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Language Proficiency Challenges in Work Permit Applications

In recent cases before the Federal Court of Canada, the significance of language proficiency in work permit applications has become increasingly apparent, shedding light on challenges faced by applicants even when no explicit language requirements are outlined for the specific job category.


Case 1: Maryam Langaroodi

Maryam Langaroodi, an Iranian citizen with a background in home design and renovation management, sought employment in Vancouver, Canada. Despite her employer securing a positive Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) and authorization to hire foreign workers, her work permit application was denied by an Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) officer. The officer cited concerns about her language abilities, particularly her IELTS score of 5. The Federal Court upheld the decision, emphasizing the importance of meeting language requirements based on job duties.


Case 2: Mehri Hosseinibay

In a similar vein, Mehri Hosseinibay, an Iranian seeking a Construction Project Coordinator position, faced a work permit rejection. Despite her employer obtaining a positive LMIA and confirming her qualifications, the IRCC officer denied her application, questioning her language proficiency without specific job-related language requirements. The court ruled the decision unreasonable, highlighting the lack of justification for deeming her language abilities insufficient.


Case 3: Santokh Singh


Santokh Singh, an Indian farm laborer, encountered a language-related hurdle despite a job offer in British Columbia. The IRCC officer rejected his work permit application, asserting insufficient evidence of language abilities for tasks involving machinery operation and safety procedures. Despite providing documentation, including a diploma and certificates demonstrating proficiency, Singh’s application was declined. The court found the decision lacking clarity and reason in relation to the presented evidence.


Implications for Applicants


These cases emphasize that language proficiency plays a crucial role in work permit applications, even when job descriptions lack explicit language requirements. Applicants are advised to provide comprehensive evidence of language skills, extending beyond standardized test scores. In both the Langaroodi and Hosseinibay cases, the courts emphasized the need for officers to provide clear justifications when denying applications based on language proficiency.


The Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) and International Mobility Program (IMP) are key avenues for employers seeking to address labour shortages. While the TFWP requires a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA), the IMP offers more flexibility, especially in cases where specific language requirements may not be explicitly outlined for the position.


These cases highlight the importance of a nuanced approach to language proficiency in work permit applications, urging both applicants and immigration officers to consider the broader context of job requirements and the evidence presented.


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