as to why the officer did not assess your application properly.
Wait for IRCC to submit their reply
After you submit the Application Record, the lawyer for IRCC will have 30 days to prepare and submit a written response - this is called the Respondent's Memorandum.
Prepare reply, if necessary
Upon receipt of the Respondent's Memorandum, you have 10 days to submit your reply to their arguments, if necessary.
Wait for Judge to review and make a decision
After arguments from both sides are submitted, a judge will review everything from both sides.
This process generally takes 6-8 months, but varies depending on how busy the court is.
If the judge finds that the visa officer made an error, then the judge will grant leave (leave = permission) to proceed to an oral hearing. In 95% of cases, when leave is granted, IRCC will settle and not waste the court's time.
If the judge finds that the officer did not make an error, then the judge will dismiss your application and the appeal is over.
About Vitti Immigration
The majority of Paul's professional career has been dedicated to the practice of immigration law. After law school, Paul articled at a criminal defense firm and practiced as an employment lawyer, representing employees with workplace issues such as human rights violations and wrongful termination. Paul then found immigration law and has since practiced with renowned firms in the Toronto area.
Paul is experienced with helping clients in a spousal sponsorships.
Here is what to expect when working with Paul:
Full Transparency and client involvement
Building high-quality client relationships
Smooth and efficient process
Work done by experience lawyer