Posted on - May 08, 2018

By Victor Ing

Victor Ing

In the past several years, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) have set ambitious immigration targets to attract newcomers to Canada. The majority of these newcomers are economic immigrants who bring human capital to our country and enrich our communities by sharing their unique set of skills, knowledge and experiences from abroad. To successfully immigrate to Canada under the economic immigration steams, however, you will need to clearly demonstrate to IRCC that you have the requisite experience and skillset. The best way to prove your prior work history is to prepare clear and concise employment reference letters. As Vancouver immigration lawyers, we often see employment reference letters that are lacking in the elements necessary to prove your working history, which can ultimately lead to refusals or delays in your immigration case.

In the Canadian immigration world, employment reference letters are used both to obtain work permits, as well as to obtain permanent residence under the economic streams. Employment reference letters are required in work permit applications because immigration officers will refuse to issue a work permit if they are not satisfied that the applicant has the necessary combination of work experience, credentials or language skills to perform the intended job in Canada. These job requirements are clearly set out in Canada’s National Occupational Classification (NOC), which should be referred to in the preparation of an employment reference. Employment reference letters are no less important in the context of a permanent residence application because they are needed to prove that the applicant meets the requirements of the economic stream they are applying under and to prove that the applicant was awarded the correct number of Comprehensive Ranking System points for their prior work experience if applying under Canada’s Express Entry System.

Employment reference letters are an official document from a company to confirm your work experience. Accordingly, the letter should be provided on official company letterhead and be authored by a person with the authority to speak about your employment history. Typically, these letters are prepared by an immediate supervisor or somebody with knowledge of staffing matters at the company such as a member of the Human Resources department who should indicate their title and contact information in case any questions arise about your employment.

Employment reference letters should indicate:

  • The length of your employment, indicating the dates worked;
  • Your job title(s) held during employment;
  • The job duties you performed, which should correspond to the specific duties listed in the NOC description for the position;
  • Your rate of pay and any employment benefits received; and
  • The hours of your work per week and indicate whether it constitutes full or part-time employment.

When proving work experience in Canada it is recommended that you provide additional evidence of your Canadian employment, including recent pay statements and tax documentation.

Following these guidelines will ensure that your foreign and Canadian work experience will be thoroughly documented and should reduce any delays or other issues with your Canadian immigration application. Since employment reference letters are usually prepared after employment has ended, it is highly recommended that you obtain an employment reference letter as soon as possible after your employment ends to avoid potential complications such as supervisors leaving their job positions or where the business has later closed or is otherwise unable to provide verification of your employment.

A reference letter is an essential document to be able to obtain a work permit or permanent resident status in Canada and must conform to the NOC description. Ensuring that your reference letters meet these criteria will enhance the likelihood of success in your Canadian immigration application.


Victor Ing is a Vancouver immigration lawyer at Sas & Ing Immigration Law Centre in Vancouver, BC Canada, and provides a full range of immigration services.

To learn more about immigrating to Canada, becoming a permanent Canadian resident or bringing your family to Canada, email Victor Ing or call him at 1-604-689-5444.

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