ApplyBoard Announces New Solutions

ApplyInsights: ApplyBoard Students More Likely to Receive Canadian Student Visa Approval

ApplyInsights: ApplyBoard Students More Likely to Receive Canadian Student Visa Approval banner

To date, ApplyBoard has assisted 200,000+ students from over 150 countries with their study abroad journeys. We’ve worked with those students to apply to programs at our 1,500+ partner institutions across Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia. Along the way, we’ve helped our students and recruitment partners understand important factors that affect a student’s visa approval.

In today’s ApplyInsights, I’ll be comparing Canadian study permit1 approval rates for ApplyBoard students to all international students over the last three years.2 I’ll start by reviewing some approval rate trends that impacted all students from 2018 to 2020. I’ll also show approval rate trends for ApplyBoard students over the same period. Then, I’ll take a closer look at approval rates for Indian students specifically. Finally, I’ll give my thoughts on how we’re helping students succeed, and what we expect to see for Canadian international students in 2022.

Key Insights at a Glance

  • ApplyBoard students were almost 20% more likely to have their Canadian study permit approved in 2020 compared to all applicants.
  • Approval rates for ApplyBoard students stayed more stable throughout the pandemic than those for all international students.
  • ApplyBoard students from India were 25% more likely to receive study permit approvals compared to all Indian students applying for Canadian study permits in 2020.

Let’s first take a look at Canadian study permit approval rate trends over the past three years.

Canadian Study Permit Approval Rates for All Students

Between 2016 and 2020, Canadian study permit approval rates fell from a high of 69.3% to a low of 51.3%. This decline was gradual to start, with approval rates falling by only 2.8 percentage points between 2016 and 2018. But the pandemic accelerated these negative trends, as the chart below shows:Canadian Study Permit Approval Rate for All Students, 2018–2020From 2018 to 2020, Canadian study permit approval rates declined by 15.2 percentage points. This was largely because international students were unable to secure the necessary documentation or financial support for study permit approval. The global economic downturn resulting from the pandemic impacted student financial stability. Agencies which provided access to documentation or biometric testing were also closed for prolonged periods. The Canadian government’s implementation of temporary COVID policies for study permits reduced these hardships, but approval rates remained low.

For more information on how and why Canadian study permit approval rates changed as a result of the pandemic, including how different source countries were impacted, check out my previous blog post.

While 2020 was a difficult year for international students planning to study in Canada, 2021 is looking bright. From January to May 2021, Canadian study permit approval rates bounced back significantly, reaching 67%. In fact, nearly as many study permits were approved in the first five months of 2021 as in all of 2020.

Check out my previous blog post on Canada’s international education sector recovery in 2021 for more information on rising approval rates and the booming college market.

Canadian Study Permit Approval Rates for ApplyBoard Students

The pandemic had a major impact on international students applying to Canadian institutions. However, approval rates for ApplyBoard students were more stable and remained above all-market averages between 2018 and 2020. All-market approval rates fell by over 15 percentage points from 2018 to 2020. By comparison, ApplyBoard student approval rates declined by only around 8 percentage points. This means that students using our ApplyBoard Platform were more successful in attaining Canadian study permits, enabling their study abroad dreams.

ApplyBoard student application strength and approval resiliency is evident in the chart below. The chart shows the likelihood of an ApplyBoard student receiving an approved Canadian study permit compared to all student applicants from 2018 to 2020:Likelihood of Canadian Study Permit Approval for ApplyBoard Students vs. All Students, 2018–2020In 2018, ApplyBoard students were 4% more likely to be approved for Canadian study permits than the all-market average. But by 2020, ApplyBoard students were 18% more likely to receive an approved Canadian study permit than the all-market average. Approval rates for ApplyBoard students stayed above 60% between 2018 and 2020, even though all-market rates fell to nearly 50%.

Higher ApplyBoard student approval rates were especially significant considering that most ApplyBoard students were pursuing post-secondary education. Primary and secondary study permit approval rates helped buoy overall Canadian approval rates during the pandemic, remaining above 75% throughout 2020. Excluding primary and secondary students, Canada’s all-market approval rate was 48% in 2020. In contrast, the Canadian approval rate for ApplyBoard students was 60% in 2020.Meti callout about 60,000 more international students coming to Canada from 2018 to 2020 if they had ApplyBoard student visa approval ratesThis incredible result shows the value of our platform’s technology, which uses artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning processes to strengthen student applications. It is also a testament to the guidance provided by our recruitment partners, partner schools, and Customer Experience team. By working together to develop strong relationships with international students, we’ve helped more students pursue their Canadian study abroad dreams.

Approval Rates for Indian ApplyBoard Students

To see how this difference in approval rate affected the largest source of international students at Canadian institutions, let’s look at Indian student trends.

Indian students saw approval rates 0.7 percentage points lower than the all-market average in 2018 and 3.5 percentage points higher in 2019. But the pandemic made it difficult for Indian students to secure study permit approval in 2020 and their approval rate fell to just 48.6%.

How did Indian students who used ApplyBoard fare during that period? The chart below shows the Canadian study permit approval rates for all Indian students and Indian students who used ApplyBoard between 2018 and 2020:Canadian Study Permit Approval Rates for Indian Students, ApplyBoard vs. All Students, 2018–2020Indian students who used ApplyBoard were over 5% more likely to receive study permit approval in 2018. In 2019, overall Indian student approval rates dropped but ApplyBoard Indian student approval rates increased. In 2020, Indian students using ApplyBoard were over 26% more likely to receive study permit approval than the all-Indian student average.

I’ll be covering the Indian student market for Canadian institutions in more detail in the coming weeks, so stay tuned!

How ApplyBoard Plans to Continue Helping Students Succeed

When my brothers and I started ApplyBoard, we dreamed of being able to make such a positive impact on the lives of students around the world. I am amazed and humbled to see these fantastic results for our students despite the challenges of the pandemic. We could not have achieved such success without our partner schools, recruitment partners, ApplyBoard colleagues, and international students who have trusted us to help them achieve their study abroad goals. These results reinforce our belief that international student recruitment is about quality, not just quantity.

And we’re not done yet: We’re driven to make international education accessible for more students. We’re working hard with our partner institutions in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia to replicate this success worldwide. We’re also constantly expanding our recruitment partner and partner school networks to provide students with more opportunities to study abroad. And we’re taking concrete steps to empower our recruitment partners to deliver the very best for their students through our ApplyBoard Counsellor Courses (ABCC).

I’ll be keeping an eye on study permit approval rates for all students, and ApplyBoard students, through the rest of 2021. I’m interested to see if approval rates remain strong as travel restrictions ease. But more importantly, I’m excited to see students who put their study abroad plans on hold during the pandemic finally arrive in Canada!

Published: July 21, 2021

Subscribe to ApplyInsights

Sign up for the latest insights on international education.

Meti BasiriMeti Basiri
Co-Founder and Chief Marketing Officer (CMO)
Meti is driven by the belief that education is a right, not a privilege. He leads the International Recruitment, Partner Relations, and Marketing teams at ApplyBoard, working to make education accessible to people around the world. Meti has been instrumental in building partnerships with 1,500+ educational institutions across Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia. Working with over 5,000 international recruitment partners, ApplyBoard has assisted over 150,000 students in their study abroad journey. Follow Meti on LinkedIn for more access to ApplyInsights and key industry trends.


1. The terms student visa and study permit are generally used interchangeably for Canadian international students. Rather than student visas, Canada provides accepted international students with study permits, which allow those students to enroll in classes at Canadian institutions. When a student is accepted for a study permit, they are also usually provided with a visitor visa, which allows that student to enter Canada for their studies.

2. Canadian statistics used in this article are for new study permits only, unless otherwise specified. All general Canadian study permit data courtesy of Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). All ApplyBoard data sourced from our ApplyBoard Platform.


The most important stories in international education, backed by data