Overturning a Student Visa Refusal: Romina Soltaninejad’s Victory

Welcome to the Pax Law Corporation blog! In this blog post, we are excited to share the inspiring story of Romina Soltaninejad, a 16-year-old high school student from Iran, who sought to pursue her education in Canada. Despite facing a refusal on her student visa application, Romina’s determination and legal challenge resulted in a significant victory. Join us as we delve into the details of the court decision that overturned the refusal and explore the legal framework that played a crucial role in this case.

I. Background: Romina’s Educational Journey

Romina Soltaninejad, a bright young student from Iran, aspired to complete her high school education in Canada to enhance her chances of being accepted into the prestigious University of Toronto, where she hoped to study Computer Science. Having successfully completed her Grade 11 studies in Iran and even taking four Grade 11 courses online at Green Road High School in Canada, Romina was accepted into the Grade 12 program at Green Road High School. This one-year program required her physical presence in Canada from March 2022 to March 2023.

II. The Refusal Decision: Unreasonable and Unresponsive

Despite Romina’s clear goals and dedication to pursuing her education in Canada, her student visa application was refused by the Visa Officer. The refusal was based on the grounds that the purpose of her visit did not seem reasonable due to the availability of similar programs closer to her place of residence in Iran. Additionally, the Officer raised concerns about the socio-economic situation of Romina’s family and questioned the affordability of her proposed studies in Canada. These factors ultimately led the Officer to doubt whether Romina would leave Canada at the end of her authorized stay.

III. Issues and Standard of Review: Assessing Reasonableness

The key issue at hand was whether the refusal decision was reasonable, as determined by the framework set out in Canada (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration) v Vavilov, 2019 SCC 65. This framework requires a reviewing court to assess the coherence and justification of the decision based on the legal and factual constraints. The burden lies with Romina, as the applicant, to demonstrate that any flaws in the decision are significant enough to render it unreasonable.

IV. Analysis: Assessing the Officer’s Decision

In the analysis of the court decision, Justice Pentney critically examines the Officer’s reasons for refusal. The Officer based the decision on four grounds: the purpose of Romina’s visit and study plan, the availability of local options at a lower cost, the socio-economic circumstances of her family, and the belief that she would not leave Canada at the end of her authorized stay. Romina’s legal team challenges each of these grounds and highlights errors and deficiencies in the Officer’s reasoning.

V. The Reasoning Behind the Decision

While the court acknowledges that not all of Romina’s arguments against the decision are accepted, Justice Pentney finds that the refusal decision is ultimately unreasonable. The key flaw lies in the Officer’s failure to address Romina’s main explanation for choosing Canada, which was to improve her chances of being accepted into a Canadian university. The Officer’s analysis did not engage with Romina’s stated reasons, disregarding her belief that completing high school in Canada would bolster her university prospects. Furthermore, the Officer’s analysis failed to consider the specific circumstances of Romina’s case, including her age, her family’s support, and the financial sacrifices made to pursue her education in Canada.

VI. Remittal for Reconsideration

Based on the unreasonableness of the refusal decision, Justice Pentney grants Romina’s application for judicial review and orders the matter to be reconsidered by a different officer. The decision sets an important precedent for future student visa cases and reinforces the necessity for decision-makers to be responsive to applicants’ main arguments and to assess the unique circumstances of each case.

Why was Romina’s student visa application refused?

Romina’s application was refused based on concerns regarding the purpose of her visit, availability of local options, her family’s socio-economic situation, and doubts about her departure from Canada.

What legal framework was applied in Romina’s case?

The court applied the framework set out in Canada (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration) v Vavilov, 2019 SCC 65 to assess the reasonableness of the refusal decision.

What were the key flaws in the Officer’s decision?

The Officer failed to address Romina’s main reasons for wanting to study in Canada, disregarded her belief that it would improve her chances of being accepted into a Canadian university, and did not consider the specific circumstances of her case.

How did Romina challenge the refusal decision?

Romina sought judicial review to challenge the decision, arguing a denial of procedural fairness and unreasonableness.

What was the outcome of Romina’s judicial review?

Romina’s application for judicial review was allowed, and the matter was remitted for reconsideration by a different officer.

What factors contributed to the court’s decision to overturn the refusal?

The court found that the Officer’s decision was unreasonable due to the failure to address Romina’s stated reasons and disregard for her unique circumstances.

What impact does this decision have on future student visa cases?

The decision reinforces the importance of decision-makers being responsive to applicants’ main arguments and assessing individual circumstances in student visa cases.

What lesson can be learned from Romina’s case?

Romina’s case highlights the significance of perseverance, providing strong supporting evidence, and challenging unreasonable decisions to achieve a successful outcome.

How can a refusal decision be challenged in Canadian immigration cases?

A refusal decision can be challenged through judicial review, where the court assesses the reasonableness of the decision based on the legal framework and supporting evidence.

What should applicants include in their study plans to strengthen their case?

Applicants should clearly articulate their reasons for choosing Canada and explain how their educational goals align with their future aspirations, demonstrating the value and benefits of studying in Canada.


Romina Soltaninejad’s inspiring journey serves as a reminder of the importance of perseverance in the face of adversity. Through her determination and legal challenge, Romina successfully overturned the refusal decision on her student visa application. The court’s decision emphasized the need for decision makers to be responsive to applicants’ arguments and consider individual circumstances. We hope Romina’s story inspires other students and serves as a beacon of hope for those facing similar challenges in their pursuit of education abroad.

For personalized legal assistance with your immigration matters, contact Pax Law Corporation, where our experienced team is dedicated to helping individuals navigate the complexities of Canadian immigration law.

Disclaimer: The information provided in this blog post is for general informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. For personalized legal advice, please consult with a qualified immigration lawyer.


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