Canada Study Permit Refusal – Purpose of Visit & Common Student Visa Rejection Reasons


This article discusses all you need to know about Canada study permit refusal – purpose of visit and other Canada student visa rejection reasons.

We’ll discuss what led to Canada’s stringent student visa laws, the common reasons for Canada study permit refusal purpose of visit, and how you can avoid them. Then, we’ll go on to break down the steps you can take if your study permit gets refused.

Basically, this post prepares you for whatever situation might come up in your Canada student visa application. Read on!

 After being accepted to your dream educational institution (College/University) in Canada, the next thing you will need to do as an international student is to apply for a Canada study permit. The study permit is a non-immigrant visa.

Unfortunately, it is common for a study permit to be refused for an international student and you may face a “Canada study permit refusal – purpose of visit” as the reason for the visa refusal. The good thing is you can avoid this, and if it has happened already, you can fix it.

We’ve dissected the common reasons for the Canadian study permit in this guide and how you can avoid or fix them. So, let’s get right into it.

What Does “Canada Study Permit Refusal – Purpose of Visit” Mean?

To many, this term may be vague. The officer may not be convinced that your intentions of applying for a temporary visa to study in Canada are genuine or truthful. The course you choose and the duration you wish to study in Canada plays a significant role in study permit applications. 

The visa officer assessing your application will do it under section 16(1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. This section states: “A person who makes an application must answer truthfully all questions put to them for examination and must produce a visa and all relevant evidence and documents that the officer reasonably requires.”

So, if you have omitted any information or evidentiary documents, the officer may not approve your study permit application. Therefore, if your goal is to enter Canada to work and remain there, do not take any chances to apply for your study permit.

The visa officer has to be satisfied that you are a legitimate student with a truthful purpose for study. The IRCC visa officer handling your case may also not be sure that you have enough financial resources to cover your tuition, travel, and living cost in Canada and that you are not inadmissible to Canada.

Subsection 216(1) of the IRPR

This section means the visa officer is not convinced that you will leave Canada after your degree program.

216 (1) Subject to subsections (2) and (3) states: An officer shall issue a study permit to a foreign national if, after an examination, it established that

(a) The foreign national applied for it in accordance with this Part;

(b) The foreign national will leave Canada at the end of the authorized period for their stay under Division 2 of Part 9;

(c) The foreign national meets the requirements of this Part;

(d) The foreign national meets the requirements of subsections 30(2) and (3), if they must submit to a medical examination under paragraph 16(2)(b) of the Act; and

(e) The foreign national has been accepted to undertake a program of study at a designated learning institution (DLI).

Reasons for Canada’s Stringent Student Visa Laws

A study permit and an entry visa is compulsory for international students who wish to study in Canada. After gaining admission into a DLI (Designated Learning Institution), the next step is to apply for and obtain your Canadian student visa/study permit.

As of 31st December 2019, the IRCC (Immigration, Refugees, Citizens Canada) calculated the number of international students with a Canadian student visa to be 640,000. This number increases every year. 

However, increasing visa applications has led to a surplus of Canadian student visa rejections. According to IRCC, an average of 30% of Canada’s total student visa applications get rejected every year.

The Canadian government has laid out strict student visa laws. The primary reasons for this decision to follow a rigid format and reject study permit applications at the slightest doubt were:

  • Rising fraudulent cases has resulted in stricter laws. 
  • About 10% dubious cases were registered between February 2018 to November 2018.
  • The rise in rejection rate observed from 2012 to 2018.

There was a sharp increase in the Canadian student visa rejection rate during the first five months of 2019. Four out of every ten Canadian student visa applications were rejected. This number accounts for around 39% of the total applications. 

Students who applied to study for their bachelor’s suffered the most rejection while those who applied for their doctorate (PhD) suffered the lowest. 

Statistics for Canadian Student Visa Rejection Rate

Applicant TypePercentage of Applications Rejected
Universities43 %
Colleges43 %
Bachelors54 %
Masters32 %
Doctorate12 %
Overall/Average39 %
Table: Rate of rejection for Canada Study Visa applicants

Canada Study Permit Refusal – Purpose of Visit & Popular Student Visa Rejection Reasons

After fulfilling all the minimum criteria for admissions, most international students naturally feel optimistic about the decision. However, even when the applicant has fulfilled all the institution’s academic and entry requirements, he may still not get his study permit. We’ve listed some of the popular reasons for rejection of study permit by the IRCC below:

Questionable Letter of Acceptance

You need a letter of acceptance from a Canadian DLI (Designated Learning Institute) to apply for a study permit. If your acceptance letter is in question, the immigration officer may reject your Canadian study visa.

Apart from the letter of acceptance, you also have to meet the minimum entry requirements for the particular institution. If the immigration officer doubts whether you meet these requirements, s/he may also reject your study permit.

Certificat d’acceptation du Québec:

If you will be studying at a school in Quebec, a certificat d’acceptation du Québec (CAQ) is required, which is issued by the Gouvernement du Québec. Your educational institution can give you all the information on how to apply for the CAQ.

If your application for a CAQ gets approved by the ministère de l’Immigration, de la Francisation et de l’Intégration (MIFI), but you’re still waiting to get the CAQ, you can apply for your study permit with the approval letter from the MIFI. You are not required to wait for the CAQ to apply for your study permit.

Find out what you need for studying in Quebec.

How to Avoid => You can prevent this problem by ensuring your acceptance letter comes from a registered educational institution in Canada. Attach sufficient documents to prove that you possess the minimum admission requirements, and if possible, attach additional supporting documents. Also, if you will be studying at a school in Quebec, make sure you receive an approval letter from the MIFI before applying for your study permit.

Your Choice of Program

If the immigration officer questions your choice of program, your Canadian student visa and study permit might get rejected.

In situations where your chosen program does not align with your academic or employment background, then your chances of getting rejected are even higher. In addition, if you apply to a program that you seem overqualified for, you may receive a refusal. For example, you already have a Masters degree from outside Canda and you have a letter of acceptance for a Post Graduate Diploma (PGD) program in Canada.

Letter of Explanation (LOE):

The LOE helps the visa officer to understand you and your goals to study in Canada. It justifies:

  • why you want to study in Canada and
  • that you know your obligations as a student

How to Avoid => You can address this issue by including a detailed personal statement for your choice of program if it does not align with your past education or work experience.

On the other hand, if your choice aligns with your previous background, you can attach a detailed education or work history along with your applications.

You should include a letter of explanation (also referred to as an SOP letter) when you apply for a study permit.

English Language Proficiency

You’ll have to submit proof of language proficiency if you are a non-native English speaking international student. You have to meet the minimum standardized English language test (TOEFL/IELTS) scores when applying through SDS (Student Direct Stream) or SPP program. 

Even if you have the minimum score and meet the DLI ELP requirements, failing to meet the program requirements may lead to your student visa getting rejected. 

How to Avoid => Make sure that you meet the minimum language score requirements for the specific program to avoid Canada study permit refusal. Before applying, be familiar with the standard language test scores and requirements for studying in Canada.

Incomplete Identity or Travel Documents (including Lack of Travel History)

Your study permit may be rejected if you do not have previous travel history outside your country of origin. Keep in mind that this is a subjective reason and not an objective one. However, study permit applicants from some countries (especially third-world and less developed countries) have gotten their study permit refused for this reason.

If you receive a Canada study permit refusal for lack of travel history, we recommend that you first order your GCMS Notes from IRCC, and then re-apply based on what is indicated in your GCMS Notes.

Also, if you indicated in your study permit application form that you have previous travel history but the travel documents you provide (such as your previous passport with visas or stamps of entry and exit from the countries you visited) does not cover those periods, it could lead to a refusal.

The chances of your study permit getting rejected are even higher if your identity documents are incomplete or uneasy to read.

How to Avoid => It would be best if you justify your travel history with sufficient proof and documents. Your identity documents must be straightforward and easy to read.

Lack of Sufficient Funds

The minimum financial requirement you need to study in Canada is proof of adequate funds for the first year of your course/program – for yourself and any family members who will come with you to Canada. This shows that you can support your studies in Canada and also indicates that you are financially stable.

The tables below show the minimum funds needed to support yourself as a student and any member of your family who will accompany you to Canada:

All Provinces in Canada (except Quebec)

Persons coming to CanadaMinimum funds required per year (this is in addition to tuition)Minimum funds required per month (this does not include tuition)
You (the student)$10,000 CAD$833 CAD
First family member$4,000 CAD$333 CAD
Every additional family member who come with you to Canada$3,000 CAD$255 CAD

For instance:
If the school in Canada that you intend to study at is located in a province outside Quebec. Say your tuition fee for one year is $19,000 CAD and you and 3 of your family members will accompany you to Canada (e.g. yourself plus your spouse and 2 children), you will need at least a total of $39,000 CAD. See the breakdown below:

  • Your tuition fee for one year: $19,000 CAD +
  • Living expenses: $10,000 (for you – the student) +
  • Living expenses: $4,000 (for the first family member) +
  • Living expenses: $3,000 (for the second family member) +
  • Living expenses: $3,000 (for the second family member).

In Quebec

Persons coming to CanadaMinimum funds required per year (this is in addition to tuition)Minimum funds required per month (this does not include tuition)
You (the student)$11,000 CAD$917 CAD
First family member (18 years or older)$5,100 CAD$425 CAD
First family member (under the age of 18)$3,800 CAD$317 CAD
Every additional accompanying family member (18 years or older)$5,125 CAD$427 CAD
Every additional accompanying family member (under the age of 18)$1,903 CAD$159 CAD

Thus, if the IRCC immigration officer suspects a sign of insufficient funds, he/she may reject your study permit application. Also, if your home country uses FX (foreign-exchange) controls, you must prove that you’ll be permitted to transfer funds for all of your expenses during your period of study in Canada.

How to Avoid => You can treat this problem by ensuring that you don’t merely focus on the minimum required fund. You can include evidence of sufficient finances for more than a year and additional documents that support your finances in the application.

Find out the cost of studying in Canada. Then, plan your expenses in line so that you can completely cover your grounds.

Intent to Return to Your Home Country

The study permit is a temporary visa and therefore has a specific validity period. So, you have to submit enough evidence to prove your intent to return to your home country.

Although, this does not mean you cannot request an extension of your study permit or change your immigration status in Canada (such as obtaining Canadian Permanent Residency – PR).

It is, however, compulsory for you to provide documentation that supports your intention of returning to your home country after your studies in Canada. The reason is to make sure you will not remain in Canada after your study permit expires especially in situations where there are no available opportunities for you to legitimately remain in Canada.

How to Avoid => You can address this concern by providing a detailed personal statement. When addressing this concern in your statement, you should also understand the dual intent concept.

Dual intent accounts for applicants who initially want to visit Canada temporarily (on a study or work visa) and intend to become permanent residents of the country later.

Low Employment Prospects in Your Home Country

A lack of job prospects in an applicant’s home country is typically used as a benchmark in assessing the applicant’s intention to return home.

The IRCC visa officer may conclude that you intend to settle in Canada, if any of the following applies at the time of your Canada study permit application:

  • If you are not employed, or
  • If you have been unemployed for an extended period of time in your country of residence, or
  • If it does not appear that you have employment prospects in your home country after completing your studies in Canada,

This may lead to a rejection of your Canadian study permit (student visa).

How to Avoid => Present proof of your current employment status. If possible, also include documents and statements that suggest that there are enough employment opportunities in your home country after you complete your studies in Canada. 

Other Reasons for Canada Study Permit Refusal:

  • The applicant’s failure to meet international security standards, for instance, if the applicant has a criminal record.
  • The applicant’s failure to meet up with health standards.
  • Misrepresentation: If you have previously misrepresented false information to Canadian immigration and have been banned. 
  • If you have been previously deported for overstaying in any other country.
  • Human Rights Violations: If you have previously served in the military for a country deemed to have engaged in war crimes. You can overcome this inadmissibility by providing additional documents.
  • Medical Inadmissibility: If you have a contagious disease that is a threat to Canadians​.

Other factors could lead to a Canadian visa refusal or a study permit rejection, but most of them fall within the parameters mentioned above. If the immigration officer denies your application, you may appeal the refusal or reapply for the visa.

The best option is typically for you to reapply with your newly improved application. To ensure that you address any red flags in your previous application, you should first Order Your GCMS Notes Online from IRCC


Valuable Strategies to Decrease the Chances of Canadian Study Visa Refusal

Now that we’ve discussed some of the common reasons for Canadian study visa refusal, it’s important to point out that the rejection letter holds many clues about why your application was rejected. Read the letter carefully and note any information you can use later to strengthen your reapplication case. 

Another option is to ask your visa officer to give you access to the notes made while reviewing your application. This may assist you in treating any concerns in your reapplication. The new application may also pass through another visa officer who may have a different opinion about the documents you provided. What if you can prevent this refusal from happening at all?

Let’s discuss a few valuable strategies that could help you avoid a visa refusal in the first place:

  • Make a list of required documents you need to submit to obtain a study visa. You can find a similar listing on the Government of Canada’s official website.
  • Carefully fill the visa form and make sure you leave no column.
  • You are required to upload a copy of the offer letter you received from a recognized college or Canadian university.
  • If you are applying under SPP, you must be able to show evidence of finances. If possible, you should obtain a Guaranteed Investment Certificate (GIC) by transferring at least $10,200 CAD to a participating Canadian bank, such as RBC Royal Bank of Canada, ScotiaBank, CIBC, TD Bank, or BMO. 
  • If you have work experience, you can submit salary slips or bank statements as proof.
  • While applying online, answer all the questions asked on the IRCC (formerly CIC) website. 
  • Mention all your travel histories and visa rejections (if you have any) in the visa file.
  • The most important write up is your Statement of Purpose (SOP) letter, also referred to as a statement of intent. It introduces you to the visa officer. Mention your academic achievements and your intention to study in Canada. Remember, this statement of intent can either make or break your file. 

What Should You Do After Canada Study Permit Refusal?

You can appeal against the decision after study permits refusal. There are three ways you can proceed with this: Requesting re-evaluation, appealing against the decision in federal court, and submitting a new application. Although filing a judicial appeal is an impartial assessment, it is a burdensome process. Most students prefer just to file a new study permit application.

Usually, there is a refusal letter from the immigration officer that lists the reasons for refusal and goes into the case details. As said earlier, you should carefully consult the refusal letter to see the areas that the immigration officer found unsatisfactory. Follow this with an in-depth review of your application and your GCMS Notes, then make needed changes and improvements. In many cases, what you need to do is reapply.

However, before you reapply, you have to take time to figure out what could be causing red flags for an immigration officer. For instance, if you wish to bring your spouse or children with you on your study permit, the immigration officer may think you’re not showing enough ties to your home country. 

In this instance, when you are re-submitting your application, it would be best if you show that you have extended family in your home country and enough reason to move back home after you complete your program.

Appealing Against Your Canada Study Permit Refusal – Purpose of Visit

You have the opportunity to appeal your refusal to the federal court formally. This approach is severe and costly, and unless the immigration officer made an error in law and/or fact, you’re not going to win the case.

It’s tough to win on a study permit refusal at the federal court. Generally, it is often not the most effective approach, and reapplying is more advisable.  

Depending on the case, it is also a good idea to consider if you are eligible for an appeal. You can check with the Federal Court of Canada or the IAD (Immigration Adjudication Division). However, this appeal is only valid within a certain period, and you should act on it immediately.

If you are taking this route, and it applies to your case, it may be a good idea to engage the help of a lawyer who specializes in Canadian visa applications to raise your approval chances.

The Top 3 Options for a Study permit Applicant After a Rejected Visa Application:

1. Request a Re-evaluation

This option involves requesting the immigration officer to reconsider and reevaluate the original decision. The officer is not obligated to entertain this request, which means the scope for a rejection reversal is very little.

2. Submit a New Application

Submitting a new application could be the ideal next step depending on the reason for visa refusal. As a wrong rejection can also become the basis for a future denial. The new application has to clearly rectify the reason for which the first application was rejected. 

If the rejection letter does not state the reason in detail, you can seek the reasons in writing through an ATIP request (Access to Information and Privacy). Officially, the immigration office must process these requests within 30 days, but it can take longer.

Despite that, there is still no guarantee that the officer’s written reasoning will be detailed enough to help you while reapplying.

3. Appeal to Canada’s Federal Court

Although this option provides better scope for impartial assessment and reversal of a rejected permit due to a wrong interpretation of the law, it is time-consuming and expensive. It can take up to a year for the judge to finally hear and decide on the matter. Even then, the judge has no authority to change the decision or approve the study permit.

If the applicant gets a favorable ruling, a different immigration officer will take up the application, and he must consider the judge’s views when deciding on the application. However, even though the new officer won’t repeat the original mistake, there is no guarantee that he won’t unfavourably interpret another rule. The opportunity to study at that particular institution may have passed while going through all these processes.

Both the Federal Judge and the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration can send the case to a different immigration officer. However, there is still very little awareness about this option, and it is difficult to access. The immigration officer makes the final decision, and this means the risk of wrong interpretation of the rules remains.

What Changes Should You Make after Getting a Canada Study Permit Refusal?

Correct Your Initial Mistakes

If the reason for the Canada study permit refusal purpose of visit rejection is a mistake on your application, you can fix the issue by making the proper corrections. Do an appropriate check of the information you provided and present any data or supporting documentation required. When you are doing this, ensure you have a good explanation for why you did not give this new information during your first application.

Seek Professional Help

Your immigration physical file information is essential to getting the refusal overturned or your second application approved. It helps you understand what influenced the immigration officer to believe you wouldn’t go home after your studies.

If you are unable to interpret your GCMS Notes, you may engage the help of an immigration professional (such as a lawyer or a consultant) who can help you discover the factor that stopped you from getting your visa.  

The laws that govern Canadian visa rejection can be quite complicated. It may be in your best interest to talk to an experienced immigration expert who can give you proper advice and support for your situation.

Canada Study Permit Refusal – Purpose of Visit vs Work and Visitors Visa Refusal

Work Visa

For a Canadian work visa or work permit, the usual reasons for refusal are the same as the usual reasons for a typical Canadian visa refusal. However, regarding a Canadian work visa, there is a distinction between a refusal and a return.

A refusal will come due to a failure to prove intent, finances, provide supporting documents, meet security, health, or criminal admissibility standards. On the other hand, a return may come if the program quota is full. Another reason is due to missing documents or wrongly filled application materials. 

If the program you have applied for has reached its limit of accepted applicants, you will be unable to reapply at that time for that particular program. However, if it was returned for missing information, you can just correct these mistakes and reapply.

Visitor Visa

If your visitor’s visa application was refused, applying again with the exact information will not change the decision.

Some of the possible reasons for your visa application refusal are:

  1. The visa officer in charge of your case has reason to believe you’ll stay back in Canada beyond your authorized stay.
  2. You’re inadmissible to Canada. In this case, the decision will not change even if you apply a second time. Reapplying will only cost you more money and cause longer processing times for other applicants. However, if your situation later changes, you may reapply again with your new information.

Some examples of situation changes are:

  1. You applied for criminal rehabilitation, and you were approved.
  2. You are now eligible for deemed rehabilitation.
  3. You are still inadmissible, but you are applying for a temporary resident permit.
  4. You were only inadmissible for medical reasons, but that situation has since changed.

Like the study visa, if you are refused a Canadian visitor visa, it will be best to follow the typical procedure of reviewing the reasons for rejection, correcting all mistakes, and providing any extra information before you reapply.

If you are sure nothing was lacking on your first application and it was the visa officer’s mistake, you might be eligible to appeal. In such situations, you will probably want to consult a Canadian-based immigration lawyer.

What Happens Once Your Study Permit is Approved?

If your application to study in Canada is approved, and you are an applicant from a country that requires a Temporary Resident Visa (TRV) to enter Canada, you will need to submit your original passport (if you did not do this on the onset), for the visa counterfoil to be issued. You may be issued multiple entries or single entry; as this is at the disgression of the visa officer and on a case-by-case basis.

Then at the port of entry in Canada, your study permit will be issued. The study permit will only be valid for a certain period, which is typically for the duration of your studies or until the expiry date of your passport, whichever comes first.

FAQs on Canada Study Permit Refusal Purpose of Visit and Common Canada Student Visa Rejection Reasons

Final Thoughts on Canada Study Permit Refusal – Purpose of Visit and Common Canada Student Visa Rejection Reasons

Between 2009 and 2013, almost three out of every four study permit applications were approved. Even though this proportion of successful applicants was significant, a 25-27% rejection rate was recorded. This means nearly 100,000 students were denied the opportunity to study in Canada during that time period.

A Canada study permit refusal (e.g. purpose of visit) becomes a permanent blemish on your travel visa record. Therefore, it is important that you prepare and submit a ‘solid’ visa application on your first attempt. We recommend that you include a Statement of Purpose (SOP) letter to your Canada student visa application.

If your Canada study permit application is refused it may complicate future attempts to obtain any other visa in Canada or other countries that attach importance to Canadian authorities’ visa rejection.

This does not have to be you, and you can avoid this. How? 

You don’t have to spend thousands of dollars hiring an immigration consultant. You can achieve your Canadian dream by making use of the free resources that are available on this site. The best part is they are so easy you can do them yourself!

What Next?

READ ALSO: Chances of Getting Canada Tourist Visa After Refusal.

GET => Your GCMS Notes from IRCC, Canada.


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    1. Louisa,
      Thanks for your feedback. We are glad you found this comprehensive guide on Canada study permit/visa refusal reasons helpful.

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