The Applicants sought to set aside a decision from a Visa Officer in London rejecting their application for permanent residency under the provincial nominee class. The Application was dismissed.

The Court found that it was reasonable for the federal government to conduct an independent assessment of the Applicant’s ability to become economically established in Canada vis-à-vis her modest language skills. This decision once again highlights the importance of superior language skills as a factor of immigration.

Syeda Nadia Shaukat (“the Applicant”) was named in a nomination certificate by the Province of Saskatchewan. The Visa Officer received the application for permanent residence in connection to the nomination in November 2013. The Applicant did not submit her job offer or results of her International English Language Testing System scores. The application identified her current and intended occupation as “Beautician / Hair Stylist” but did not include a letter of offer from a Saskatchewan employer. An initial assessment of the application revealed that the Applicant’s English skills were borderline and not sufficient to become economically established in Canada.

In June 2014, the Visa Officer sent a pre-refusal email stating the Applicant did not have the ability to do the job and that she was not in receipt of a job offer by a Saskatchewan employer and that the Applicants had to upgrade their skills before being able to find work.

In response, the Applicant provided a job offer letter and stated that she is improving her English language skills.

In its decision on October 17, 2014, the Officer said that he/she was not satisfied that the Applicant had the language skills to become economically established in Canada. The GCMS notes indicate that the officer considered the job offer to be in the cleaning industry and that she does not have experience in that industry or as a manager. The GCMS notes state that with moderate English language speaking and writing skills, basic listening and reading skills and a lack of experience relevant to the job offer the Officer was not satisfied that the applicant had demonstrated her ability to become economically established notwithstanding the ongoing support of the Province of Saskatchewan.

Issues:

  • Did the Visa Officer err by mischaracterizing the language proficiency?
  • Was the Visa Officer’s failure to defer to the province’s position of continued support for the applicant unreasonable?
  • Were the reasons underlying the decision sufficient?

Analysis:

The Court was persuaded that although the Officer stated that the applicant’s IELTS scores were at or above minimum recommended levels, but despite this, the Officer was not satisfied that the skill level was sufficient to allow the applicant to become economically established within the meaning of section 87 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations. That reasoning was reasonable. In addition the Court noted that the Applicant should have raised the language scores as an issue to the pre-refusal email to the Applicant. She did not do that and the fact that she was unrepresented then does not change that the issue should have been raised.

The Applicant argued that the Officer should have accepted the province’s view that she could become economically established. The Respondent argues that the Officer had the jurisdiction to do that as it exercises the final selection authority. Section 87(3) of the IRPR expressly allows a visa officer to substitute their evaluation of the likelihood of economic establishment in Canada if they find the certificate of nomination is not a sufficient indicator of said economic establishment. The Court agreed that the Officer had no obligation to defer to the views expressed by the Saskatchewan Government and did not err in reaching a different conclusion in this case.

The Applicant also argues that the Officer did not provide sufficient reasons to the response of the province to the pre-refusal letter, where it commented on the job demand in the industry. The Court concluded that the province’s response was general and did not link job availability and the Applicant’s ability to become economically established. The fact that the Applicant met the province’s minimum language requirements is not determinative of economic establishment.

The application for judicial review was therefore dismissed.

To read the full decision please click here.