According to IRCC data released to Polestar Student Immigration News, the number of study permit rejections for international students heading to Canada has been growing since 2013, this year reaching 39% of total applications worldwide. Around 53% of applications for study permits for bachelor’s degree courses are now refused.
Those wishing to study English or French as a foreign language fare slightly better, with just under a third being rejected, while 89% of doctorate applications are accepted.
But a spokesperson for IRCC in Canada, the country’s immigration authority, told The PIE News that consistent evaluation of visa applications is taking place.
“All applications from around the world are assessed equally against the same criteria,” they said. “Visa applications are considered on a case-by-case basis, based on the information presented by the applicant. The onus is on the applicant to show that they meet the requirements for a visitor visa.”
Dave Sage, a Canadian immigration consultant, acknowledged that the perception of Canada as a safe place to migrate may lead some to view the international student program “as a way to enter the country with the least amount of scrutiny”.
“This may pull in more individuals who are not transparent in their intentions, and that would give visa officers the red card to refuse them,” he added.
In Ghana, one education travel consultancy explained that there was a slim ratio of successful applications to visas issued.
“Looking at the gathered information we have, 98% of students applying for admission get their admission but only 20% get their visa,” a representative at Achilinks, a travel consultancy in Ghana, told The PIE News.
“53% of application for study permits for bachelors degree courses are now refused”
“The main reasons why students visas are refused are not having social ties in one’s home country, not having enough funds though they may have more than enough to cater for their tuition and living expenses, and their intention to study not being clear.”
In Ghana, 62% of study permit applications were rejected this year. Among African nations, Nigeria, which makes 12,000 study permit applications annually, saw 81% of potential students turned down, the third-highest rate on the continent after Algeria with 86% and Cameroon with 82%.
The Democratic Republic of the Congo, Senegal and Kenya also had high rates of refusal with 75%, 71% and 70% of applications being rejected respectively.
However, Achilinks notes that students with a government scholarship are far less likely to be refused, with 60% to 70% of their scholarship students getting visas.
Brent Morris, the director of IE Abroad, which offers study advice to potential international students, said the company was “nervous” to promote Canada as a study destination in the DRC due to the high rate of rejections.
Elsewhere, Nepal and Pakistan also saw over three quarters of their applications rejected, along with 67% of those from Bangladesh. In stark contrast, 96% of applications from Japan were approved.
With Canada now the fourth most popular destination for international students globally – a 16% rise in enrolments was recorded in 2018 – the country has been looking to diversify the source destinations of incoming students.
In its new five-year plan for international education, it chose 11 markets to focus on in particular, including Morocco.
Morocco and Senegal were recently added to the Student Direct Stream (SDS), which fast tracks study permit applications, joining China, Vietnam, India, the Philippines and Pakistan.
According to the IRCC, “Student Direct Stream applicants have additional up-front requirements as part of the SDS process as they must submit more proof that they have the financial resources and language skills to succeed academically in Canada.”
“It is too early to assess whether SDS is having an effect on approval rates for study permit applications in Pakistan, Senegal and Morocco,” an IRCC representative told The PIE News.
There was also huge variation in rejections depending on which province a student intended to go to. In 2017, British Columbia rejected 27% of study permit applications, while New Brunswick rejected twice that amount.
IRCC told The PIE, “Unless the officer is satisfied that the applicant is a genuine visitor, a TRV [temporary residence visa] cannot be issued.”
• Additional reporting by Claudia Civinini