Introduction and Summary of the Case
In the case of Roudehchianahmadi v Canada (Citizenship and Immigration), 2023 FC 626, the Applicant was a citizen of Iran. She had applied for a study permit to study in Canada with her husband accompanying her. They had no children but had family members in Iran. The Applicant had previously earned a Master’s Degree in Architectural Engineering and a Bachelor of Science in Information Technology from Iranian universities. She had been employed as an Architectural Engineer since 2019.
In her application for a study permit, the Applicant stated that she had sought to advance her education by pursuing a two-year Master’s Degree in Energy Management at the New York Institute of Technology (NYIT) campus in Vancouver, BC. The estimated tuition for one academic year at NYIT was USD $21,207.85, and the Applicant had prepaid a USD $7,781.85 tuition deposit. According to her application, her employer had offered to promote her to the role of “Senior Architect,” contingent upon the completion of a Master’s degree in the field of Energy Management from a developed country. The employer had also offered a scholarship of approximately CAD $3,250.00 in return for her continued employment following the completion of the program.
The Applicant’s study permit application was refused by the Officer in a decision made on June 18, 2022. The reasons for the refusal were that the Applicant’s funds and assets were deemed insufficient to support herself and any accompanying family member during their stay in Canada. Additionally, the purpose of her visit to Canada was considered inconsistent with a temporary stay based on the information provided in her application.
The Court’s Analysis of the Visa Officer’s Decision Regarding the Applicant’s Funds and Assets
The Applicant argues that the Officer overlooked relevant evidence, including evidence of her assets, and based the decision on subjective speculation and unfounded generalizations. She asserts that the Officer failed to provide justification for concluding that her ability to support herself and her husband was insufficiently substantiated. According to the Applicant, the evidence of available funds was adequate to support them for the first year of her studies, which aligns with the Minister’s operational instructions and guidelines on study permits. Citing various court cases (Cervjakova v Canada (MCI), Chantale v Canada (MCI), Barril v Canada (MCI), Naeem v Canada (MCI), Motlagh v Canada (MCI), Lingepo v Canada (MCI), Jalilvand v Canada (MCI)), the Applicant highlights that supporting funds for the initial year is the requirement.
The Respondent acknowledges that the guidelines state that student applicants only need to demonstrate financial sufficiency for the first year of studies, regardless of the program’s duration. However, the Respondent argues that officers are not obligated to follow the guidelines, and it is reasonable for an officer to reject a study permit application if the applicant fails to demonstrate sufficient funds for the entire program. Citing court cases (Ibekwe v Canada (MCI), Ocran v Canada (MCI), Onyeka v Canada (MCI), Kavugho-Mission v Canada (MCI)), the Respondent supports the position that officers have the discretion to consider the entire program’s financial requirements when making a decision.
The Minister’s Operational Guidelines for visa officers considering study permits state that:
Students are required to demonstrate financial sufficiency for only the first year of studies, regardless of the duration of the course or program of studies in which they are enrolled. In other words, a single student entering a four-year degree program with an annual tuition fee of $15,000 must demonstrate funds of $15,000 to satisfy the requirements, and not the full $60,000 which would be required for four years. Officers should be satisfied however that the probability of funding for future years does exist (i.e., parents are employed); scholarship is for more than one yearImmigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), Operational instructions and guidelines, Study Permits: Assessing the application
Consequence and Result of the Case
The discretion granted to an officer allows them to make judgments regarding the probability of an applicant securing funding for future years of their studies. This assessment becomes relevant when an applicant has depleted their existing assets and has not presented any alternative sources of funding to cover the remaining duration of their program. In such cases, it is within an officer’s purview to conclude that the applicant has not adequately demonstrated their ability to sustain their studies financially.
However, in the present matter, a closer examination of the Officer’s reasoning reveals a lack of meaningful engagement with the evidence that indicated the potential for the applicant to obtain future income. It appears that the Officer did not thoroughly consider or give due weight to the information provided by the applicant regarding possible avenues of funding. By overlooking this evidence, the Officer may have unjustly dismissed the applicant’s ability to secure financial resources for the continuation of her studies.
Furthermore, the Officer’s reliance on the general notion of an “unstable economic climate” in Iran seems misplaced and fails to consider the applicant’s personal circumstances. It is important for an officer to take into account individual factors that may enable an applicant to overcome economic challenges and finance their studies. By disregarding these personal factors, the Officer may have unreasonably ignored the applicant’s potential to fund her education.
In light of these observations, it appears that the Officer’s decision lacked thoroughness and failed to provide a comprehensive evaluation of the applicant’s financial situation. By not adequately grappling with the evidence presented and disregarding relevant personal factors, the decision may be deemed unreasonable in this context.
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