When putting up a profile on the Express Entry system, you must possess at least one year of work experience.  At this early stage of uploading a profile, you don’t need a work reference letter.  Once you’ve been issued an Invitation To Apply, you must follow through with proof of what you said in your initially submitted profile.

Such proof includes third party documents such as police checks and equally important work reference letters.  Such letters are ostensibly authored by your employer.  Express Entry promises a six month processing time once you’ve been issued an Invitation to Apply.  Obtaining permanent residence after receiving an ITA is not a ‘sure thing’; you must back up what you’ve said in your initial EE profile and the failure to do so will result in a finding of misrepresentation and a consequent five year ban.

Post Graduate Work Permit Holders often have a three year work permit.  In that three years they must acquire one year of full time work experience at a suitably skilled level, at a job usually requiring post secondary education.   Similarly, Federal Skilled Worker candidates availing themselves of the EE system have to possess at least one year of paid full time work experience.

Canada’s immigration department has very specific guidelines as to what constitutes a proper work reference letter .  Such a letter must stipulate facts such as whether the job performed was full time or part time, amount of remuneration (and benefits, if any), start and if applicable, end date of employment,positions held and duration of time at each job position, but most importantly, the main duties performed.

This latter point has been the source of countless federal court cases; if your duties are listed with inadequate detail, you have failed to prove the minimum one year work experience required under EE; if your duties too closely match the National Occupational Classification, then then you fail; if your letterhead appears ‘smudged’, your letter may be ‘inadequate’ and you fail.  If you send an updated letter from your employer and the logo or letterhead differs, you fail; if the quality of the paper you employer prints the letter on is poor, you fail.

Officers try to fail you on work experience by stating the letter is not fraudulent, but merely inadequate.  If the work reference letter is in adequate, then an officer need not accord you procedural fairness; in other words, the officer can summarily refuse your application without giving you a chance to submit an improved work reference letter.

It is no doubt a challenge to acquire skilled work experience in Canada after graduating.  I suppose the immigration department’s view is that you get three years to acquire that one year of paid experience.  Indeed, other countries such as the UK or USA or Australia have no such pathway to permanent residence via studying in Canada; foreign students in those countries have to return to their home country after paying hefty student tuition fees.

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