On March 2nd, 2020, 24-year-old Ardeshir Hamedani was denied a Canadian study permit. He applied a second time on May 6th, attempting to address the visa officer’s concerns. Again, he received a refusal. Then, on June 17th, 2021, Mr. Hamedani’s most recent refusal was successfully overturned with the help of Pax Law.
Though Mr. Hamedani is an Iranian citizen, he had been living and studying in Malaysia on a student pass for several years – he’d attended secondary school there and received a diploma as well as a Bachelor’s degree in Fashion Design from institutions in the country.
After an internship at Biji Bjiji Ethical Fashion, the company offered Mr. Hamedani a promotion, with the condition that he must first complete a Fashion Marketing certificate. In order to fulfil this requirement, Mr. Hamedani applied to the prestigious Blanche Macdonald Center in Vancouver, Canada. He was readily accepted and had already paid $7,400 towards his tuition by the time he submitted his first study permit application. His parents in Iran and his aunt in the Netherlands promised to provide financial support for the duration of his studies. Despite all this, Mr. Hamedani’s application was refused not once, but twice.
The second visa officer – the respondent of this case, represented by Brett J. Nash – concluded that Mr. Hamedani would not leave Canada at the end of his stay. He believed Mr. Hamedani’s proposed studies were not reasonable in light of his previous qualifications and expressed concerns about Mr. Hamedani’s ability to complete the program.
In response, Mr. Mortazavi, founder of Pax Law and Mr. Hamedani’s legal representative, argued that the officer had not been reasonable in his judgements. Honourable Justice Bell agreed. In his reasons, Judge Bell stated that had the officer didn’t display reasonableness when they asked why Biji Bjiji did not apply for a work permit on Mr. Hamedani’s behalf, even though Mr. Hamedani was not yet hired. Judge Bell wrote that if the officer had “engaged fully with the materials, he or she would have found the answer to the very question posed”. Similarly, Judge Bell agreed that it was unreasonable for the visa officer to determine that there was no information provided as to why Mr. Hamedani did not apply to a similar, more affordable program. As Judge Bell pointed out, Mr. Hamedani had a section in his application titled: “The reason why I’m not pursuing a similar program in my country of residence”.
Mr. Mortazavi also argued that the officer’s analysis of Mr. Hamedani’s application was not justified, transparent, or intelligible. Here again, Judge Bell concurred. His Honour found that the officer’s written concerns about Mr. Hamedani’s potential unwillingness to leave Canada after finishing his course of study lacking intelligibility. As Mr. Mortazavi illustrated, Mr. Hamedani had explicitly stated his career goals of returning to Iran following his work experience in Malaysia; he had a standing job offer in a country that was not Canada, and had no family members, immediate or otherwise, in the country. Judge Bell found the officer to be unintelligible when they stated that they were worried about Mr. Hamedani’s ability to complete his academic studies. There was simply no evidence to substantiate that claim.
In his closing remarks, Judge Bell concluded that not only did the totality of the officer’s reasons demonstrate a lack of justification, transparency, and intelligibility, but that even one would have constituted an overturned decision. He wrote: “Although I have identified four aspects of the decision that I find troubling, I do not consider my efforts to be a treasure hunt for error. I find that those four areas canvassed by me, when taken together, and, quite frankly, even individually, demonstrate a lack of justification, transparency and intelligibility in the decision-making process. The officer failed to engage with the evidence before him or her.”
Ultimately, Honourable Justice Bell overturned the decision for refusal and asked that Mr. Hamedani’s application be submitted to a different visa officer. A big win for Pax Law, and an even bigger win for Mr. Hamedani.