If you have submitted a study permit application to Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), you are entitled to see the detailed notes of the immigration officer who refused the application.
The refusal letter that provides the reasons for refusal of the study permit usually contains reasons which are vague and unclear, especially depending on what documentation was submitted with the application. Frequently, applications are refused for reasons which appear to have no relevance to the applicant’s personal situation.
When making the decision to approve or refuse any application, officers are required to state their reasons for doing so. You can apply for the GCMS notes for the application which includes the reasons the officer has refused the application.
You can also apply for the notes for an application which is still in process, including if it has gone beyond the official processing time.
Study Permit / Study Visa – Refusal Notes
Nearly all refusals for Canadian study permit applications are based in section 216 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations:
216 (1) Subject to subsections (2) and (3), an officer shall issue a study permit to a foreign national if, following an examination, it is established that the foreign national
(a) applied for it in accordance with this Part;
(b) will leave Canada by the end of the period authorized for their stay under Division 2 of Part 9;
(c) meets the requirements of this Part;
(d) meets the requirements of subsections 30(2) and (3), if they must submit to a medical examination under paragraph 16(2)(b) of the Act; and
(e) has been accepted to undertake a program of study at a designated learning institution
Refusal Based on Purpose of Your Visit
- I am not satisfied that you will leave Canada at the end of your stay, as stipulated in subsection 216(1) of the IRPR, based on the purpose of your visit.
The purpose of your visit is to study, so this is a coded message that the officer does not believe the purpose of your study is genuine. Sometimes refusal letters will also say outright that the officer does not believe the applicant is a genuine student. However, many times officers will rely on this phrase to give a more general reason for refusal especially if the purpose of the study was not discussed in the application.
A study permit refusal based on “purpose of your visit” is very frequently related to the statement of purpose (also known as study plan or SOP). If the study plan was vague and general, this is a almost always going to lead to a refusal.
If “the purpose of your visit” is the only reason for refusal, there is a good chance that the officer believes the applicant is attempting to “enter the labour market in Canada,” meaning to work illegally, or that the applicant is not being honest about their reason for coming to Canada.
Refusal Based on Your Personal Assets and Financial Status
- I am not satisfied that you will leave Canada at the end of your stay, as stipulated in subsection 216(1) of the IRPR, based on your personal assets and financial status.
Demonstrating ample financial ability to pay for your studies in Canada is one of the most important parts of the study permit application. If the applicant did not submit enough documentation, or did not submit enough information explaining where the finances have come from, the application is almost certainly going to be refused. IRCC wants to make sure that students have enough money to come to Canada to study without working, even if they have the ability to work while they are here, as well as to get back home when their studies are over. This reason for refusal can be overcome with better explanation of the source of the funds, as well as improvement of the documentation of the source of the funds.
Refusal Based on Qualifications, Previous Studies, Missing Mark Sheets, Academic Record, Level of Establishment, Language Abilities
- Your proposed studies are not reasonable in light of: your qualifications, previous studies, missing mark sheets, academic record, level of establishment, language abilities, financial ability, and/or your future prospects and plans.
If you have submitted documentation with your study permit application such as:
- report cards
- marks sheets
- language test results (such as IELTS or CELPIP)
This can work in your favour. However, if your marks at your previous school or educational program were average or below average, they can be used as grounds for refusal of your study permit application even if you ultimately passed the program and achieved the educational credential you were striving for, such as a bachelor’s degree. If you did not submit these items at all, this can also negatively impact your application.
You don’t have to be a straight-A student to be granted a study permit to Canada, however poor marks or poor language test scores can make an immigration officer believe that you are not likely to succeed in the program in Canada which defeats the purpose of approving your study permit, as it increases the chances that you would contravene the conditions of your entry to Canada.
Refusal Based on Family Ties
- I am not satisfied that you will leave Canada at the end of your stay, as stipulated in subsection 216(1) of the IRPR, based on your family ties in Canada and in your country of residence.
“Family ties in Canada and country of residence” are a very common reason for refusal for study permit and visa applications. If you are applying for temporary residence in Canada, such as a study permit or a visa, the officer has to be satisfied that you will leave Canada before your study permit or visa expires. If you have family members who already live in Canada, immigration officers believe that you may be less likely to leave when you are supposed to because you want to remain with your family. If you don’t have any family members in your country of residence, immigration will use the same reasoning against you – you are more likely not to return to your country of residence at the end of your stay because you lack family ties there.
Sometimes “family ties in Canada and country of residence” is completely irrelevant to the application, as the applicant has no family members in Canada at all or all of their family members are in their home country. Even in these situations, it still appears as a reason for refusal on the refusal letter even though it doesn’t make sense.
Refusal Based on Current Employment Situation
- I am not satisfied that you will leave Canada at the end of your stay, as stipulated in subsection 216(1) of the IRPR, based on your current employment situation
“Current Employment Situation” can seem like a counter-intuitive reason to refuse a study permit application. This reason for refusal comes up usually when the applicant is a “mature student”, which is a student who is at least a few years past from the traditional age for someone to be in school and applies to anyone who is going back to school after having been out of school for some time. If you have been out of school for more than a year, then immigration officers expect that you would realistically be working at the time you submit your application. If you aren’t working when you apply for your study permit, then this can be used as grounds for a refusal of the application.
For students who are going from one educational program into another straightaway, this is not usually a reason for refusal as it would be unusual for a full-time student to also be working full-time.
Refusal Based on Travel History
- I am not satisfied that you will leave Canada at the end of your stay, as stipulated in subsection 216(1) of the IRPR, based on your travel history
“Travel History” is another reason for refusal which can sometimes seem vague. When an applicant has never left their country of residence before, this can be used as a ground for refusal of their study permit or visa application as the immigration officer believes a person who has never traveled before is less likely to leave Canada at the end of their authorized stay.
If an applicant has previously overstayed on a visa in Canada or even another country, this can also be used as a reason for refusal based on travel history.
Refusal Based on Financial Resources Without Working in Canada
- I am not satisfied that you will leave Canada at the end of your stay, as stipulated in subsection 216(1) of the IRPR, because I do not believe you have sufficient and available financial resources, without working in Canada, to maintain yourself and any family members who are accompanying you for your period of study
As stated above, financial reasons are among the most common grounds for refusal of a study permit or visa application. All applicants for temporary status in Canada have to show proof that they are able to support themselves financially while they are in Canada. International students in Canada who are studying at the post-secondary level (college, university, post graduate, etc.) and who have a study permit are allowed to work part time. However, the money that a student can earn working while studying does not count toward their ability to finance their studies in Canada.
Applicants for a study permit or visa need to show that they have liquid funds which are accessible to them throughout their studies, as well as showing they meet the actual financial requirements for study in Canada. The source of the funds also needs to be disclosed as part of the application.
Refusal Based on Immigration Status in Country of Residence
- I am not satisfied that you will leave Canada at the end of your stay, as stipulated in subsection 216(1) of the IRPR, based on your immigration status in your country of residence
If you are submitting an application to come to Canada for any reason, you must have permission to be in the country where you are living when you submit the application. If an applicant submits an application from a country other than their country of nationality, they need to submit proof that they are legally able to do so. If proof of the applicant’s legal residence in the foreign country is not included with the application, this will be a reason for refusal of the application.