What Are Letters of Explanation (and how to write one)
What is a letter of explanation or LOE?
A letter of Explanation (LOE) is simply a letter from yourself to the immigration officer who will receive your application that provides more information in any areas where the information you are providing needs some further explanation.
Should I submit a Letter of Explanation?
If you have anywhere in your application that more information on the matter would help the immigration officer move through the process of assessing your eligibility for Canadian Permanent Residency, then it helps to provide a Letter of Explanation.
For example, one of your employers may have gone out of business and you have provided letters from a range of former work colleagues and other documents to prove your work experience, it would help in this instance to provide an LOE with this information. Or if your proof of funds arrived in your account as a sudden lump sum, and it was from the sale of your car, you can provide an LOE to explain that and so on.
What should the LOE include and look like?
The LOE should look like a normal business letter. It should have the date, a heading or headings, clear information, and be signed by you. It must be in English or French.
Does the Letter of Explanation need to be notarized?
No. Don’t notarize your LOE, there is no need, it is just a letter giving further explanation to your application where it is needed. Think of it as simply a letter from you to the immigration officer to provide the necessary information.
Where should I upload the LOE so the immigration office will receive it?
There is a section in the document upload portal where you upload your documents after your Invitation to Apply, it is titled “letter of explanation”. You can upload it here.
You also have the option to upload your letter of explanation by attaching it to the set of documents your LOE relates to. Ie. if it relates to your change of name documents, put it on the front of those related documents when you upload them. This will also be seen by the immigration office.
It is up to you, you can do either.
Can I upload more than one LOE?
Yes, you can. Some people prefer to write a separate LOE for each section that needs one, others prefer to write one LOE that covers all the matters they need to include across their entire application.
So long as the letter is clear on what it relates to, you are ok to choose either way and to upload more than one if required.
Do you have any tips on LOE’s?
Yes – the tip is that if something could be confusing or if anything in your application would be easier for the immigration officer to understand with a little more explanation, then include a LOE otherwise they will have to come back asking for more information, or worse they may form an incorrect assumption based on the lack of information and confusion created.
Also, an LOE is a statement from you, in your words, so keep it natural and ensure the language is clear and contains correct grammar.
Make sure you submit the LOE in either English or French.
How to Respond to a Procedural Fairness Letter (PFL)
What is a Procedural Fairness Letter?
A procedural fairness letter is an email or letter electronically sent by an immigration officer. The officer sends that letter to allow a visa applicant to respond to a concern about the documents that have been submitted.
What should I do if I receive a Procedural Fairness Letter?
First of all, don’t panic if you receive a Procedural Fairness Letter, but do take the matter seriously.
The whole reason for having PFLs is to allow the applicant to clear up any issues and give them the chance to correct or provide the information or proof required.
If you receive a PFL, deal with it as a matter of urgency. Provide the information you need to provide or address the matter being raised in the Letter. The PFL will include information on the matter at hand and what the officer needs you to do to rectify the situation.
It is usually a gap in documentation or some kind of further documentation to support your application that is required. This documentation will most likely be instructed to be uploaded to the portal. You may need to make a statement as well explaining the situation further which could be done on a Letter of Explanation (LOE) or in another format as instructed on your PFL.
Why would I have received a Procedural Fairness Letter?
You could receive a PFL for a number of reasons, some of these include:
- Missing or incomplete information in your application
- The officer has uncovered some information that does not match the information you have provided
- Errors might have been found in your application that impacts the points you had within the Express Entry and CRS system that would now mean you would not have received an offer
- They need clarification on a serious aspect of your application.
What happens if the immigration officer does not feel my response was enough to satisfy them?
If you supply more information or can’t supply information on the matter that the Immigration officer has raised in their PFL, your application may be rejected. If you respond and they need a bit more information they may send you another PFL asking for more specific information to help them ensure you can qualify for Permanent Residency.
Unless the immigration officer has uncovered something that will disqualify you from being granted Canadian Permanent Residency, the PFL will come down to further explanation and further provision of proof.
Again, don’t panic. This is the system they have built to give you every chance possible to prove your case.
The Express Entry Tie-Break Rule Explained Simply
What is the Canadian Immigration Express Entry Tie Break Rule?
When the Canadian Government makes an offer round they issue two pieces of information about the round of invitations.
1 – the lowest qualifying CRS score to receive the invitation in the round is known as “the cut-off score” and
2 – a date known as the Tie-Breaking “cut-off date” for people with that cut-off score.
The government uses this rule to have a fair system to separate people who share the lowest CRS cut-off score on an invitation round.
How does the Tie Break Rule Work?
Let’s use an example to show how the tie break rule works for express entry invitation rounds.
Let’s say Canada wanted to offer 2500 people from the express entry pool an invitation to apply for permanent residency. The offer announcement will come out saying the offer round CRS score and the cut-off date.
Let’s make up an example to show how this works. Let’s say the offer round is 2500 invitations at a CRS of 436 and a cut-off day of July 11th.
How was the cut-off worked out?
The only piece of information fed into the system is that Canada wants to make 2500 offers in this round.
Once that information is inputted, the invitations start moving through the express entry database, offering 2500 invitation letters starting with the very highest CRS scores first and then moving down through lower and lower CRS scores in the pool until 2500 offers have been made.
Each time the system drops a CRS point in the system it starts to work through that set of applicants on that particular score based on the order of the date they submitted their application – on a first-come-first-served basis.
Once the total number of invitations has been reached – in this case, 2500 invitations, the system stops.
It will have stopped while partway working through a specific CRS score. It will have stopped on a certain date on that lowest score, in this case, it stopped at CRS points of 436 on the 11th July.
This means that every applicant with a score above 437 has received an invitation to apply for Permanent Residency, and everyone who had 436 points who had also submitted their application BEFORE July 11th also received an invitation to apply.
Anyone on 436 points who applied after July 11th will not receive an offer this round.
Why is this Tie Breaking Rule needed?
The reason is that there are many people in the system on each and every CRS point level.
Sometimes there are hundreds on each point band. The Government has an exact number of invitations they wish to offer in each draw, in this case only 2500, however, there may have been many more people on 436 points, they can’t offer to everyone on 436 points without going over their 2500 invitations.
So, the fairest way they found was to base the offer rounds on an order of submission basis within each score level.
Does it impact me if I have a higher score than the offer cut off?
In our example, everyone on 437 and above received an offer regardless of their date of submission. And everyone on 436 who submitted before July 11th.
The Tiebreaker date only impacts the applicants who happen to have the score of the offer round, which is the lowest score of the invitation round.
If I update my Express Entry profile will it reset my date of submission making it worse for my application in terms of the Tie-Breaking rule?
Updating your Express Entry profile does not impact your “Express Entry submission date” for the tie-breaking rule. You will stay as “submitted” on the original date of completing your full profile regardless of any subsequent edits or updates you need to apply to your Express Entry profile. So go ahead and update your profile as needed.
Submit your Express Entry profile as soon as possible to gain the greatest advantage.
The main takeaway here is to get your express entry profile submitted as soon as possible to gain the most advantage from the tie-breaking rule, in case it applies to your CRS score in a future offer round. The sooner you submit your completed Express Entry profile the better off you are in relation to the “tie-breaker rule”.
Realistic Timeframes for Your Application (start till finish)
When applying for Permanent Residency it’s helpful to realize the time frames involved with your application. Most people want to know how long it is going to take.
We will divide the application process into 3 sections:
1 Collecting the documents you need to submit your Express Entry Application
2 Submitting your Express Entry application through to Receiving your Invitation to Apply
3 Responding to your Invitation to Apply through to Receiving your Permanent Residency
Stage 1 – Collecting the documents you need to submit your Express Entry Application
During stage one, you will need to obtain your Language Test, and depending on which program you are applying under you will need either an ECA (Education Credential Assessment) or a Trade qualification from Canada. The time this stage takes will vary from one month for applicants that only need a Language Test, to 3-5 months for those that need to obtain their Canadian Trade Qualification.
Expected Timeframe – From 1 to 5 months
Stage 2 – Submitting your Express Entry application until Receiving your Invitation to Apply
Once you have your documents ready, completing and submitting your Express Entry Application will only take around an hour (another reason why you don’t need to be paying $000’s to a so-called migration agent or costly lawyer!).
The length of time that it then takes for you to receive an invitation to apply will vary on the strength of your application. Invitation offers are sent regularly for each program, however, offers for the Federal Skilled Trades Program are sent out less often, but usually in larger batches.
Depending on the strength of your application and your associated CRS score, you could receive an invitation in a matter of weeks, or you may find you don’t receive an invitation within a year. If that is the case, resubmit your Express Entry application and work on improving your CRS score. Canada has more than 100 immigration pathways and there is likely to be a path to suit you.
Expected Timeframe – From 1 month to 1 year + depending on your application.
Stage 3 – Responding to your Invitation to Apply through until Receiving your Permanent Residency
Once you receive your invitation to apply, you have 60 days to complete your application and provide all the requested documents. Your case will then progress through an Intake Officer who will check your documents are all there, and then you will be passed to your Case Officer.
Once your case officer has been appointed, you can expect that the process will take six months for a simple case, and maybe nine months for a more complex case. Remember things take time to investigate and check. It is a very important part of the process. So don’t worry if things are taking a longer time than you expect. Your Case Officer has a lot of work to do and Canada is seeking 411, 000 immigrants this year alone. It’s a big task.
Something that slows this stage down is applicants not being as clear as they could be with their documentation, having things incomplete, or situations that are not explained well in the documentation.
If this is the case, time will be lost with the immigration officer sending requests for information back and forth to you. To avoid this try and put forward everything asked for and explain any complexities in an LOE (Letter of Explanation).
Expected Timeframe – 60 days plus 6 – 9 months +
Total Expected Timeframe
As you can see above, 9 months to 1.5 years from start to finish would be a realistic timeframe to plan around.
What Happens After Your Permanent Residency has been Granted?
When your PR Visa application is finally granted you’ll receive
- Confirmation of Permanent Residence (CoPR)
- Permanent resident visa (if you’re from a country that requires a visa)
Your CoPR will have information about who you are, as well as your photograph.
Check to make sure your information is correct. It should be the same as the information on your passport. If there is a mistake on your CoPR, contact immigration directly via your digital account.
It is important to note the CoPR cannot be extended, so you should make sure to travel to Canada and pass through Immigration use it before it expires.
A CoPR is usually valid for up to one year and is tied to the expiry of your medical exam, visa, and passport. Normally, newcomers to Canada need to use their CoPR before it expires.
If you’re outside Canada when your PR visa is granted, there are many things that can be done to prepare for your new life. One of the best ways is making full use of the many free pre-arrival services which help people find out more information on living and working in their new country:
Remember that you need to use the ArriveCAN system 72 hours before you leave your home country and arrive in Canada. ArriveCAN is an app that must be downloaded to your device and where you must input your travel and arrival details, as well as your CoPR details. If you don’t use ArriveCAN you may be denied entry to Canada.
What to do If you’re not yet eligible for Express Entry
There are numerous reasons why you might not yet be eligible for Express Entry. However, the good news is that there are ways to improve your eligibility and other immigration pathways that still lead to Permanent Residency.
Reasons you might not yet be eligible for Express Entry
It could be that your language test results require some improvement:
If you are a Federal Skilled Worker (FSW) applicant, you need to have at least CLB7 in your first language (you can choose between French and English).
- If you are applying under the Canadian Experience Class (CEC), you must have:
- at least CLB7 in your first language if your primary NOC code is Skill Type/Level 0 or A, or
- at least CLB5 in your first language if your primary NOC code is Skill Level B.
- If you are a Federal Skilled Trades (FST) applicant, you need to have, in your first language, at least CLB5 in listening and speaking, and CLB4 in writing and reading.
It could be that you need to improve your relevant work experience:
- For FSW, you need at least one year of full-time, continuous, paid work experience, in a NOC code with Skill Type/Level 0, A, or B.
- For CEC, you need at least one year of full-time experience in Canada, in a NOC code with Skill Type/Level 0, A, or B.
- For FST, you need at least two years of full-time work experience in a skilled trade.
Job offers can also impact eligibility:
- For job offers, you do not need one to be eligible, except for Federal Skilled Trade applicants. If you do not have a 1-year job offer from a Canadian employer, you will have to provide a certificate of qualification. Please see our chapters on Federal Skilled Trades for more information.
If you are an FSWP applicant, there is an additional requirement of scoring 67 points on the FSWP Immigration points matrix.
It could be that for the FSWP you are finding it difficult to hit the 67 points eligibility level. Usually, this could be down to the age/education balance. For example, someone scoring top marks for work experience, language skills who has a standard undergraduate degree over the age of 40 may find it difficult to secure the 67 points required.
In these types of scenarios, many potential immigrants often give up on their dream but don’t! Please check out our chapter on studying in Canada and how studying in Canada can lead to full PR for you and your family (if applicable).
Further Help & Guidance During the Process
While the process of immigrating to Canada can seem daunting at first glance it has been designed specifically by the Canadian government to be very straightforward and many thousands of applicants make and manage their own applications each and every week without the use of a costly migration agent, paralegal or expensive lawyer.
We hope you’ve found this guide both interesting and informative. We do our very best to keep all information up to date and relevant. Our website, www.emigratecanada.com has been established since 1997 and serves millions of visitors each and every month from every country in the World.
Stay in touch with any major updates to Canadian Immigration on the website and in the exclusive member’s area, available to only the select purchasers of this book. To join our invitation-only member’s area simply head over to EmigrateCanada.com/Members and sign up with the same email you used to purchase your copy of the book.