Study Permit Tips for Success

Many Study Permits are refused. This is a fact. We are providing 4 main Study Permit tips to help you get a positive result. A CEO of multiple post-secondary schools (designated learning institutions DLIs) contacted Clarke Immigration Law to help with appeals to Federal Court. The rule is that when an IRCC Visa Office outside Canada refuses a Study Permit application, the applicant has 60 days to file a judicial review with the Court. To understand the scope of this problem, here is part of his email:

I guess you are correct – one too many education consultants out of India and China have been misleading international students thus causing these study permit refusals.  In 2018 alone, we had close to 100 refusals and about 100 more in 2019. While 2020 has been relatively slow due to Covid19, we are expecting a surge in applications towards the 3rd quarter of this year.

100s of refusals. To protect his privacy and the reputation of the DLIs, I am not disclosing the CEO’s personal information.

Here are a few tips to help international students get approvals:

Study Permit Tip #1: Avoid agents & immigration consultants

Not all agents are bad. The problem is that many are very bad and there are many scams out there. The Government of Canada published a blanket warning against using any agent in India due to the high levels of corruption and scams.

Study Permit tips

From a lawyer’s perspective, agents are great. Lawyers can charge more $$$ when a client has a previous refusal and they have had a bad experience with another representative. When I worked at a Bay Street firm in Toronto, the Managing Partner would charge +$5,000.00 CAD for a Study Permit when the client had been previously refused based on the poor quality work of an agent.

In general, agents cause significant problems and headaches for clients. If an international student is planning to spend $50,000.00 CAD on tuition, it makes sense to get a good lawyer to help you with the first step.

Full disclosure: our fees for a client with a previous refusal are higher than for clients who come to us at first instance; however, our fees are lower than other firms and I believe we provide the best quality service. We are constantly communicating with other firms and doing research online to ensure we adhere to the principles of our firm: EXPERIENCE, TRUST, VALUE. 

Study Permit Tip #2: Contact a lawyer whom you trust at the beginning

Every lawyer that I know provides consultations for potential clients. This is an opportunity for you to talk to someone who may (or may not) help you with your application. The lawyer is not committed to taking the file but they will, hopefully, give you good information to help you achieve a positive result.

Good lawyers may be able to fix your situation after a refusal, but you will end up wasting your time and paying more in the end. For example, we had a Nigerian student come to us after 2 refusals. She hired a consultant who did a terrible job. (In fact, after the first refusal, the consultant sent another Study Permit application to IRCC without even telling the student which, of course, led to a 2nd refusal. The student did not even know she had more than 1 refusal.) To read more about that case, please click here.  

The other side of this point, of course, is that not all immigration lawyers are good. I worked at a large immigration law firm in Winnipeg where the lawyers scam their clients. The scam looks like this:

  • The lawyer will ask for an initial retainer (eg. $2,000)
  • They will start to work on the Study Permit application
  • They will find a problem or issue
  • They will contact the client and let them know that this “new” issue will need to be addressed and they need more $$$

In my view, the above is also a scam, although it is legal.

How do you avoid this? Do your research. Here is a review from a Winnipeg Law Firm:


I am only writing this review to warn everyone about the kind of people they are. NONE of the work that I has asked was ever done. They didn’t even get back to me for more than a year. No phone call, no emails nothing. A year later they reach out to me and ask me to pay for work they hadn’t done. They will make up charges and expenses. “oh we spent 5 hours on reviewing your file” “oh we had to consult with another agency” and they will charge you for it!!




Based on my knowledge of this firm, the above review is probably accurate.

Study Permit Tip #3: Not all consultations are equal

Do your research. If you are an international student and you are keen to come and study in Canada, you have some research skills. Use them. Do the due diligence that you need to find someone you can trust. If the lawyer has a low score on Google Reviews and a reputation for making up fees, you may not be able to trust them.

The point of the consultation is for you to ask questions and get answers. If the lawyer is just giving you a sales pitch, you are wasting your time and money.

Study Permit Tip #4: Buyer Beware

The most frustrating situation is where a client hires an agent or a bad lawyer and it leads to a ban from Canada. This situation is worse than a refusal. The student cannot simply apply again. For example, where an agent puts false information (without even telling the client) and it leads to misrepresentation:


  •  (1) A permanent resident or a foreign national is inadmissible for misrepresentation

    • (a) for directly or indirectly misrepresenting or withholding material facts relating to a relevant matter that induces or could induce an error in the administration of this Act

The “indirectly” part of the above section relates to agents or representatives. For example, we had a client contact us after they received a Procedural Fairness Letter asking for information that was included in the application. In that case, the agent included false information to “help” the application and the student was at risk of being banned from Canada for 5 years and being inadmissible.

Thankfully, we may be able to fix these problems but at a significant cost to the client.

Follow IRCC’s Tips

Former IRCC Minister John McCallum has publically stated the importance of international students. Visa Officers want to approve Study Permit applications:

“International students are the best source of immigrants, in the sense that they’re educated, they’re young, they speak English or French, they know something of the country,” he said. “So we should be doing everything we can do to court them.”

If you submit a good application that is done well, you have a high chance of getting approval. We look forward to working with you to achieve your academic goals.

Hopefully the above is helpful information for you. We wish you the best towards your immigration goals, whatever they may be.

Success: Study Permit

As the saying goes, third time is the charm. An international student at Brandon University entered our office, almost in tears. She had hired an immigration consultation (bad choice, of course) who submitted a Study Permit on her behalf. It had been refused and she was told to leave Canada. The situation in her home country has deteriorated and her family’s business was greatly affected. As we are dealing with the effects of COVID-19, these situations are not uncommon. We were able to help her get back on track and she was able to resume her studies. Another successful application. I wish her all the best.

Study Permit

The description above is a brief summary of the case. Once we were retained as her representatives, we submitted an ATIP to review her GCMS Notes. We discovered her previous immigration consultant submitted two Study Permits on her behalf. This incompetent representative only told her about the first application. She submitted the same documents to IRCC and, unsurprisingly, the applicant received a second refusal.

Our Study Permit application was this applicant’s 3rd attempt. We were able to show sufficient documentation related to her family’s dire situation and evidence that she is a genuine student, despite her hardship. The IRCC Officer accepted our submissions and she was able to go back to Brandon University.

I remember meeting former Minister of IRCC John McCallum when he came to Winnipeg. He is, in fact, a former professor at the University of Manitoba. He has asserted many times that international students are strong applicants and IRCC should support their dreams of Permanent Resident status. In my view, many IRCC Officers want to support students; however, if they hire incompetent immigration consultants, it is very difficult for IRCC to help.