How to Write a Reference Letter for Canadian Immigration

We decided to share with you how to write a reference letter for Canadian Immigration Application. If you are planning to immigrate to Canada, you already know that to be eligible for most Canadian economic immigration programs you need to have work experience and you need a reference letter to prove that. 

For many Canada Immigration Pathways, the work experience needs to be ‘skilled’. Thi means classified as NOC Skill Level 0, A, or B. So how do you prove that you have the right kind of work experience?

The first thing you need to do is to find the National Occupational Classification (NOC) codes associated with each of your past work experience. This is usually not as easy as it sounds, but you can check our Instagram post on how to choose the right NOC code for your Canadian immigration application.

The next step after getting your NOC code is to prove you actually worked in that position by providing a reference letter for each position.


So what is a Reference letter?

A reference letter also referred to as a letter of reference is a letter written to Canadian Immigration Officer to verify an employee for the amount of time the employee claimed to work in the company; and that the position matches the NOC code you have in your application. A reference letter for Canadian immigration is different from the kind of reference letter you might use when you’re applying for a job because, instead of recommending you as an employee, it verifies your claims.

The reference letters you provide let the visa officer reviewing your application calculate how much work experience you have. Since work experience is such an important factor for most Canada economic immigration programs, the quality of your letter of reference can have a huge impact on your application. If the visa officer isn’t convinced that your letter of reference is genuine, or if it’s missing some information the officer needs to assess the validity of your work experience, they may reject or refuse your application altogether.


Important Tip on How to Write a Reference Letter for Canadian Immigration Application.

  • If you’ve had multiple positions within the same company, try to get the company to issue separate letters for each position.
  • If you cover multiple positions in one letter, make sure the person writing it breaks up each period of employment.

So what are the components of an Ideal Reference letter?

The content of your reference letter can make a big difference in the success of your application. The letter needs to be formal, and the more information it includes about the company issuing it, the better.

Ideally, a letter of reference should have the following components:

  1. Be written on company letterhead
  2. Be signed by the responsible officer/supervisor
  3. Have the responsible officer/manager’s name and job title printed beneath the signature.
  4. Include the company’s contact information.
  5. Be stamped with the company’s official seal (if applicable)
  6. If possible, have the business card of the person signing it attached.
  7. If your reference letters don’t have these things, it might be a red flag to the visa officer that the employer issuing the letter is not genuine.

There are also specific things that an ideal letter of reference should include:

  • Your official job title

  • The dates of your employment

  • Your salary per week or month depending on how you are paid.

  • Your average hours per week

  • A detailed list of your job description/duties. (This is the most important part of your reference letter. It has to include your daily tasks and responsibilities and should make up most of the content of the letter. Remember, the visa officer may not be familiar with your industry, so make sure you inform the supervisor writing your letter to avoid using industry-specific abbreviations or terms. Your job duties should be listed clearly and concisely.

The list of your job description is how the visa officer confirms that you’ve chosen an appropriate NOC code. Every NOC code has an associated lead statement and list of duties. It doesn’t matter if your official job title doesn’t match up with a job title associated with your NOC code, as long as your employment duties match the lead statement and duties.


Avoid Writing a Suspicious Letter.

Even though your employment duties should match the lead statement and duties of the NOC code you choose. You should however avoid making your letter look doctored, thereby creating suspicion.

Your letter could be suspicious if your letter of reference matches exactly with the NOC description. The visa officer might believe that your letter of reference was created for the purposes of matching the NOC, rather than being an actual record of your work experience. In that case, the letter is considered “self-serving”, fraudulently obtained for immigration purposes, and not eligible for processing.


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

This is a question I often get from clients and it is a valid question. However, before I respond to this question and offer alternative ways you can prove your work experience. Let me clearly state that a reference letter is the best way to prove your work experience. But if for a legitimate reason, you’re not able to get a letter of reference, then you can try to convince the visa officer with alternatives to supplement your documentation.

Some examples of alternative documents include:

Employment letters, Promotion letters, payslips, Pictures of you at work, sworn declarations from previous colleagues.

In addition to these alternatives, you should also include a signed letter of explanation describing why you’re not able to provide a letter of reference.

Finally, I need to inform you that even if you have a perfect letter of reference, the visa officer makes the final decision. Our goal is to inform and encourage you to do proper and thorough documentation that will include all the necessary information that will convince the visa officer that your work experience is genuine.

In general, the more information you include, the more credible it will be to the visa officer, and the better your chances of your PR application being accepted.

A Canadian immigration expert can help you ensure that your letters of reference and other employment documentation meet IRCC standard.

At Dinspira Travels, we hold your hand every step of the way on your Canada Immigration journey. We don’t just assist our clients with their application, we hold you accountable to your dream so you don’t give up when the going gets tough.

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