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My Immigration Application Was Refused...

When you submit an immigration application, there are two outcomes possible. Your application will either be accepted or refused. If your application was accepted, congratulations! However, if your application was refused, you might be wondering why. There are a variety of reasons that you can be refused, and some reasons pertain to the type of application you submitted. Today, we will be discussing the possible reasons as to why your application was refused for certain programs in this blog and how you can avoid a refusal on your application.

Temporary Resident Refusals 

First, we will address possible reasons for a refusal of your temporary resident visa. An application for a temporary resident visa, or TRV, would be for individuals applying to come to Canada as a visitor, worker, or student. Refusal for a temporary resident visa can happen on two occasions. One occasion is after reviewing the written application with no in-person interview being conducted with the applicant, and the other is at the end of an interview with the applicant.

Your application can be refused for a range of reasons. If you fail to meet the obligations of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) or the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (IRPR), you will be refused. Some of the obligations that need to be met can be found under s. 20(1)(b) of IRPA. This section states that someone who wants to enter Canada to become a temporary resident must prove that they hold a temporary resident visa or another document as required by the IRPR and will leave Canada by the end of the period authorized for their stay. If the officer reviewing your application is not satisfied that you will leave at the end of the period authorized for your stay, they can refuse your application. Other obligations that are particular to a temporary resident can be found in section 11 of IRPA, and subsection 179 of IRPR.

Other reasons for refusal are if you are inadmissible for any reasons found in sections 34 to 42 of IRPA. These include security, human or international rights violations, criminality, organized crime, health reasons, financial reasons, misrepresentation, non-compliance with IRPA, and an inadmissible family member. We will briefly discuss some of the reasons for inadmissibility.

There are also refusals based on health reasons are related to medical inadmissibility. There are three reasons that you can be found to be medically inadmissible to Canada; if you are believed to be a danger to public health; you are believed to be a danger to public safety; or your medical issues will be an excessive demand on health or social services.

A danger to public health is based on whether or not you have certain infectious diseases or you have been in close contact with people that have an infectious disease. As for danger to public safety, they will consider the risk of your sudden incapacity or unpredictable or violent behaviour.

Lastly, an excessive demand on health or social services means that they believe your condition would negatively impact wait times for services, or the services needed to treat and manage your condition would cost more than the excessive demand threshold. After examining the results of your medical exam, they will be able to see if you have any health conditions that could make you medically inadmissible.

Inadmissibility due to financial reasons means that you are or will be unable to support yourself or any other person who is dependent on you, and you have not satisfactorily proven to an officer that you are prepared to care or support them. We have covered misrepresentation before in a previous article, but to summarize, it is when someone lies or sends false documents to the IRCC. It is important to remember that misrepresentation does not have to be intentional, and that misrepresentation is not limited to when you actively do something. It includes withholding information from IRCC as well. For example, if you have a previous refusal with IRCC and did not mention this on a subsequent application, it could lead to a refusal or worse.

Study Permit Refusals

Next, we will be discussing reasons for a refusal of a study permit. Although a study permit is included within the temporary resident category, we do see many international students applying to study in Canada, so we thought it would be best to address this category separately. A refusal on your application can happen if you did not show that you have enough money to support yourself while studying in Canada. This can raise flags, as a study permit is generally required if you plan to study for 6 months or more in Canada. Spending 6 months or more in another country would require sufficient funds, and an inability to show that you have enough money can lead to questions about how you would support yourself during your study.

Another reason is failing to pass your medical exam if you needed to get one. This relates to inadmissibility based on health reasons, which we discussed earlier. You could also be refused for failing to convince the visa officer that your main purpose in Canada is to study. As the name suggests, a study permit is issued to international students who are studying in Canada, and not for other purposes. Lastly, your application can be refused because you failed to convince the visa officer that you will leave Canada at the end of your study period. This reason is related to an obligation placed on temporary residents, specifically s. 20(1)(b) of IRPA. You must prove that you will leave Canada at the end of the period authorized for your stay.

Express Entry Refusals

Through Express Entry, workers from outside of Canada can apply to become a permanent resident. There are two stages for Express Entry: the first stage is creating an Express Entry profile, and the second stage is receiving an invitation to apply for permanent residency. At either one of these stages, your application can be refused, with the first stage being that you will not be accepted into the system as you don’t qualify for a program, so that is pretty straightforward.

If you are not truthful in your profile or your permanent residency application, your application may be refused, you may be found inadmissible, and you may be barred from applying to come to Canada for five years. This is related to misrepresentation, which we addressed earlier. A decision is made on your application based on your eligibility for the specific program in Express Entry, and whether or not you are admissible to Canada. Your admissibility to Canada is based on the results of your medical exam, police certificates, and background checks.

A refusal under Express Entry or any application for that matter can take on many forms, but really when you are looking at a refusal under a Permanent residence category, it generally boils down to the fact that you did not meet the requirements of the program.

What Should I Do Now?

If your application is refused, you can either re-apply for your program, ask for a reconsideration of the refusal, and/or file an appeal based on the refusal letter and the officer’s reasoning. Before re-applying or appealing the refusal decision, you should do a deeper dive into the reasons why your application was refused. This is necessary when re-applying so you do not make the same mistakes again. This is also necessary when appealing the officer’s decision so you have a good basis to appeal and it is likely the judicial review will be approved.

When an application is refused, IRCC will send a standard refusal letter. This letter takes a general format and likely does not go into the detailed reasons about why you were refused. The letter will state general concerns with the application. For example, the officer does not believe the temporary worker will leave Canada after their visa. The letter does not state why the officer believes this, just that they do. It is important to know the reasons for refusal when re-applying. If the officer believes you will not return home after your visa expires because you have property in Canada, you can submit more supporting documents or better reasons as to why you will leave, such as that you are selling your property. If you are able to submit further information with your application, you should do so in your next application. If you do not change much from your first application, you are likely to get a second refusal.

In terms of appealing to the Federal Court of Canada, you have the right to appeal the officer’s decision. It can be costly to file an application to Federal Court and it is only recommended to do so if the officer unreasonably refused your application or made an error of the law. The Federal Court will approve or deny your request for a judicial review and if approved, will require the IRCC to continue with your file. Accessing the officer’s detailed refusal notes is also necessary when filing an appeal so you have a solid basis on which the appeal is submitted, and this should be done by an individual who is well versed in dealing with refusals.

So, how do you obtain the officer’s detailed refusal? Well, you can apply for the officer’s notes through an Access to Information and Privacy Request, or an ATIP. The IRCC is obligated to provide this information within 30 days of the request. The ATIP will include all of the officer’s notes and reasoning for refusing your application. You can use these notes to improve your application for re-submission.

How to Avoid Refusals

Now that we know about the reasons we can be refused, how can we avoid it next time? Here are some tips  to keep in mind when you start to prepare your application: 

1. Carefully read the application guide for the immigration category and follow instructions.

  • Each immigration application should have an information package. Take the time to read through what documents you will need to gather for the application, any important deadlines, and if there are any special instructions for the country you are applying from.

2. Properly fill out, sign, and date the application forms and make sure that the forms are the most recent and up to date forms. You can check the form versions here.

3. If required, provide biometrics (fingerprints and photos) as soon as possible within 30 days of receiving the request

  • If you delay in making an appointment to give your biometrics, it will delay the processing of your application. The processing of your application does not start until you have paid for and given your biometrics.

4. Include all required documents, as indicated on the application checklist

  • Some countries will require extra documentation for the application. Another factor to keep in mind is what does not count towards the required documents. For example, Express Entry requires a scanned, coloured copy of the original police certificate. If you attach a certified true copy or an unauthorized copy of the police certificate, it will result in your application being rejected because it is incomplete. The IRCC provides application checklists for each program. You can find your application checklist here.

5. Pay the right fee using the correct method of payment.

  • Depending on what country you are applying from and what you are paying for, the payment instructions will be different. If you are unsure about the payment methods, click here to see how you can pay.

6. Include payment with your application.

  • Although it is important to remember to pay the correct fee, the most important part of your application is remembering to pay! Your application may be returned if you did not pay the correct amount, or if you have not paid the fee at all. You can check the fees list here.

7. Double-check your application before submitting it

  • For some programs like Express Entry, an incomplete application can lead to rejection. However, an incomplete application can also be returned to you. If it is returned to you, you will also be sent a letter or checklist that explains why and what is missing. This can be inconvenient, as processing time only starts when IRCC receives a complete application. Therefore, it is best to get your application right the first time.

8. Check the expiry date for certain documents

  • Keep in mind that certain documents will have an expiry date. If you submit an expired document, there is a chance that your application can be refused. For example, an Educational Credential Assessment (ECA) for Express Entry must be less than five years old when you submit a permanent residence application. If it is over five years old, you will need to obtain a new ECA.

A Final Word

We hope that this article has helped you understand the reasons behind application refusals. The general takeaway from this article should be to do your research about the program you are interested in applying for. The requirements for Canadian immigration can change from year to year, and there is a large amount of information to understand for each program. In addition, programs can change, so what was valid in previous years may not be valid when you decide to apply. If you are interested in learning about what you can do when your application is refused, refer to our YouTube video about your next steps when your application is refused by IRCC.

Should you have any questions about police clearance certificates, or have any other questions, feel free to reach out to us and we will surely get you started to understand the options that are available to you!


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