January 23, 2024

Denied Work Permit in Canada: Federal Court Rejects Application Based on IELTS Scores

In a recent case that has sent ripples through the immigration landscape, a citizen of Iran faced a significant setback in her quest for a Canadian work permit. Despite securing a positive Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) and a promising job opportunity, her dreams were shattered due to a seemingly unexpected hurdle – her IELTS language test scores.

A Promising Opportunity and an Unexpected Obstacle

The individual in question, a seasoned home design and renovation manager from Iran, secured an employment contract as a Residential Home Builder with a construction company in Vancouver. The company had received a positive LMIA, making them eligible to hire temporary foreign workers in British Columbia. Excited about the prospect of contributing to the Canadian workforce, she eagerly applied for a work permit under the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP).

However, her optimism was met with disappointment when the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) officer handling her case denied the work permit, citing concerns about her language abilities. The core of the issue lay in her IELTS test scores, which were reported at a modest 5.

Taking the decision back to the court

Undeterred, the applicant pursued a judicial review, arguing that there was no specific "language requirement" for work permits and that the officer had not adequately explained why her language abilities were deemed insufficient. She maintained that the IELTS scores should not be the sole determinant of her language proficiency, especially when considering her extensive managerial experience.

However, despite her compelling arguments, the Federal Court upheld the officer's decision, emphasizing the critical nature of language requirements in the context of her new role as a Residential Home Builder.

Language Requirements and Work Duties

The court's decision was based on the officer's assertion that, given the job duties and responsibilities involved in residential home building management, meeting language requirements was of paramount importance. The IELTS scores, deemed "low" by the officer, were considered insufficient evidence of effective communication skills.

According to the court, an overall IELTS score of 5 indicated only basic, not effective, communication skills. The lack of additional evidence supporting her language capabilities further justified the officer's decision.

Implications for Applicants

This case serves as a stark reminder that a work permit application may be refused based on the applicant's language ability, even in the absence of explicit language requirements in the job description or a positive LMIA. Aspiring immigrants must recognize the significance of providing comprehensive information, including evidence of language proficiency, when completing immigration applications.

Strengthening Applications

To support their applications, individuals should consider providing additional evidence of language ability beyond test scores. This could include completion of English educational programs or proof of English-language employment. This case highlights the value of a well-rounded presentation of language proficiency, ensuring a more robust application.


As the case unfolds, it leaves aspiring immigrants with a crucial lesson – language proficiency is a key factor in the success of a work permit application. The careful presentation of comprehensive language ability evidence is essential, even when faced with seemingly unexpected challenges. This case reiterates the importance of thorough preparation and strategic planning in navigating the intricate landscape of Canadian immigration.

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