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Canadian Study Visa Denials and Possible Linkage to Systemic Bias towards Africans

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The quest to leave Africa for countries believed to be better is rising amongst African youths. The exodus is an expected phenomenon, as every human’s innate desire is to go after things or places they consider better than what they have or are.

In the last decade, many countries in Africa have experienced an economic downturn that has unfortunately set the stage for the growth of societal maladies, moral decadence, and irrational desperation for an exit.

In 2019, Nigeria was listed as the 13th largest source country for Canadian higher institutions according to the Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). In 2020, Nigeria became the 5th leading source of new Permanent Residents immigrants to Canada, behind India, China, the Philippines, and the US. For many, leaving their African countries for Canada will allow them to experience better systems or work in better conditions. The most frequent requests immigration consultants receive are from African students. A testament to young Africans’ burning thirst for success is the quest to seek quality education outside the shores of Africa – a tedious process characterized by extensive research, writing, and of course, spending. However, it is pathetic that despite the efforts being made to ensure the transition to these “greener pastures”, there appears to be a discreet bias in the immigration system.

In their pursuit of greener pastures, African applicants are subjected to demanding immigration processes structured to work against them. This article will factually dissect the dilemma around the high rejection rate of Canadian study visa denials and the possibility of a racially motivated system in existence.

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Every young African looking to come to Canada must apply for a visa. The requirements for a student visa include proof of financial means, international passport, appropriate Canada visa application form, admission into an institution in Canada, and many more. There are several reasons why applicants are denied visas, chief of which is the inability to meet the required criteria for approvals. However, many Canadian immigration consultants will tell you of the increased and continuous denials of the student visa applications submitted by Africans. It is as though Canada keeps saying “we want lots of immigrants, but no, not from Africa”.

It’s been found that a student from India or China with a similar background to a student from Africa is more likely to get their visa approved. Why is this so? Is there a bias in the system?

According to IRCC data of 2019, three out of four African study visa applications to Canada between January to May 2019 were denied. Typically, the reasons for rejection include:

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  • Suspicions that student may not return upon completing studies
  • Lack of funds
  • Inadequate proof of home ties

While these may seem good on paper, there are thousands of cases that do their best to meet and surpass the requirements but still end up rejected.

In 2018, Canada refused visas to dozens of researchers, mostly from Africa. These researchers were poised to attend an Artificial Intelligence (AI) event in Montreal. Despite submitting letters of recommendation from extremely credible individuals and organizations, they were denied. Despite efforts by the concerned authorities, the rejection rates did not change in 2019 when the same conference was held in Montreal, and of course, the majority of rejected applicants again were from Africa.

It is even more infuriating that the reasons provided for the visa rejections are usually vague and never convincing. They end up leaving applicants and immigration consultants with more questions. In many cases, these students are directed to other countries in Europe or Australia get their applications approved with ease. While these might seem like normal occurrences without a hidden agenda, a consistent recurrence of this rejection amongst Africans suggests otherwise. The immigration system needs to do better with their responses and reasons for rejections.

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Study permits approval rates have become a significant hindrance to the actualization of the dreams of African immigrants. The Canadian immigration system needs to be more flexible and thorough while still maintaining a standard approach to ensuring that suspicions of fraud are properly dealt with.

'Tunde Omotoye heads the travel desk at Naija News. He writes on Immigration, Studying Abroad & Tech Skills | He is a CICC Licensed Immigration Consultant.

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