CIMM – Question Period Note - Refusal Of International Students From Africa – November 29, 2022
Date: Nov 16, 2022
Concerns regarding the amount of refusals for international students from Africa.
- The Government of Canada recognizes the tremendous social, cultural and economic benefits that international students bring to this country.
- All study permit applications from around the world are assessed equally and against the same criteria, regardless of the country of origin. Visa applications are considered on a case-by-case basis on the specific facts presented by the applicant.
- Volumes of temporary resident visa and study permit applications from Africa have significantly grown within the last decade; intake doubled from 2020 to 2021 across the top 8 source countries in Africa, with number of refusals generally increasing in relative proportion. IRCC undertook a number of measures to improve overall approval rates in Africa.
- These measures have contributed to an improvement of 10 percentage points of the approval rate of study permit applications in Africa, from 30% to 40%, during the last year, and significantly, an increase from 27% to 41% among franco-African applicants.
Measures to improve overall approval include:
- Requesting easily verifiable key evidence, in order to counter ghost consultants and fraud trends;
- Conducting training and developing products for decision makers to balance negative perceptions and mitigate unconscious bias;
- Increasing promotional activities, to increase awareness of Canada’s migration programs and how to apply effectively.
- IRCC has also made efforts to attract eligible students in Africa by engaging in outreach with partners and clients, and regularly hosts webinars to explain the study permit application process and requirements. Moreover, IRCC has implemented the Student Direct Stream (SDS) in Senegal and Morocco and a new initiative called the Nigeria Student Express (NSE) to expedite processing of applications that meet specific requirements. Those additional requirements help to demonstrate that the clients are eligible and lead to higher approval rate (NSE has allowed for an increase in the approval rate from 20% in 2019 to 80% in 2022.
- It’s important to note that the Province of Quebec has a higher minimum amount of funds requirement for foreign national students to support themselves than the rest of Canada.
Director General, International Network
Senior Assistant Deputy Minister, Operations
- The Government of Canada is committed to a fair and non-discriminatory application of immigration procedures. IRCC 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.
- 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 (genuine) students and also that they are admissible to Canada on health, security and financial grounds.
- Many applicants seeking a study permit do not present sufficient funds for their studies, or do not satisfy the visa officer that the studies are a reasonable expense given factors such as limited assets and low income. Hence, approval rates in many African countries are historically lower than global averages. Due to economic circumstances in many countries where a visa is required, some applicants for study permits are in fact seeking opportunities in Canada other than studies, for example, seeking to work without studying.
- In countries with a high interest in Canada, there are networks of ghost consultants who will often utilize fraudulent documents. IRCC officers are experienced in detecting fraud and non-genuine applicants, while striving to facilitate genuine visa applicants.
The Department has made efforts to attract eligible students in Africa and therefore helping to increase the acceptance rates, by engaging in outreach to partners as well as at public events. IRCC offices located in Africa participate to events such as EduCanada and EduQuebec and regularly host webinars to explain the study permit application process and requirements.
The Department regularly monitors acceptance rates for Temporary Resident applications, including for international students from Africa.
In 2018, IRCC introduced the Student Direct Stream (SDS) in Senegal and Morocco to assist students in making solid applications and demonstrating funds in a reliable way which is helping to increase the approval rate for study permits. A similar program called “Nigeria Student Express” has been launched for residents of Nigeria. Approval rates for students applying through this pilot are at 80% so far in 2022 compared to approval rates below 20% in 2019.
In November 2021, IRCC piloted a new project in Senegal to promote studies at francophone colleges and universities outside Quebec, in partnership with the Association des Collèges et Universités Francophone du Canada (ACUFC). Since then this collaborative promotion has been mirrored in Maghreb, Ivory Coast and East Africa.
- Consideration is being given to expand SDS to other countries in Africa.
- IRCC facilitates the travel of bona fides (genuine) visitors, students and workers to Canada, based on the documents that they provide. Refusals are inevitably met with disappointment, which may lead to negative commentary about Canada or IRCC offices in Africa as elsewhere. IRCC engages in outreach with both Global Affairs Canada and other partners, as well as at public events and on social media, in order to explain visa requirements and how to apply in order to avoid disappointment.
- The onus, however, remains on applicants to establish that they meet the requirements of the Act and Regulations, including that they have the resources to support themselves while in Canada and that they would depart Canada at the end of their authorized stay pursuant to section R216(1)(b). They are given the opportunity to present their cases by providing documentary evidence and any other relevant information to support their applications.
- With respect to concerns around potential bias in decision-making, each applicant is entitled to and receives an individualized assessment based on all of the information available on file. All applications are reviewed objectively and consistently to ensure fair and equitable treatment for all applicants. Each application is assessed on its own merit against the program requirements under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and its Regulations, and all decisions are neither discriminatory nor arbitrary. An officer’s decision is reached only after all factors pertaining to the circumstances of a case are carefully assessed, thoroughly and fairly, in accordance with the provisions of Canada’s immigration legislation. Since officers are obligated to uphold the provisions of the legislation, they cannot accept those applicants who do not meet all requirements.
- IRCC maintains quality assurance measures to achieve consistency in decision making on these applications. Additionally, the Department continues to analyze data, refine criteria, and design tools to improve decision making and ensure that genuine admissible students are able to study in Canada. The Department also monitors compliance rate: the designated learning institutions report back regularly on whether international students are attending school as planned. As an example, the compliance rate for students from Nigeria in the last report was 85%.
Study Permit Approval Rate
2022 - Q1: 55%
2022 - Q2: 59%
2022 – Q3: 59%
All Countries in Africa:
2022 - Q1: 30%
2022 - Q2: 35%
2022 – Q3: 40%
English Speaking African
2022 - Q1: 34%
2022 - Q2: 36%
2022 – Q3: 44%
French Speaking African
2022 - Q1: 26%
2022 - Q2: 34%
2022 – Q3: 36%
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