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Lawyers may greatly assist foreign students navigate visa process

Hiring legal counsel may improve the chances of success for applicants seeking a permit to study in Canada, Toronto immigration lawyer Robin Seligman tells

In its most recent evaluation of the International Student Program (ISP), Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) found that about 25 per cent of applicants for Canadian study permits, or around 35,000 prospective students, were rejected every year between 2009 and 2013.

The federal government report noted that the acceptance and rejection rates in the period barely fluctuated from year to year, even as application numbers varied.

Seligman, principal of Seligman Immigration Law, explains refusals are generic and it is difficult for applicants to understand why they were rejected.

"Many times refusals are based on an officer's determination that an applicant will not leave Canada when their permit expires because of insufficient ties to home or the existence of family members in Canada. This is even the case when an applicant has a clear and legal path to transition to permanent residence after they graduate. 

“There’s no reason why a person would know they have to address these issues and a lawyer may be of great value to applicants," Seligman says.

Currently, she says the most realistic option for overturning a rejected study permit is to launch a judicial review application in Federal Court.

“But this is a very expensive and time-consuming process with no guarantee of success,” Seligman says.

However, she says none of the other options open to failed applicants is any more attractive. A request for reconsideration by the same officer who originally denied the application is highly unlikely to produce a different result, while a fresh application is likely to be tarnished by the previous denial.  

“A quicker and more effective appeal system would be preferable, especially since any denial can have a negative impact on the applicant’s ability to study and visit Canada in future for any reason,” Seligman says.


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