top of page

5 Common reasons for study permit application refusals

Updated: Nov 8, 2023

The study permit refusal rate by Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) for Jamaican applicants has seen a marked increase from approximately 27% in 2019 to around 59% in 2021, following the Covid-19 pandemic. With Canada being an increasingly popular choice for international students wishing to study abroad, the increased volume of applicants has made it significantly harder to secure a study permit.

It is therefore important to understand the common reasons for visa refusals to avoid these pitfalls when preparing your study permit application and improve your likelihood of approval success.

Here are 5 common shortcomings in study permit applications that lead to refusals:

1. Lack of adequate and convincing means to cover tuition and living expenses.

It is recommended that applicants provide evidence of their ability to cover at least their first year’s tuition costs and living expenses, estimated at an additional CAD$10,000 (minimum). The proof (evidence) and source (how same was accumulated) are equally important to the immigration officer.

2. Lack of convincing intent to return to your home country after your program of study has ended.

Applicants who have never travelled outside of their home country are usually deemed more likely to not return home after their intended program of study and therefore more likely to be refused than applicants with prior travel history. Providing evidence of sufficient ties to your home country (property, family, other assets, business(es), job opportunities/offers in the related field of study etc.) and a genuine outline in your letter of intent of how you intend to utilize your education in Canada to achieve your long-term career goals in your home country are great ways of supporting your intent to return home after your studies.

An employment gap or lack of current employment may also adversely affect the outcome of an applicant’s study permit application. It may be perceived that there are limited employment opportunities in their home country, which would make it less likely for the applicant to return home upon completion of their study. The applicant’s statement in the letter of intent therefore plays an important role in convincing the immigration officer about the applicant's genuine intent to return home upon completion of study in Canada.

Immigration & Refugee Protection Regulations Subsection 216(1)(b) "Subject to subsections (2) and (3), an officer shall issue a study permit to a foreign national if, following an examination, it is established that the foreign national will leave Canada by the end of the period authorized for their stay under Division 2 of Part 9".

3. Questionable choice of program or academic history.

The cost of studying in Canada is usually a significant investment for most applicants. Hence, immigration officers may question an applicant’s rationale for making such a significant investment to pursue a program that is not deemed advantageous to their career trajectory. Hence, where there is a misalignment in the intended course of study and the applicant’s past work experience and academic qualifications, it is important to explain the reason for the choice of program and the proposed benefits that it will yield for the applicant. Provide supporting evidence or proof of claims being made as best as possible.

Common academic-related reasons for the rejection of Canada student visa include:

  1. Applying for a Post Graduate Diploma with very high GPA in Bachelors program.

  2. Applying for a Post Graduate Diploma after completing a Masters program.

  3. Evidence of a Career Gap without explanation.

  4. Pursuing a second Masters program (non-MBA).

  5. Intended Program not aligned with prior education or work experience (e.g. applying for Culinary program with a Nursing degree; or applying for Nursing program after working in the HR field for years).

  6. Poor academic performance.

  7. Failure to satisfy the pre-requisites for your intended course of study.

4. Letter of acceptance.

Failure to submit a letter of acceptance from a designated learning institution (DLI) will most likely result in a refusal of your study permit application. Be sure to secure an acceptance from the institution before submitting your study permit application and ensure that the institution is on the DLI list.

Also, failure to satisfy the academic pre-requisites outlined by the institution will most likely result in a refusal of your application. It is therefore important that these pre-requisites are satisfied prior to applying for your study permit or where exemptions are provided, supporting evidence is submitted with the application and clearly detailed in your letter of intent.

5. Lack of proper and accurate supporting documentation/ Inconsistencies in the information provided.

Ensure that the relevant supporting documentation is included in your application to paint a clear picture to the immigration officer of any unusual circumstances. Be sure to provide birth certificates or affidavits to clarify relationships between applicant and sponsor(s), expired passports are submitted to confirm travel history, proof and source of recent lumpsum transfers on bank account statements are provided and explained, explanations about inconsistencies in intended program of study and past work experiences and academic qualifications should also be outlined in the letter of intent.

The submission of fraudulent documents is also a major area of concern cited by the IRCC for visa refusal. Please be sure to ensure the authenticity of the documents submitted in your application package as the submission of fraudulent documents may lead to you being denied entry to Canada and other countries permanently.

Engage expert resources

We suggest using the checklist provided on the IRCC’s website (Study permit: Get the right documents - when compiling your student visa application for submission. It is also encouraged to engage the services of an expert (certified) professional to assist you with your study permit application. Many schools provide support in this regard, speak to your international student advisor for further information.

Leave us a comment below to let us know if you found this content useful. Please also schedule an appointment using the following link: Book Online | CareerQuest ( to speak with one of our expert advisors to assist you with choosing a program and school that is right for you and getting started on your application.

*Disclaimer: The information found on this site is for general information purposes only and is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice.


bottom of page