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Federal Court Overturns IRCC Work Permit Rejections Due to Language Proficiency

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Federal Court of Canada heard two recent cases revolving around work permit applications. In which IRCC officer rejected the applications based on the applicant’s language proficiency.

The first case is Mehri Hosseinibay. An Iranian citizen, who sought a judicial review of a visa officer’s decision to deny her work permit application under the TFWP. Mehri had applied for a position as a Construction Project Coordinator at a landscaping company. And her employer had secured a positive Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) for the role. However, they declined her work permit application because she needed to demonstrate the necessary language skills to perform the job.

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The court found it unclear how the officer determined that she needed to gain the necessary language abilities for the role. Especially considering there was no specific language requirement for the position. Furthermore, though not obligatory, Mehri had submitted her IELTS English language test results. Which indicated she had a modest to intermediate level of proficiency in English. Additionally, her employer had attested that she met the job requirements.

Consequently, the court concluded that the officer’s decision to refuse her visa was unreasonable. As the officer had failed to clarify or justify how the evidence presented by Mehri supported the claim that she couldn’t perform the job.

Federal Court Cases Highlight the Importance of Language Proficiency in Work Permit Applications

In the second case, Santokh Singh, an Indian citizen, had been employed as a farm laborer. He received and accepted a job offer from a British Columbia employer under the title “farm worker”. And applied for a work permit under the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP).

The job offer had no formal educational prerequisites, and the job duties involved:

  • Operating farm machinery.
  • Examining produce for quality.
  • Preparing produce for the market.
  • Following the directions of a farm supervisor.


However, the visa officer sent Santokh a procedural fairness letter, stating that his application lacked sufficient evidence to demonstrate his language abilities for carrying out these duties. Specifically, the letter pointed out that the job required a certain level of reading and comprehension for operating machinery and understanding safety procedures.

In response, Santokh submitted various supporting documents to prove his English language proficiency. These included evidence of completing a diploma in software application in English, certificates from his high school and college, where the primary language of instruction was English, and demonstrating essential reading and writing skills. Additionally, he provided a supportive letter from a local business owner, affirming the applicant’s knowledge of farm equipment maintenance. Nevertheless, they rejected the application.

Ultimately, the court ruled that the officer’s decision, when considered alongside the evidence provided by the applicant, was neither clear nor reasonable.

These cases emphasize the significance of visa officers assessing an applicant’s language proficiency, even when there are no specific language requirements for the position and the employer deems the applicant qualified.

As a result, it is crucial to include sufficient evidence of your proficiency in English or French when applying for a work permit, even if it’s optional or may seem unnecessary.

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