In a notable decision on April 25, 2024, the Federal Court of Canada, led by Madam Justice Whyte Nowak, granted a judicial review that contested the denial of a study permit for Abdollah Mahdavi, a 45-year-old Iranian national. This ruling (Docket IMM-1390-23, 2024 FC 629) criticized the original decision made by the Visa Officer, highlighting significant oversights in handling the application evidence.

Background of the Case

Mr. Mahdavi sought a study permit to pursue a Masters in Business Administration (MBA) at Trinity Western University in Canada. Despite his substantial qualifications and solid professional background in Iran, including positions such as a Technical Sales Supervisor and a Managing Director of a family business, his application was initially denied. The Visa Officer reasoned that Mr. Mahdavi’s intentions to return to Iran post-study were not adequately demonstrated, questioning the necessity of an MBA for his career advancement.

Judicial Critique and Ruling

Justice Whyte Nowak found the Visa Officer’s decision unreasonable, lacking in intelligibility, and justification. It failed to appropriately weigh Mr. Mahdavi’s existing ties to Iran and his clear career progression plans, which were supported by an employment offer contingent upon his graduation. This offer would not only result in a significant pay increase but also a major career advancement.

The decision emphasized the principles established by the Supreme Court’s decision in Canada (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration) v Vavilov, which call for a rational, transparent, and justifiable handling of administrative decisions. The Court noted that visa officers should avoid overreaching in their evaluation of an applicant’s educational and career choices unless those choices are glaringly misaligned with the stated career goals.

Implications for Future Applicants

This ruling serves as a reminder of the rigorous standards administrative decision-makers are held to under Canadian law. It underscores the necessity for visa officers to provide decisions that are not only grounded in the evidence presented but are also coherent and responsive to the specifics of each case.

For potential study permit applicants, this case highlights the importance of presenting a detailed and well-documented application that aligns educational aspirations with long-term career goals. It also illustrates the importance of legal recourse in instances where applications are not fairly assessed.


The Federal Court’s decision to overturn the denial and remit the case to a different officer for re-evaluation marks a significant victory for Mr. Mahdavi and sets a precedent for how similar cases should be handled in the future. It reinforces the idea that educational advancements should be seen as a legitimate pursuit under the right circumstances, irrespective of an applicant’s previous achievements.

Who was the applicant in this case?

The applicant was Abdollah Mahdavi, a 45-year-old Iranian citizen.

What was Abdollah Mahdavi applying for?

Abdollah Mahdavi applied for a study permit to pursue an MBA at Trinity Western University in Canada.

Why did the Visa Officer originally deny Mahdavi’s application?

The Visa Officer denied the application because they were not convinced that Mahdavi would leave Canada after his studies, questioning the necessity of an MBA for his career advancement.

What was the final decision of the Federal Court of Canada regarding Mahdavi’s case?

The Federal Court of Canada granted the judicial review, finding the Visa Officer’s decision unreasonable and ordered the case to be re-evaluated by a different officer.

On what grounds did Justice Whyte Nowak find the Visa Officer’s decision unreasonable?

Justice Whyte Nowak found the decision unreasonable due to its lack of intelligibility and justification and for failing to properly consider evidence showing Mahdavi’s strong ties to Iran and clear career enhancement plans.

What legal framework guides the review of study permit decisions in Canada?

The review of study permit decisions is guided by the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and standards set by Supreme Court decisions, particularly Canada (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration) v Vavilov.

What key legal principle did the case reinforce about administrative decision-making?

The case reinforced the principle that decisions must be justified, transparent, and intelligible, showing a respect for the applicant’s submissions and evidence.

What were some of Mahdavi’s qualifications and professional positions in Iran?

Mahdavi held a Bachelor’s and a Master’s degree in Civil Engineering, worked as a Technical Sales Supervisor, and was the Managing Director of his family’s company.

How did the court view the Visa Officer’s evaluation of Mahdavi’s career and educational choices?

The court criticized the Visa Officer for overreaching in evaluating Mahdavi’s choices, stating that unless the study choices are glaringly misaligned with career goals, they should not be second-guessed.

What does this case suggest about the handling of study permit applications by Visa Officers?

his case suggests that Visa Officers must thoroughly and fairly assess the evidence presented, focusing on the bona fide nature of the applicant’s motives and planned return to their home country after studies.

Pax Law Can Help!

Have you faced a refusal on your Canadian visa application? Don’t lose hope! Contact Dr. Samin Mortazavi at Pax Law Corporation, where expertise meets dedication to turning your visa challenges into success stories. With a profound understanding of Canadian immigration law and a commitment to personalized legal representation, Dr. Mortazavi can provide you with the strategic guidance and advocacy needed to effectively challenge visa decisions. Whether it’s reassessing your application or representing you in judicial reviews, Pax Law Corporation is your partner in navigating the complex landscape of immigration. Take the first step towards resolving your visa issues and securing your future in Canada by reaching out to Dr. Mortazavi today.


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