Federal court reverses IRCC work permit refusals based on language ability

Julia Hornstein
Published: November 3, 2023

Two recent cases before the Federal Court of Canada dealt with work permit applications where an Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) officer denied the application based on the applicant's language ability.

Schedule a Free Work Permit Consultation with the Cohen Immigration Law Firm

In the first case, the applicant, Mehri Hosseinibay, was a citizen of Iran who sought a judicial review of a visa officer’s decision to refuse her work permit application under the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP).

Mehri applied to work as a Construction Project Coordinator for a landscaping company and her employer obtained a positive Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) for the position. However, her work permit application was refused on the grounds that she had not demonstrated that she could perform the work based on her language proficiency.

The court stated that it was unclear how the officer determined that she did not have the necessary language skills for the job. There was no language requirement for the position. In addition, although not required, Mehri provided a copy of her IELTS English language test results indicating she was a modest or intermediate English speaker. Finally, her employer had indicated that she met the requirements for the job.

The court concluded that the officer’s decision to refuse her visa was unreasonable since he did not explain nor justify how the evidence provided by Mehri proved that she could not perform her job.

In the second case, the applicant, Santokh Singh, was an Indian citizen who had been working as a farm labourer. He had received and accepted a job offer from an employer in British Columbia under the title “farm worker”. He then also applied for a work permit under the TFWP.

The job offer had no formal education requirements and the duties required by the job involved operating farm machinery and equipment, examining produce for quality, preparing produce for market and reporting to and following the directions of a farm supervisor.

The visa officer sent Santokh a procedural fairness letter stating that his application did not contain sufficient evidence to demonstrate that the applicant’s language abilities would allow him to complete these job duties. Specifically, the letter noted that the job required a level of reading and comprehension in how to operate machinery and knowing safety procedures.

In response, Santokh provided various supporting documentation to demonstrate his English language proficiency. This included proof that he completed a diploma in software application in English, a certificate from his high school and college where the main language of instruction was English and where he had a good understanding of basic reading and writing in English. Santokh also provided a letter of support from a local business owner acknowledging that the applicant had all the basic knowledge of maintenance of farm equipment. However, the application was refused.

The court ultimately ruled that the officer’s decision was neither intelligible nor reasonable when read in conjunction with the evidence that the applicant provided.

The implication of both these cases is that visa officers will consider an applicant’s language ability even if there were no language requirements for the position and the applicant was deemed qualified for the job by the employer.

Therefore, it is important to provide sufficient evidence in your application that you are proficient in English or French when applying for a work permit, even though it may not be required or may seem unnecessary.

Schedule a Free Work Permit Consultation with the Cohen Immigration Law Firm

Share this article
Share your voice
Did you find this article helpful?
Thank you for your feedback.
Subscribe to our newsletter
Did you find this article helpful?
Please provide a response
Thank you for your helpful feedback
Please contact us if you would like to share additional feedback, have a question, or would like Canadian immigration assistance.
  • Do you need Canadian immigration assistance? Contact the Contact Cohen Immigration Law firm by completing our form
  • Send us your feedback or your non-legal assistance questions by emailing us at media@canadavisa.com
Related articles
Budget 2024: How Canada is continuing its commitment to safe and inclusive communities
A Family out boating together having fun on vacation
Budget 2024: How will it impact Canadian immigration?
Canada has released Budget 2024.
10 frequently asked questions by visitors to Canada
View of Skylon Tower and abandond Ontario Power Comany Generating Station at river level seeing from a boat tour
I am a Canadian permanent resident, how long do I actually need to stay in Canada?
Calgary skyline
Top Stories
Study: Immigrants admitted to Canada as children have better education and work outcomes
How an ECA can help you immigrate to Canada
British Columbia and Prince Edward Island issue PNP nominations this week
Join our free newsletter. Get Canada's top immigration stories delivered to your inbox.
More in Provinces
British Columbia and Prince Edward Island issue PNP nominations this week
From Yellowhead highway, a view of the highest peak in the Canadian Rockies - Mount Robson Provincial Park in British Columbia, Canada.
Where in Canada can I settle: applicants selected by province or territory vs by the federal government
From front to back the flags represent British Columbia, Manitoba, New Brusnwick, Nova Scotia, Quebec and Ontario provinces.
British Columbia and Manitoba invite provincial nominees
A picture of a Canadian flatland with mountains in the back.
Ontario releases 2024 PNP allocation; Three provinces nominate candidates in latest draws
Ontario will invite 21,500 candidates to apply for provincial nomination in 2024
Link copied to clipboard