How to Deal with Visa Refusals?

Things happen. When a refusal letter arrives, take a deep breath, and review the letter and reasons for refusals. Please keep in mind that initial refusal is not always the final refusal. There are different ways to address the unpleasant and frustrating situation.

ATIP Online Request

For start, you can submit an Access to Information Request online. Within approximately 30 days of submitting the request, you will receive full notes and detailed reasons for the refusal. You need to read into the reasons and see whether there are any mistakes made on the officer’s side.

Please note that only Canadian citizens and permanent residents can make a request under the Access to Information Act. However, even if you cannot make a request by yourself, with written consent, you can ask a representative to make a request on your behalf.

Request for Reconsideration

A request for reconsideration is an informal request submitted to the decision-making officer of a refused application. A visa officer has the discretion to review and accept such a request. There are some programs that explicitly provide for reconsideration requests, such as OntarioImmigrant Nominee Program (OINP). Under OINP, an applicant is required to send a request for reconsideration within 30 days of the date of refusal.

For examples, requests for reconsideration could be made when

  • a clear mistake/oversight is made by the officer,
  • certain documents are neglected in the application package, or
  • new circumstance occurs after initial application.

Re-application

If your application gets refused, you can apply again at any time. However, before you re-apply, please make sure that you have analyzed your case and reasons for refusal. You should only re-apply if you can include some new information that was not included in the previous application, or your circumstance has changed after the initial application. If you simply resubmit the exact same application package, your application will probably get rejected again.

Judicial Review

You can bring a judicial review to the Federal Court of Canada when your application gets refused. This should be used as a last resort. It is very costly and a lawyer must apply for judicial review on your behalf.

Different deadlines are imposed for judicial reviews. For instance, if it is a refusal of a claim for refugee protection, you must file an application for judicial review to a Federal Court within 15 days after the Immigration and Refugee Board (“IRB”) decision was issued.

The role of the court is not to grant you a visa or permit, but to decide whether to allow or dismiss your judicial review. If the court agrees with the original decision of the immigration officer, the decision stays. Otherwise, the court will return the case to the officer to be reconsidered.  

Last but not least, every case carries its own merits. Sometimes it could be complicated to figure out the proper process. If you are not sure how to deal with a refusal, consider reaching out to an immigration lawyer for assistance.