How to Write An Employment Reference Letter for Immigration to Canada

Posted Aug 31st, 2021

How to Write An Employment Reference Letter for Immigration to Canada

Express Entry is the Federal immigration program for skilled immigrants who wish to permanently settle in Canada. As part of all Express Entry applications, the IRCC requires an Employment Reference Letter as proof of your work experience. Here, our Ottawa and Orleans doctors explain what is involved in this letter. 

Express Entry is the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada's (IRCC's) online system used to manage applications for permanent residence from skilled workers. 

While there are different requirements for documentation based on the specific Express Entry Program you are applying through, there are a series of documents that all applicants must be able to provide. These include:

  • Language Test Results with a minimum score depending on your specific immigration program
  • Medical Examination Confirmation (provided by an immigration doctor)
  • Police Certificates certifying you and your family don't have a criminal record
  • A copy of the biographical data page of your passport or other travel documentation to prove your identity
  • Employment Reference Letter as proof of your work experience

What needs to be included in the Employment Reference Letter?

According to the IRCC, in addition to declaring your own work experience in the online form, you need to provide an accompanying reference or letter of experience from your employer if possible. This letter should include:

  • Your Name
  • The Employing Company's Contact Information (Including their name, telephone number, email and address)
  • Your Direct Supervisor's name, title and signature (this can also be fulfilled by a personnel or HR officer at the company)
  • Information About the Position(s), including: 
    • Titles
    • Duties
    • Responsibilities
    • Job Status (whether you are currently in the role or not)
    • The Dates You Started And Ended Your Time in That Position
    • Hours Worked Each Week
    • Annual Salary Plus Any Benefits

Any letter from a current or previous employer should be printed on company letterhead. 

There are ample examples of sample reference letters for Canadian immigration online. You can use those as a starting point for you and your employer to write your own. 

If you were self-employed, you will need to provide articles of incorporation, evidence that you owned your own business, proof of your self-employment income and documentation from a third party (such as a client) indicating what service you provided them and any payment details that are relevant. 

What if I can't include all of the above pieces in my letter?

Ideally, your Employment Reference Letter should include all of the above if possible.

If for one reason or another you aren't able to include any of the above parts of the letter, whether because of a lack of information, dissolution of the company, or an inability of your reference to attest to certain aspects of the job you should still use the letter.

While the IRCC values letters that include all of the above pieces, if you include a written explanation and proof of why you were unable to include specific pieces, they will still consider your application. 

What should be included in the list of duties?

The list of duties and responsibilities included in your letter will be compared against the list of duties defined by the National Occupation Classification system. "Skilled" jobs considered by the Express Entry program fall into the Skill Types 0, A or B according to this system. 

The list of duties should make up most of the content of your letter and is your immigration officer's way of determining whether you chose the right NOC code.

Using the link above, search the directory for a lead statement and list of duties that aligns with the position's responsibilities. Don't worry too much about whether your job title matches the title of the NOC-listed position that matches its duties, the title isn't as important.

Use this list of duties as inspiration for what aspects of your job you should ask your letter-writer to highlight. Make sure the letter doesn't copy the list exactly, doesn't list duties in the same order and includes a true report of your duties, even the ones that don't fall under the scope of the NOC description. If your duties match the NOC's description too closely, the officer reviewing your application may grow suspicious that the letter is forged. 

What if I can't get a Letter of Reference?

If you aren't able to obtain a letter of reference as proof of your employment and its duties, there are other ways to prove your work experience. 

Supplementary documentation that may be helpful if you aren't able to acquire an Employment Reference Letter for immigration can include:

  • Employment contracts
  • Paystubs
  • Letters of promotion
  • Photographs of you at work
  • Sworn declarations from colleagues

You should also include a signed letter with proof of why you aren't able to provide an employer's reference letter. As a rule, the more information about your employment and work experience you can provide, the better. 

Are you starting your application process for immigration into Canada using the Express Entry system? At Immigration Physician Ottawa, we are able to help you with your application process with Immigration Medical Exams to help you along in the process. Contact us today for more information.

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