Federal Court judge slams Canadian immigration's demand to see Iranian master's student's grades

According to the judge, the applicant's intention to pursue a master's degree in business is reasonable based on her education and professional history. (izzet ugutmen/Shutterstock - image credit)
According to the judge, the applicant's intention to pursue a master's degree in business is reasonable based on her education and professional history. (izzet ugutmen/Shutterstock - image credit)

A Federal Court judge has described as "unintelligible" a Canadian visa officer's rejection of a B.C. study permit for an Iranian master's student because she failed to produce her grades.

Saba Ahadi applied for a study permit in January 2022 after being accepted to the master of business administration program at the University of Canada West (UCW) in Vancouver, B.C.

Ahadi also applied for a temporary resident visa for her five-year-old daughter, whom she intended to bring with her while her husband remained in Iran.

An immigration officer can authorize foreign nationals to study in Canada based on whether they meet certain conditions, among them requiring applicants to prove they have been accepted to a program and intend to leave the country afterward.

To support her application, the 31-year-old demonstrated she had fully paid tuition for the first year of her two-year program with the help of a scholarship.

She also showed she had $60,000 to fund her stay, real estate assets in Iran and travel insurance for her daughter.

Further, her husband and father provided "undertakings that they would cover her expenses" during her studies.

But her application was rejected on Feb. 2, 2022, as was her application for a temporary resident visa for her daughter.

According to the immigration officer's notes, Ahadi failed to provide recent education transcripts and diplomas. He found her proposed studies were unreasonable, and her ties to Iran were weak — conclusions that were "simply contrary to the evidence," writes Justice B. Richard Bell in his Jan. 5 judgment.

"I fail to appreciate what more the applicant could have done to establish that she meets the statutory requirements to enter Canada as a non-immigrant."

More required to justify studies as unreasonable: judge

According to the immigration officer's notes, included in the judgment, Ahadi's pursuit of a master's degree is "not reasonable," given her employment and education history. She also doesn't demonstrate how the program would be beneficial.

Since 2013, Ahadi has worked as a "consultant in business analysis" and as an "expert and analyzer of information technology," according to the judgment, after completing a bachelor's degree in banking affairs management at Tehran's Kharazmi University.

Google Maps
Google Maps

"When I consider the applicant's history of having acquired a bachelor's degree and related work experience, I find the conclusion that her proposed studies are not reasonable given her career path is unintelligible," Bell writes.

"Given the material before the officer, more was required to justify the observation that her proposed studies were not reasonable."

Failure to consider other factors

The officer also argues Ahadi's ties to her home country were weak because she is bringing her daughter, suggesting her "motivation to return [to Iran] will diminish."

This suggests a de facto refusal of all applicants who have family accompanying them to Canada, writes Bell, adding the officer failed to consider other factors reflecting Ahadi's personal and professional ties to Iran.

Among them, Bell notes, is that Ahadi's employer not only permitted her to take a leave for her studies but also suggested she could get a promotion upon her return.

This "lends support to the reasonableness of the career path and proposed course of study and further evidences the lack of intelligibility of the officer's decision," Bell writes.

The officer also notes Ahadi's socio-economic situation makes the purpose of her visit unreasonable.

But this conflicts with evidence, Bell writes, given Ahadi had paid tuition, received "a significant scholarship," was "gainfully employed," had assets in Iran and financial support from parents.

Bell also addresses the absence of transcripts and diplomas.

"With respect, this requirement imposed by the officers seems rather unintelligible given the number of years that have passed since the applicant completed her bachelor's program, the fact she offers proof of acceptance into the master's program and the fact that she has been awarded a scholarship."

"I ask rhetorically, 'What difference does knowledge of her marks make to any part of the task being undertaken by the officer?'

"The answer, in these circumstances, is, in my view, 'none.'"

Ahadi's application will be sent back for redetermination with another visa officer.