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Three in Four Africans Applying for Student Visas in Canada this Year Have Been Rejected

New analysis of data from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada shows that three in four African students (75%) who applied for study permits in Canada between January and May this year were rejected. The rate is much higher than the global rejection rate of 39%. The figure for rejection of Africans applicants did not include applications for study permit extensions or withdrawn applications.

Typically, reasons for rejection include a lack of funds and fraudulent applications. But it also includes a discretionary call which has long hobbled foreign visa applications of Africans: the suspicion that applicants will not return to the home country.

While there is no official change in policy towards Africans, the analysis notes that “in many cases, the refusal rate has increased dramatically in recent years.” For example, there’s a view that the applications from Nigeria have been particularly “colored” by the increased rates of pending asylum claims by Nigerians in Canada—now the highest for any nationality—over the past few years. Matching that trend, rejection of Nigerian applications have grown from 55% in 2013 to 81% in 2018.

These findings follow on the heels of a joint All-Party Parliamentary Group report by British lawmakers which showed applicants from African countries face far more visa challenges than applicants from other continents. Indeed, African applicants are more than twice as likely to be refused a United Kingdom (UK) visa than applicants from any other part of the world, the report found.

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The high rate of applications for African students also comes amid a growing spate of migration of African professionals to Canada through its skilled workers program as it combats an aging population problem. Canada is a particularly popular choice for Nigerians: the number of Nigerians admitted through Canada’s Express Entry program grew 30-fold between 2015 and 2017 and is on pace to increase. Ironically, several migrants have made the move in order to ensure their children can access better educational facilities and standards.

For their part, applicants from Morocco and Senegal will likely experience an ease in rejection rates as both countries have been added to a list of countries from which study permit applications are fast-tracked as Canada targets more Francophone applications.

While those who can afford to do so often pursue the expensive option of seeking foreign education at university level, millions of students in some of Africa’s biggest countries, especially Nigeria, are stuck in limbo. With major capacity deficits, local universities cannot cater to large—and growing—student populations meaning that a majority of university applicants in Nigeria fail to gain admission.

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