Federal Court rules IRCC can refuse Canadian study permit applications due to low grades

Julia Hornstein
Published: May 18, 2023

The Federal Court has ruled that it is reasonable for an Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) visa officer to refuse a study permit application if the applicant has low grades from a previous program of study in “core courses” or “core subjects” that are related to their intended program of study in Canada.

Discover your options to study in Canada

In the Barot vs. Canada (Citizenship and Immigration) Federal Court case, the applicant was a 23-year-old citizen from India. He applied for judicial review of a decision by an IRCC visa officer that refused his application for a study permit.

The applicant received a Bachelor’s Degree in Management Studies at the University of Mumbai in 2020. In 2021, the applicant applied for a study permit to pursue a post-graduate certificate in entrepreneurship management at Canadore College.

Along with his application, the applicant submitted his letter of acceptance to Canadore College, his transcripts and a letter of support from his current employer.

Even though Canadore College accepted the applicant, the visa officer denied his study permit application on the basis that the applicant did not demonstrate academic proficiency necessary to complete his studies in Canada. The transcripts provided by the applicant indicated low average marks, especially in core subjects. The officer concluded that the applicant was not a bona fide student and that the selected program of study was unreasonable.

In addition, the Court ruled that the visa officer did not have to explain why they are determining someone’s grades to be too low even though a Canadian post-secondary institution admitted the student.

Implications of this case are that visa officers have extensive discretion to refuse applications. In addition, if you are a student with lower grades, you should attempt to quiet concerns and provide arguments as to how those grades will affect (or not affect) your ability to successfully complete your proposed studies.

How to apply for a Canadian study permit

Canada is one of the world’s leading destinations for international students due to the country’s high quality of education, opportunities for international students to work during their studies, and the easier transition to permanent residence.

In order to be eligible to apply for a study permit, a prospective student must:

  • Obtain a letter of acceptance from a designated learning institution
  • Prove that you have sufficient financial support to cover the first year of tuition, as well as living expenses and return transportation to his or her home country
  • Obtain a Certificat d'acceptation du Quebec (Quebec Acceptance Certificate, or CAQ) if you wish to study in Montreal or elsewhere in the Province of Quebec
  • Have a clean record. Applicants with a criminal background, or who pose a risk to Canadian security, may be refused. IRCC may request an applicant to supply a police clearance certificate
  • Be in good health. IRCC may request an applicant to complete a medical examination; and,
  • Satisfy the immigration officer that you will leave Canada at the end of the stay authorized by the study permit

You should apply for a study permit as soon as you receive your letter of acceptance from a learning institution, as student permit processing times may vary.

Student Direct Stream

The Student Direct Stream (SDS) is a program designed to make applying for a Canadian study permit faster and more efficient for some international students. The SDS is for residents of 14 countries:

  • Antigua and Barbuda
  • Brazil
  • China
  • Colombia
  • Costa Rica
  • India
  • Morocco
  • Pakistan
  • Peru
  • Philippines
  • Senegal
  • St. Vincent and the Grenadines
  • Trinidad and Tobago
  • Vietnam

Those applications eligible for SDS are aimed to be processed in 20 days. To submit an application for a Canadian study permit through the SDS program, prospective student applicants must:

  • Provide a copy of a letter of acceptance from a Canadian Designated Learning Institution;
  • Present a confirmation document for the applicant’s upfront medical exam
  • Prove that they have obtained a Guaranteed Investment Certificate (GIC) of $10,000
  • Prove that tuition fees for the first year of study are paid
  • Show proof of language test results completed within two years of the SDS application being received demonstrating an IELTS score of 6 in English or NCLC 7 for French
  • Submit the application at a Visa Application Centre (VAC)

Discover your options to study in Canada



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