Proof of Work Experience for Express Entry

Published on: March 21st, 2022
Last updated: December 1st, 2023

When applying for Canadian permanent residence under the Express Entry system, you must submit sufficient proof of the work experience mentioned in your profile. Immigration officers may also use other methods to verify your work experience history.

Find out if you're eligible to immigrate to Canada

After you’ve submitted your application for permanent residence, Immigration, Refugee, Citizenship Canada (IRCC) confirms all the information provided. For most economic immigration applications, like Express Entry, you will need to provide supporting documentation for your work experience history.

How to Prove Work Experience for Express Entry

Whether your work experience is gained internationally or within Canada, there are various options available for submitting evidence when applying for Express Entry. The following outlines the different documents you can provide to demonstrate your work experience, along with insights into how immigration officers may verify the authenticity of the submitted evidence:

Reference letter

In general, when submitting an Express Entry application, you will need to provide proof for each period of work experience in the last ten years. The best way to demonstrate your work experience is through a reference letter from your employer. A reference letter for immigration is not the same as a reference letter when applying for a job. For more information on what to include in your letter, visit our dedicated blog post of The Ideal Letter of Reference.

If you are self-employed, a reference letter is not sufficient. Instead, you will need to provide documents such as:

  • Articles of incorporation or other evidence of business ownership
  • Proof of self-employed income
  • Documentation from third parties confirming your services (including payment details)

What if I can’t get a reference letter from my employer?

A letter of reference is the best way to prove your work experience. If you are not able to get a letter from your employer, then you can try to convince the visa officer with other documentation. This may include:

  • Employment contracts
  • Promotion letters
  • Paystubs
  • Pictures of you at work
  • Sworn declarations from former colleagues

You should also include a signed letter of explanation describing why you’re unable to provide a letter of reference.

It will always be at the discretion of the immigration officer to accept the proof of work experience you submit for your express entry application. For this reason, it is best to provide as much documentation as possible to demonstrate that your work experience is genuine. Call your workplace

What happens if I don’t include a reference letter with my application?

If you fail to provide a reference letter that verifies your work history, IRCC may return your application to you as incomplete. Once you submit your application for permanent residence, it is subject to a completeness check. During the completeness check, the immigration officer will go through to ensure all supporting documents are provided and complete. If the officer returns your application as incomplete, you will need to submit your application again. When applying through Express Entry, this may mean waiting to receive another Invitation to Apply (ITA).


Note: A personal affidavit attesting to your own work experience is not valid proof. If you submit a personal affidavit in place of sufficient proof, IRCC may return your application as incomplete.


How Does IRCC Verify Your Work Experience

When verifying your work experience, Canadian immigration officers may call your employer to confirm the details included in your application. However, it is not certain that IRCC will contact your employer; this will always be at the discretion of the individual officer reviewing your case.

Verify the business registration information

Immigration officers may also verify your employer’s business registration documents when confirming your employment history. During this process, they may check details such as the business address and contact information to ensure there are no red flags (ex. residential address provided for business address, private email address included with contact information).

Matching Your Duties to NOC Code Effectively

To determine whether you meet the requirements of an economic immigration program, an immigration officer will need to confirm your NOC code. To do so, they will review the duties included in your reference letter against the main duties of your selected NOC code.

It is important to note that, if the duties your employer provides in your reference letter are verbatim from the NOC code, it will likely raise red flags to the immigration officer. The letter should include a genuine and detailed list of the duties that you carried out in your role at the company.

Request additional documentation

If, during their verification process, immigration officers require more information on your work experience, they may issue a request for additional documentation. The documentation that IRCC requests will depend on what you have already submitted, and your individual situation.


Verifying Canadian work experience

When verifying Canadian work experience, immigration officers will likely request your tax documents (T4s, Notice of Assessments). This will help the officer determine that the work experience in Canada was not self-employed. Self-employed Canadian work experience is not considered for Canadian Experience Class eligibility.

Candidates with Canadian work experience should also provide a copy of their work and study permits. This will help the officer confirm whether you carried out your work on valid authorization, or not while engaging in full-time studies.


Misrepresenting information

Writing your own reference letter, or providing fraudulent documentation is considered misrepresentation. Misrepresentation is a serious charge and could result in a five-year ban from Canada. It is important to be honest and forthright on your Express Entry application to avoid complications during your immigration process.


Not sure whether you’re submitting the right documents? Take the guesswork out of your immigration application by hiring a reputable immigration lawyer. Get started by completing our free online assessment form today!

Get started

Recent articles

Immigration Tips

Overview of the Biggest Cities in Canada for Newcomers

Canada’s biggest cities offer a rich blend of historic landmarks, modern architecture, and year-round activities. From world-class museums to vibrant festivals, these urban centers provide […]

Attorney Dery Blog | Immigration Tips

Common Express Entry Mistakes and How To Fix Them

We want to see you succeed in your PR application to Canada, so we have prepared this blog post for you to read before submitting […]

Immigration Tips | Newcomers to Canada

What to Do If Your Canada Visa Was Rejected

If your Canadian visa was rejected by Immigration, Refugee, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), starting a life in Canada can seem hopeless. However, depending on the […]

Express Entry | Provincial Nominee Program (PNP)

Key Differences Between Express Entry and PNPs

Understanding the differences between the Express Entry system and Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs) is essential for navigating Canadian immigration. While both pathways can lead to […]

Express Entry

Express Entry and Family Members: All You Need to Know

The Canadian immigration system understands the importance of keeping families together. For this reason, Express Entry applicants may include their family members in an application […]

Newcomers to Canada

First Steps to Immigrate to Canada: A Beginner’s Guide

Is there a unique successful path to immigrate to Canada? Discover the tailored steps that can lead you to success and find out how to […]

Free assessment

Discover your Canadian immigration options. Get your free assessment now!