CIMM – French-Speaking Students from Africa – February 15 & 17, 2022
[Redacted] appears where sensitive information has been removed in accordance with the principles of the Access to Information Act and the Privacy Act.
- The government recognizes the tremendous social, cultural and economic benefits that international students bring to Canada.
- All applications received by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) are assessed on an individual basis based on the documentation included in the application for all lines of business. The Government of Canada and IRCC are committed to ensuring that each application is treated fairly and without discrimination.
- The approval rate for study permit applications from clients residing in French-speaking countries in Africa destined to Quebec is comparable to those destined to other provinces.
- In accordance with the Immigration and Refugee Act and Regulations, the most common reason for refusal is that the applicant is not able to show the officer that they will be able to support themselves while in Canada and demonstrate that they will leave Canada at the end of their authorized stay. In particular, the applicant may not be able to show that their studies are affordable for themselves or their family. Proof of funds is a top study permit refusal reason across the world. The intent of the international study permit program is for students to study in Canada, and not as a means to enter Canada to work.
- The Government of Canada is committed to facilitating the mobility of bona fide students and has put in place various initiatives to improve programs and application outcomes. To this end, the Department:
- Works with partners to attract eligible, admissible students from French-speaking Africa by regularly participating in education events and hosting webinars to explain the study permit application process and requirements; and
- Introduced the Student Direct Stream in Senegal and in Morocco in 2019 to assist students in making complete applications, where evidence of financial support are confirmed with verified banking institutions, and provide faster decisions for applicants. Results to date demonstrate higher approval rates and faster processing times – the program requires applicants to show evidence that the student's first year of tuition is paid in full, as well as provide a number of upfront documents that an officer uses to assess the bona fide nature of the applicant.
- The Government of Canada is committed to a fair and non-discriminatory application of immigration procedures. IRCC has committed to significantly advance efforts in support of anti-racism, diversity, equity and inclusion. The Department has undertaken a series of anti-racism initiatives that support the fair and non-discriminatory application of all immigration procedures, including:
- Delivering mandatory unconscious bias training for all employees;
- Supporting the review of all policies and programs to identify systemic racism, barriers and the disparate impacts on racialized groups; and
- Implementing mitigation plans to reduce racial disparities across programs and procedures based on the system review, data mapping, and external sources and identifying and addressing bias in decision-making and risk management including automation practices.
- The Department conducts regular quality assurance exercises on temporary resident applications throughout our processing network.
- In lower income countries, there is more incentive for people to want to migrate to other countries where they may have better opportunities. The data demonstrates that this has led to high proportions of non-genuine study permit applications. It also leads to a higher than average risk that the applicant will remain in Canada if their authorized stay ends, contributing to a lower than average approval rate.
- Extensive networks of ghost consultants in several countries have also exacerbated this situation, including by misleading otherwise genuine applicants and leading to a proliferation of fraudulent documents.
- Algeria is the second top source country in Africa for study permit applications; however, several quality assurance exercises have demonstrated that many Algerian applicants may be seeking to work in Canada, rather than to study.
Attracting genuine, eligible students from French-speaking Africa
- IRCC engages in outreach with partners and at public events to explain visa requirements and how to apply to avoid disappointment, and to prevent fraud.
- IRCC offices in Africa are making targeted promotional efforts to improve the quality of the applications received and thus increase approval rates. For example, the Department has partnered with L'Association des collèges et universités de la francophonie canadienne to promote the study permit program in Senegal. This includes the Student Direct Stream (SDS), an expedited processing stream, which provides faster decisions (within 20 days) for applicants who provide additional up-front documentation with their application. The benefit of SDS for eligible applicants is that they receive faster processing than regular study permit applicants.
- The Department has also been working closely with the Quebec bureau in Senegal and Morocco to promote studies in Quebec to students from West Africa and the Maghreb.
International Student Compliance Regime and Quebec
- In 2014, the International Student Compliance Regime (ISCR) was implemented by IRCC as an integrity tool to identify potentially non-genuine students and gather data to improve outcomes.
- All provinces and territories, except Quebec, currently participate in ISCR and report twice a year on the status of their students. This tool helps to counter possible fraud and exploitation of international students.
Student Program & Quebec
- Study permit applicants must first be accepted to a Canadian Designated Learning Institution before applying to IRCC for a study permit. Officers then assess applications to determine if applicants are bona fide and also that they are admissible to Canada on health, criminality and security grounds, as well as eligible on financial grounds.
- For foreign nationals destined to study in Quebec, the minimum funds Quebec requires students to have to support themselves are higher than those required for the rest of Canada (i.e. baseline of $13,000 for a person over 18 compared to $10,000 in other provinces). When determining eligibility of study permit applicants destined to Quebec, IRCC has to follow the requirements for minimum funds established by Quebec.
- Official language approval rates for countries in Africa are comparable each year. In some years, the approval rate may be slightly higher for French-speaking applicants, and vice versa. In 2019, for example, the approval rate for French-speaking students was 27%, while the approval rate for English-speaking students was 24%.
- Nigeria is the main source country for students from Africa, the vast majority of whom list English as their first official language. Due to various factors, including the Nigeria Student Express pilot and increased outreach, the approval rate for Nigeria rose from 17% in 2019 to 35% in 2021. As a consequence, the approval rate for English-speaking applicants rose relative to the approval rate for French-speaking applicants.
- In addition to promoting the Student Direct Stream in Morocco and Senegal, the Department is working with partners such as ACUFC and the province of Quebec to promote study in Canada in African countries where French is spoken.
Supporting Facts and Figures
- Volumes of temporary resident visa and study permit applications from Africa have significantly grown within the last decade; intake tripled from 2016 to 2019 across the top eight source countries in Africa, with the number of refusals generally increasing in relative proportion.
- The approval rate for study permit applications from clients residing in French speaking countries in Africa is comparable to the approval rate for all other African countries (27% versus 29% in 2020).
- In 2021 (January to December), the approval rate for study permit applications from clients residing in Morocco was 49%, 18% for Algeria, 20% for Cameroon and 23% for Democratic Republic of Congo.
- The approval rate based on declared official language (English or French) for those residing in Africa destined to Quebec is comparable to those destined to other provinces (27% for Quebec versus 32% for the rest of Canada).
- Date modified: