Posted on - Sep 25, 2018

By Victor Ing

Victor Ing

As a Vancouver immigration lawyer, I often meet with clients asking for advice on how to overcome a refused application or even two or more refusals. You might be wondering why somebody would wait to ask for advice after receiving a refusal or why they would make unsuccessful application after application expecting a different result.

This frequently occurs when there is a lack of understanding about the application process and how an initial application might have been deficient. Below are tips you may find helpful to get to “yes” for anyone planning on re-applying for a visa.

If you have ever made an unsuccessful immigration application to come to Canada or know somebody who has, you are probably familiar with these words that are found at the end of refusal letters: “You are welcome to reapply if you feel that you can respond” to the concerns that are listed in the letter. Clients are often genuinely surprised to learn that their application was not successful and are eager to act on this instruction to re-apply as quickly as possible. This can be a big mistake. Making several applications over a short period of time can hurt your chances of ever being approved for a visa.

Unclear Reasons for Refusal

The most common mistake clients make, that we see as Canadian immigration lawyers, is to re-apply for a visa without fully understanding the reasons they were refused in the first place. Refusal letters are written as form letters and usually only provide the most general reasons for the refusal.

If you have received a generic refusal letter and do not understand the specific concerns of the visa officer, it is worthwhile to delay a further application until you can learn more so that your next application can address the concerns.

To fully understand the reasoning behind a refusal, it is advisable to obtain the notes of the officer who refused your application to gain insight about how to address his or her concerns in a subsequent application. These electronic notes can be accessed by requesting the Global Case Management System or “GCMS” notes in your file. When officers enter these notes in the GCMS they cannot later be altered and they provide the most insight into what the officer was thinking when refusing the application.

More Work, Not Less

When re-applying for a visa that has already been refused it is always advisable to provide more information rather than less, but you must also take care to ensure that any new information is consistent with past application materials.

I have seen clients make the mistake of providing less or even inconsistent information in a subsequent application because they become overly focused on addressing the specific reasons for the initial refusal rather than strengthening the overall application.

This is a very poor approach because each new application must stand on its own and you should not expect the same visa officer that refused your prior application to review a subsequent application. For these reasons, it is not uncommon for a first application to be refused based on one set of reasons, while a second or subsequent application is refused on a different basis. It is your responsibility to ensure that each application made is accurate, complete, and provides all the information necessary for a visa officer to grant the application. A visa officer is never obliged to tell you what information you need to submit to be approved.

Where’s the Proof?

Clients frequently ask me what sort of documents they need to submit to support their application. Sometimes when I give my advice to provide a certain document, I am told that they do not think it is necessary.

Applicants often do not see the value of providing corroborating documents because they believe that some facts about their case are obvious and wonder why a visa officer would not just believe them when they say something. Sometimes clients think that certain matters are private and do not need to be explained.

However, what is obvious to you may not be obvious to a visa officer who does not know you beyond reviewing paperwork about you. Most statements you make will become more compelling when they can be supported by independent, corroborating documentation. Similarly, most statements will carry more weight and credibility if they provide as much detail as possible, even if you might feel uncomfortable going into such detail.

For example, I recently worked with a client who was refused a student visa. He had previously studied in Canada but was unable to finish his program of study due to family problems that caused him considerable stress. He eventually returned to his home country and later submitted a student visa application to resume his studies in Canada.

The application was refused, in part, because he did not provide any supporting documents or give sufficient detail about why he could not successfully finish his studies the first time he was in Canada. Upon reviewing the GCMS notes for refusal it was clear that the visa officer did not take the client’s word that he was facing family problems and insisted on receiving medical or other documents to explain his troubles. This was a situation where the applicant did not submit enough information because he felt his explanation about his personal struggles would be believed without any supporting material and because he felt it was awkward to explain the family problems he was facing at the time.

There is never any guarantee that a subsequent application for a visa or permit will be successful. Conversely, just because you have been refused before does not mean you will not be successful if you re-apply. Preparation is the key to success. Before re-applying for a visa you should ensure that you understand the reasons for the initial refusal and gather additional supporting documents to respond to the visa officer’s concerns. In this process, you need to ensure that all your new information is consistent with prior application materials and make sure that you provide sufficient details to make your case for why you meet criteria for your application to be approved.


Victor Ing is a Vancouver immigration lawyer at Sas & Ing Immigration Law Centre in Vancouver, BC Canada, and provides a full range of immigration services.

To learn more about immigrating to Canada, becoming a permanent Canadian resident or bringing your family to Canada, email Victor Ing or call him at 1-604-689-5444.

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