Responding to queries from The PIE News, a spokesperson said that visa applications are “considered on a case-by-case basis”, and that decisions are “made by highly-trained officers who carefully and systematically assess each application” against the criteria set out in the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.
“The approval rate for study permit applications from applicants residing in French-speaking countries in Africa is comparable to the approval rate for all other African countries,” the spokesperson highlighted.
Sector stakeholders have warned that high visa refusal rates among priority markets, particularly in Francophone Africa, is an “urgent challenge” Canada needs to address.
Inability to prove applicants can support themselves while in Canada or that they can afford their studies are the most common reasons for refusal, the IRCC spokesperson noted.
Other frequent reasons are the failure to submit a complete application with application fees, to show that they are a genuine student, and that they will return to their home country. Fradulent documents are also a frequent reason for denial, IRCC said.
“During the pandemic, we have continued to strengthen the Francophone Immigration Strategy”
The agency also said it was important to note that Québec has a higher minimum amount of funds for foreign national students to support themselves than the rest of Canada. The province requires over $13,000 per person aged 18, while in other provinces they need $10,000.
IRCC has “taken significant steps towards supporting Francophone students and Francophone immigration more broadly”, the spokesperson continued.
In 2021, IRCC introduced three immigration streams for French-speaking applicants.
Additionally, some 14 Welcoming Francophone Communities were selected in 2019 to “strengthen their capacity to welcome French-speaking newcomers”, and it has committed to a target of 4.4% Francophone immigrants settling in Welcoming Francophone Communities outside Québec by 2023.
“IRCC’s Meeting Our Objectives: Francophone Immigration Strategy 2018-2023 showcases a suite of initiatives to strengthen Francophone immigration and the vitality of Francophone minority communities,” the spokesperson added.
“During the pandemic, we have continued to strengthen the Francophone Immigration Strategy by implementing targeted initiatives, such as creating streams for French-speaking permanent residents under the temporary resident to permanent resident pathway, which is aimed at essential workers and international students in Canada.”
Responding to concerns around a lack of in-country visa processing in Francophone Africa, IRCC said it is “[continuing] to modernise Canada’s immigration system”, by digitising documents so applications can be processed remotely by IRCC employees across the global network.
The global network ensures applications are “processed as efficiently as possible”.
“Regardless of geography, all decisions are made in accordance with the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and Regulations and we continue to ensure that clients have access to services close to home,” they added.
IRCC also elaborated on the Excel-based Chinook system that stakeholders raised concerns that it could be causing increases in rejections.
“Chinook does not fundamentally change the way applications are processed”
The agency explained that the system “streamlines the administrative steps that would otherwise be required in the processing of applications”.
“Immigration application information is extracted from the client’s submitted application and presented within Chinook, allowing IRCC officers to be more efficient,” they said.
“Chinook does not fundamentally change the way applications are processed, and it is always the officer that makes the decision and not the Chinook tool.”