Express Entry: Employer Reference Letters

If my employer will not give me a reference letter for Express Entry, what should I do?

Question [Holthe Tilleman LLP website]:

My employment reference letter states my hierarchical designation as General Manager but does not detail my duties or role. I do not wish to inform my employer about my intention to immigrate, and asking any such letter now may create difficulty for me.

How do I meet CIC’s requirement of proof of my duties as per my stated occupation to qualify for Express Entry through the Federal Skilled Worker Program? Your assistance is greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance!
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Listen to Mark Holthe’s Answer


[Advisory] The following information is for reference purposes only. Because the Express Entry system changes frequently, you must consult the specific instructions contained within your portal when seeking to upload an employer reference letter. There is currently no available template listed on the general CIC website that describe the specific information that must be included in employer reference letters for Express Entry. As such, I have provided below a sample of what you could use in the interim. However, the instructions below come from the old document checklist for the Canadian Experience Class and are only to be used as a general guideline.

Employer reference letters must be:

  • written on company letterhead,
  • signed by the responsible officer/supervisor,
  • have the printed name and title of the responsible officer/supervisor beneath the signature,
  • show the company’s full address, telephone and fax numbers, e-mail and website addresses, • stamped with the company’s official seal (if applicable).

Reference letters must include all of the following information:

  • the specific period of your employment with the company,
  • the positions you have held during the period of employment and the time spent in each position,
  • your main responsibilities and duties in each position,
  • the corresponding National Occupational Classification (NOC) code (if known),
  • your total annual salary plus benefits,
  • the number of hours worked per week.

Read the Transcript

You can download a complete, word-for-word transcript of this episode here OR [spoiler]With citizenship and immigration Canada making it increasingly difficult to speak to an officer, there are few places to turn for information that can be relied upon. The Canadian immigration podcast was created to fill this void by offering the latest information on Canadian law, policy, and practice. Please welcome, immigration officer and Canadian immigration lawyer, Mark Holthe, as he answers a wide variety of immigration questions, and shares practical tips and guidance to help you along your way.

Welcome to the Canadian Immigration Answers podcast. My name is Mark Holthe, I’m an immigration lawyer practicing in the beautiful province of Alberta Canada. Today’s question comes from Yuvraj and he asks the following, “Hi, my employment letter states my hierarchical designation as general manager, but does not detail my duties or role. I do not wish to inform my employer about my intention to integrate, and asking any such letter now may create difficulty for me. How do I meet CICs requirement of proof of my duties as per my stated occupation? Your assistance is greatly appreciated, thanks in advance.”

Well, Yuvraj, I have to admit that over the last little while, immigration has become extremely difficult to deal with. They have shown very little mercy to anyone who does not submit a complete application. Because of that the answer that I have to give you is probably not one that you would like to receive. If you are submitting an express entry application, or any permanent residence application today, you pretty much need to submit exactly what the government is asking for. If you choose to not do so, you run a significant risk in getting your application returned. They seem to now be following a one touch only policy where if there are any missing documents, rather than the good old days when they would provide you with a letter stating the deficiencies, and then give you an opportunity to upload the missing information, they now simply refuse it.

So because of that I have to tell you that you really have to probably disclose to your employer and get their cooperation in submitting your application. Without that letter there is really very little that you can do to prove to Citizenship and Immigration Canada that you actually have the experience, and are working in the role of general manager as stated in your application. So I wish that I could tell you that you could submit some form of alternative to that letter or provide the existing letter with an explanation. However the days are gone when CIC will accept those kinds of things, especially if you are currently encumbered within that position. So I hope that answers your question, and good luck working that out with your employer.

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