Africans are most likely to be denied study visas – Report

Three quarters of African students who applied for enrolment in Canadian universities in the first five months of 2019 were rejected, according to data from Canadian migration authorities.

The figures, published by student immigration news website Polestar and based on data from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), show that 75% of African students’ applications were rejected compared to the global rejection average of 39%.

Study permits are denied for reasons including suspicion that an applicant may not return home after completion of their studies, inability to raise money for fees and living expenses, or when an application is deemed to be fraudulent, according to Polestar.

Security threat

Applications can also be rejected on suspicions that a student posed a security threat to Canada, or on health grounds.

International students applying to study in Canada must first obtain admission into an institution allowed to host foreign learners, as well as pay full tuition fees for the first year of study. They are also required to purchase a Guaranteed Investment Certificate of US$10,000.

Algeria had the highest number of students denied study permits by the North American country, with nearly nine out of 10 of its applicants, an equivalent of 86% of applications, being rejected. This was followed by Cameroon and Nigeria with 82% and 81% of rejections respectively.

Other African countries on the list of countries that feature in the top 25 in terms of study visa applications to Canada globally, include the Democratic Republic of the Congo with a 75% refusal rate, Senegal with 71%, Kenya with 70% and Ghana with 62%.


The country with the highest acceptance rate was Morocco with a rejection rate of only 51%.

Morocco and Senegal are among those to be added to the Student Direct Stream visa category starting this month. Under the system, applications are fast-tracked and processed in under three weeks, according to a press statement issued by the IRCC on 30 August.

According to an announcement made by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Minister Ahmed Hussen in June last year, Kenya (where only 30% of applicants were accepted) could also be added to the list.

Students from the countries of China, India, Vietnam and the Philippines have been enjoying access to Canadian universities under the fast-tracking system since 2018.

“By providing fast, reliable processing of study permit applications, Canada is better equipped to compete in attracting the best and the brightest from around the world,” the IRCC said.

Benefits of international students

“IRCC recognises the tremendous economic, cultural and social benefits that international students bring to Canada. We are committed to improving client service for all applicants, including students, as we continue to find new and efficient ways to reduce processing times,” said the minister.

Study permits from Canada are typically processed in around three to 18 weeks depending on the category into which the IRCC has placed a country, with applications from the Socialist Republic of Vietnam taking the maximum of 18 weeks to process.

Outside of Africa (and not on the top 25 list), Afghanistan had the highest refusals in the period of study with 95% rejections, compared to Japan and South Korea with a low rejection rate of 4%.

Afghanistan has maintained an average refusal rate of above 90% since 2017, pointing to security fears as a basis for denial of a study visa.

In contrast, European countries such as the Republic of Ireland and the Slovak Republic had low rejection rates of 5% and 7% respectively, while the Netherlands and Greece enjoyed a 90% acceptance rate.