How can my Study Permit Go Wrong?

There are currently 353,000 international students enrolled and studying in Canadian universities. Study Permits are one of the more common ways of immigrating to Canada. Along with an education, come job security and a pathway to citizenship.

But it can all go wrong and study permits can be refused. Here are a couple of ways study permits can be refused.

  1. Non-bonafide student: Students must have some sort of plan for their studies. If they don’t seem to show their study plan is viable then its unlikely the visa officer will be convinced the students have a real desire to study.
  2. Failure to demonstrate ability to leave Canada: Although Canada does offer international students a direct route to become a Canadian citizen, there is no guarantee the international student will complete their studies or be successful. So international students are here in Canada only temporarily and like all other temporary visitors, they must convince visa officers they will return to their home country. Failure to show a plan for return and ties to their home country can result in a refusal.
  3. Incomplete/Inauthentic documents: If documentation disclosed to the visa officer is incomplete or contains unusual mistakes, that can raise suspicion. Misrepresentation is an automatic refusal and a bar from applying for a five years and it can include omitting or hiding relevant and pertinent information.
  4. Financial issues: If its clear the international student can’t provide funding for first year of studies and onwards, then it is hard to believe they will continue very far.
  5. Poor grades: It might be the course you are enrolled in is not a perfect fit and failing classes has complicated your situation. The study plan you are currently on may have to be modified and reassessed or else you would not be able to move on to the next year of study.
  6. Gaps in study: Continuous full-time study is a requirement. So extended breaks between study sessions is a red flag for visa officers to refuse permits.
  7. Fraud: As more international students come to Canada, the number of fraudulent schemes has also increased. Their are penalties of being caught – including imprisonment up to five years and fines up to $100,000. IRCC has become more and more alert as to red flags and has more resources to sniff out fraudulent activity.

Keep in mind for refusals, no right to appeal exists for international students. The only route is seeking reconsideration or judicial review where a judge determines if the decision of the visa officer is reasonable, and if not, then it will be sent back to be reconsidered by a visa officer again.

What are my goals as an international student?

Canada requires international students to be “actively pursuing studies” during the life of the study permit. The priority is studies before all else. Work is permitted during study semesters for 20 hours and when the semester is off on break, then full time work is permitted. If someone came to Canada as a student but there is no indication they are attending their classes, it only becomes harder for that student to convince visa officers of their overall genuineness.

Canada has placed a premium on only offering the best post-secondary education to the world so only certain institutions are designated for hosting and international students. When enrolling it is best to confirm the institution you are enrolling in is a DLI (“designated learning institution“). To learn more about Designated Learning Institutions see here.

In choosing a course of study, find the institution that has the best professors and curriculum. Avoid distance learning courses. Look for accreditations, licenses, and job markets. Just because a course is offered doesn’t guarantee their is a job at the end of that study. Have a long-term plan in mind as to how this education will help you. What will you do with this degree? What is the next step? What are job opportunities with this degree? Does it provide the credentials needed to get hired in a suitable job? Or is something more needed? It is easy to be naive and expect jobs to appear right, but a degree is just one tool in the financial pathway to success.

Have a budget in mind as tuition for international students is quite expensive. Why is education more costly for international students as compared to local students? Few justifications have been offered: it is good for the economy, international students don’t pay taxes (although they do on purchases), but the main argument seems to be the business argument for universities. Many towns in Canada would be empty if not for the presence of a university, and its international student enrolment.

Being a student is a challenge in itself. But being an international student can be tricky as their is little allowance for extended absences (i.e. sick leaves or gaps in programs). Their are requirements to renew your study permit and ensure you have a visa for re-entry to Canada.

Canada is not suitable to everyone. Some international students can’t find jobs and are constantly homesick. Many of the international students I met in university went back to their home countries, only a few stayed. But for those who want to stay in Canada, it is best to talk to an immigration lawyer as to next steps. Their are a variety of immigration programs offered that provide a route to citizenship.

Omer Khayyam is an Immigration Lawyer in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan and is licensed by the Law Society of Saskatchewan and the Law Society of Ontario (formerly called Law Society of Upper Canada). Omer can assist you with your immigration matter with reasonable rates and timely service.

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