Nigerian students who want to study in Canada may need a backup plan.
An academic online portal, THISDAY told that a study commissioned by the Department of Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) identified bias and discrimination as the primary reason behind high visa rejection rates among Nigerians and other African nationals: only 12 per cent reportedly managed to get applications authorized.
“Since 2017, I have been tracking the Canadian study visa approval rate for applicants from Africa. The rate has consistently been plunging. The situation became very alarming when I received the statistics for the Canada study visa approval rate for Nigeria, which showed a dismal approval rate of 11.8%,”Gideon Christian, Professor of Artificial Intelligence and Law at the University of Calgary, was quoted saying.
The discovery prompted Christian, head of the African Scholars Initiative (ASI-Canada), to take action. He enlisted the help of other Nigerian professors and graduate students in Canada to write a letter to the country’s immigration minister, Sean Fraser, requesting that the case be thoroughly investigated. Christian decided he had to act in whatever capacity he could to protect the possibilities of Nigerian students coming to Canada after receiving a quick and unsatisfactory response.
“I wrote a letter to the Canadian House of Commons Committee on Citizenship and Immigration, drawing their attention to the report and requesting a hearing to address the issues raised in the report,”
he asserted after the first letter failed to answer the steadily increasing visa refusal rates among African applicants sufficiently.
The Canadian Association of Professional Immigration Consultants (CAPIC-ACCPI) commissioned the study, which is an umbrella organisation for qualified immigration consultants who assist clients of all countries with their Canadian immigration. Christian expressed concern about the recurring unsatisfactory outcomes for successful study permit applications in visa offices processing paperwork for Nigerian applicants.
According to reports, the recent spike in declines began in 2019, when an IRCC analysis found that three out of every four African students (75 per cent) who applied for Canadian study permits into the country between January and May of that year were denied, with Nigerians among those who faced high-volume visa rejections.
Christian, on the other hand, stated that Japan’s visa approval percentage in the most recent IRCC report was 97 per cent, demonstrating the astonishing disparity in application success between different nationalities. The investigation also revealed a troubling bias among immigration officers, who portray Nigerians as “corrupt” and “untrustworthy,” and refer to African countries as “the dirty 30.”
The rash of visa rejections faced by Nigerian students is all the more confusing in light of Canada’s proof of English language competency exemption for Nigeria, which should have resulted in higher approval rates, according to Christian.
A hearing before a committee of the Canadian House of Commons, on the other hand, is a step in the right direction.
“I used my attendance before the committee to make a strong case for Nigeria and Africa. We are hopeful that the committee will make a solid recommendation to address these challenges.”
The increasing number of visa rejections for Africans appears to be hurting family members as well. Lilian Ndiego arrived just in time to be with her son, Tevin Obiga, before he died in Winnipeg’s St. Boniface Hospital.
According to TUKO.co.ke, Ndiego was first denied a single-entry temporary residence visa because Canadian authorities were apparently dubious of her resources to support her dying son in the country and afraid that she would remain after her visa ended.
The move infuriated Winnipeg’s African community, who urged the Canadian Embassy in Kenya to grant Ndiego a visa on compassionate grounds. Her visa was finally approved on February 15, 2022, and she was allowed to visit her son, a computer science student at the University of Manitoba.
Legal Disclaimer: This article is provided for information purposes only.