Appealing Canadian visa refusal: lack of travel history

Inadequate travel history has long been thought to be a valid reason for Canada visitor visa refusal by the general public. While this fact is never considered in isolation and authorities do review other relevant factors, not having travelled outside the country does sometimes cause visitor visa applications to be rejected – unrightfully so.

If an applicant's lack of travel history is listed as the primary reason why their application had been refused, then that refusal can be successfully appealed in the Federal Court of Canada.

What to do if your visitor visa is denied due to lack of travel history

If the main cause of denial listed in your case notes is “lack of prior travel history,” then the only way to go forward is to appeal to the Federal Court of Canada. Reapplying might make matters worse, since the previous reason for denial will now become part of the applicant’s record, and sending the original application for reconsideration to the same officer is unlikely to yield any positive results.

Appealing to the court offers a better chance for an impartial assessment of the original decision. It’s a time-consuming and expensive process: it can take up to a year for the matter to be finally heard and decided on by the judge. Even if the court rules in favor of the applicant, the decision of the immigration authorities will not be cancelled. If the applicant gets a favourable ruling, their application will be sent to another IRCC officer for reevaluation. That officer will have to consider the court’s ruling when deciding upon the application.

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Examples of successful appeal of visa denial due to inadequate travel history

The 2015 case of Mohinder Singh, a citizen of India, saw a successful appeal of the IRCC's decision to deny Mr. Singh a temporary resident visa (i.e., a visitor visa) due to insufficient funds and lack of travel history.

Both concerns were ruled to be unsubstantial. The officer failed to take Mr. Singh’s significant personal savings into account, looking only at his tax returns as evidence of income. As to the travel history, the judge found that considering it as a negative factor was unreasonable. Although some previous travel history may be an indicator of overall compliance to immigration laws, an absence of a prior traver can not factor into the decision of denying the applicant access to Canada.

A 2009 case of Jagpal Singh Dhanoa v. the Minister of the IRCC shows an example of a work visa application being denied for the same reason.

Mr.Dhanoa’s application for a work visa had been denied due to, among other factors, insufficient travel history. The judge ruled in Mr.Dhanoa’s favor, explicitly stating that his lack of previous travel can be, at most, a neutral factor. Mr.Dhanoa’s application should have been assessed under the following guidelines: his ability and intent to do the job that he was offered in Canada.

The officer’s other concerns, including having a "greater earning potential in Canada" and a "strong socio-economic incentive to stay here illegally despite having family in India" were determined to be racist and uncalled for.

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