Federal Court overturns study permit denial due to immigration officer’s unreasonable assessment

The officer denied the application despite proof of financial capacity

Federal Court overturns study permit denial due to immigration officer’s unreasonable assessment

The Federal Court has overturned the denial of a study permit in favour of an Iranian national due to the immigration officer’s unreasonable assessment of the applicant’s financial capacity and family and economic ties.

In Jalali v. Canada (Citizenship and Immigration), 2024 FC 603, Sara Jalali sought to pursue a two-year business administration and commerce program at College Canada in Montreal. Her application also included her husband, Bijan Arabameri, who applied for a spousal work permit, and their twelve-year-old daughter, Aisa Arabameri, who applied for a visitor's visa. The immigration officer had ruled that Jalali's demonstrated financial resources and family ties were insufficient to support her educational goals and her family's temporary stay in Canada.

The Federal Court noted that when conducting a judicial review of the merits of an administrative decision, other than a review related to a breach of natural justice and/or the duty of procedural fairness, the presumptive standard of review is reasonableness. Furthermore, the court explained that a reasonable decision displays justification, transparency and intelligibility with a focus on the decision, including its justification.

Applying the reasonableness standard, the Federal Court found that the officer’s assessment was unreasonable. Jalali had provided substantial proof of funds, showing more than the necessary financial capacity to cover tuition and living expenses for her family. Despite this, the officer concluded that the financial documents were potentially for show and not indicative of actual available resources.

In addition to financial concerns, the officer doubted the temporary nature of Jalali's stay, which was influenced by her decision to bring her immediate family to Canada. The court disagreed with this assessment, emphasizing that the officer had not adequately considered the strong family and economic ties Jalali and her family maintained in Iran. These included documented employment, asset ownership, and familial responsibilities that indicated a high likelihood of their return to Iran.

The court also highlighted a breach of procedural fairness, pointing out that Jalali was not allowed to address the credibility concerns that the officer raised. This oversight contributed to the decision’s reversal.

In conclusion, the court deemed the original refusal of the study permit unjustified and lacking in transparency and intelligibility. It has ordered the case to be returned for redetermination by a different immigration officer, ensuring a fresh evaluation of Jalali’s application under fairer and more reasonable conditions.

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