Unfortunately, thousands of people each year get the dreaded message in their My CIC account that their Federal Skilled Worker (FSW), Canadian Experience Class (CEC), Federal Skilled Trades (FST) or Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) application submitted through Express Entry has been refused or cancelled. The purpose of this page is to help applicants avoid the stressful experience of receiving a refusal or cancellation.
Most Express Entry refusal letters begin like this:
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has reviewed your application for permanent residence. We have determined that your application does not meet the requirements of a complete application as described in sections 10 and 12.01 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations. Your application is rejected for being incomplete and therefore, was not put into processing.
Specifically, your application does not include the following elements:
Note: A full review of your application was not performed. There may be other elements, not identified above, which may also be missing or incomplete.
This type of letter is actually for the cancellation of an Express Entry application rather than the refusal of an Express Entry application, as the application has not actually gone into processing yet. A cancellation is the online equivalent of a paper immigration application being returned – all of the required components for processing of the application were not included, so it has been returned to the applicant unprocessed.
What is the difference between a refusal and cancellation of a PR application?
Cancellation of Express Entry Application
When an applicant receives a message in their MyCIC account that their application has been cancelled, this means their application has been assessed to see if the application is complete and IRCC has determined that some of the required mandatory documents or information was not submitted. Typically, depending on volume, applications are assessed for completeness within 1-2 months of submission to IRCC, and for any applications that are deemed to be incomplete, the applicant will be notified within this time.
When an application has been deemed to be complete, it is then placed in queue to be assessed by an Immigration Officer who will then determine two things:
- Whether the applicant meets the eligibility requirements of the program that they have applied for, and
- That the applicant had the necessary CRS points at the time they received their ITA.
It is important to note that a cancellation of a PR application is not a refusal. However, applicants who receive correspondence that their application has been cancelled will lose their Invitation to Apply (ITA) and will need to create a new Express Entry profile and wait to receive a new ITA before they can submit another application.
When an applicant receives a cancellation letter, the letter will state the reason why their application has been cancelled as incomplete.
All government fees will be reimbursed to the applicant within 6 weeks of receiving their cancellation letter.
Refusal of Express Entry Application
Unlike a cancellation, all applications that are refused have already passed the completeness check. An application can be refused for many reasons such as:
- The applicant has not met the minimum requirements of the program they applied for (CEC, FST, FSW or PNP)
- The applicant did not have the required CRS points at the time they receive their application
- The applicant is inadmissible to Canada
- The applicant’s family member is inadmissible to Canada
When an applicant receives a refusal letter, the letter will state the reason why their application has been refused. Now that the applicant has received a refusal letter they must now declare on all future immigration applications that they have previously been refused an application for permanent residence when asked.
After an application is refused the applicant will not be reimbursed the processing fee as this fee is the amount charged to process an application whether it is approved or refused. However, they will be reimbursed the Right of Permanent Residence Fee usually within 6 weeks.
Most refusal letters of a PR application through Express Entry will read something like this:
I have now completed the assessment of your application for a permanent resident visa as a
member of the Canadian Experience Class and have determined that you do not meet the
requirements for immigration to Canada.
Section 11.2 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act directs that an officer may not issue
a visa or other document in respect of an application for permanent residence to a foreign national
who was issued an invitation under Division 0.2 to make such an application if – at the time the
invitation was issued or at the time the officer received their application – the foreign national did
not meet the criteria set out in an instruction given under paragraph 10.3(1)(e) or does not have the
qualifications on the basis of which they were ranked under an instruction given under paragraph
10.3(1)(h) and were consequently issued the invitation.
Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada invited you to apply for permanent resident status
based on the qualifications you claimed in your Express Entry profile. Those qualification claims
and the accompanying Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) points awarded were summarized
in your invitation letter.
Subsection 12(2) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act states that a foreign national may
be selected as a member of the economic class on the basis of their ability to become economically
established in Canada. Subsection 87.1(1) of the regulations prescribes the Canadian Experience
Class as a class of persons who are skilled workers and who may become permanent residents on
the basis of their ability to become economically established in Canada.
Most Common Reasons for Express Entry Application Refusal
Police Certificate No longer Valid
All applicants must provide a police certificate from their country of current residence and every country where they have resided for six months in a row in the last 10 years or since they turned 18 years of age, whichever is more recent. Whether a police certificate is considered valid completely depends on where the applicant currently resides and the last time that they were physically present in that country.
Country of Residence
All applicants are required to provide a police certificate from the country where they currently live. The police certificate must have been issued within 6 months from the date they submit their application. Applicants who reside in Canada and are submitting their application from Canada are not required to provide a RCMP Police certificate from Canada. IRCC may request an RCMP background check during the processing of the application, however this is rare.
Previous Countries of Residence
As mentioned above, all applicants are required to provide a police certificate from every country where they have resided for six months in a row with in the last 10 years or since they turned 18. The police certificate will be considered valid as long as it was issued AFTER the last time they resided in that country.
In some cases, applicants who apply for work permits including the International Experience Canada Program (IEC) are required to provide a police certificate as part of their work permit application. They apply for the police certificate from their country of residence. A year or two later when they are applying for PR from within Canada and they use the same certificate they used for their work permit application and this results in the cancellation of the PR application. The reason for this is that the police certificate they used was issued while they were residing there rather than AFTER they resided in their country of residence.
For example, a refusal/cancellation letter based on a police clearance may sound something like this:
o The Police certificate for SMITH, John Q from the United Kingdom that you provided with your application is not acceptable as it does not cover the full period of time spent in the United Kingdom. You have indicated in your address/personal history that you resided in the UK from 2015/10/31 to 2018/06/10
Police Certificate Scanned and Uploaded in Black and White
It is a mandatory requirement that all police certificates must be a scanned colour image of the original document. If the original police certificate is not scanned in colour this could result in the cancelation of the application. Even if the original police certificate is black and white and signed with a blue pen the applicant is required to upload the colour version.
If your original police certificate is completely in black and white such as an FBI certificate and you are worried that they will cancel your application in error, you can upload a clear legible scan of the document and also include a color photo of the document beneath just so the intake officer is aware the document has no colour.
Education Credential Missing or not included in Application (Degree, Certificate, Diploma)
Every applicant who is claiming a foreign education such as a degree, diploma or certificate obtained from outside Canada must apply for an Education Credential Assessment (ECA) from one of the IRCC approved ECA organizations. This process can sometimes be difficult and often lengthy. Once obtained, applicants can either create their Express Entry Profile or update their existing profile. However the actual ECA report itself is not a mandatory document that is required to be uploaded with the application. Instead, applicants are required to provide the information stated on their ECA report including the ECA report/certificate number. What some people do not realize is that it is a mandatory requirement to upload a scanned image of their degree, diploma or certificate. If the application is submitted with the degree, diploma or certificate this will result in the cancelation of their PR application. Also, if the applicant is in possession of their transcripts they should also include them.
Note: It is good practice to include your ECA report beneath your degree as IRCC can request a copy of the ECA report after the application has been submitted, so why not provide it to them now.
Primary Duties and Responsibilities not included in Letter of Employment
In order to demonstrate each period of work experience included in their application, applicants are required to provide a letter of employment from each period they are claiming under the work history section of their application. Each letter will be reviewed by the IRCC officer to help them determine whether the applicant has the necessary experience required in order to meet the eligibly requirements of the program they are applying under and also to determine their CRS points.
The officer will review the information in the letter including the applicant’s job title/occupation, hours worked per week, salary or hourly pay, benefits if applicable. They will also check to ensure that the letter is on company letterhead and signed by the employer.
However the most important information contained in the letter is the primary duties and responsibilities of the position. These duties will help the officer determine whether the NOC the applicant has selected in their application is the correct code for the position and whether the occupation will fall under a skill type 0, A or B. If there are no duties and responsibilities listed on the letter the officer will have any choice but to refuse the application. It is always good practice that the employer includes no less than six duties and responsibilities on the letter.
For detailed information on what should be included in a Letter of Employment for Express Entry, click here.
For example, a refusal due to the Letter of Employment may say something like:
I am not satisfied that you meet the requirements under paragraph a), b) and c) because you have
not submit sufficient evidence to satisfy me that you have at least one year Canadian work
experience or the equivalent in part-time work experience, in one or more occupations that are
listed in Skill Type 0 Management Occupations or Skill Level A or B of the National
Occupational Classification matrix and that you performed the actions and the duties described
in the led statement for the occupation identified in your application.
Specifically the letter that you provided with your application is an offer of employment which
does not confirm the duties and the actions that you performed while being employed with
XYZ Corporation Inc.
The letters provided it for the work experience as a “cook” are written by co-workers and is not
an official letter of employment.
The following documents are mandatory for each work experience declared:
- a reference or experience letter from the employer,
- which should be an official document printed on company letterhead (must include the applicant’s
name, the company’s contact information [address, telephone number and email address],
and the name, title and signature of the immediate supervisor or personnel officer at the
- should indicate all positions held while employed at the company and must include the
following details: job title, duties and responsibilities, job status (if current job), dates worked
for the company, number of work hours per week and annual salary plus benefits;
Please note that the onus is on you to prove that you meet the requirements of the Immigration
and Refugee Protection Act. Based on the documentation that you provided, I am not able to
determine that, while working in those occupations with XYZ Corporation Inc.
you performed the duties set out in the lead statement of the occupational descriptions in the
National Occupation Classification (NOC code 7315 – Aircraft Mechanics and Aircraft
Statutory Declaration of Common-law Union and proof of Common-law relationship
Another common reason for the cancellation of some Express Entry applications is that the applicant does not provide a signed IMM5409 Statutory Declaration of Common-law Union or they do not include proof that they have resided with their common-law partner for period of one year or more. Failure to include these documents will result in the cancellation of your application.
Applicants must complete the form and sign the form along with their common-law partner in the presence of a lawyer, notary public or commissioner of oaths.
As well as uploading the statutory declaration, applicant must also include proof of their common-law relationship. Please see below for some examples of which documents must be included.
- Signed lease agreement showing both partners included on the lease.
- Joint utility bills dated over one year ago from the time you submit your application. The document should contain both partner names and address.
- Joint bank account statements dated over one year ago from the time you submit your application. The document should contain both partner names and address.
- Separate bills for each applicant dated over one year ago from the time you submit your application. Both bills should have the partner’s name and the same address for each of them.
For a detailed explanation of common-law partnership and the requirements to prove it for a Canadian immigration application, click here.
Language Test Results Have Expired
At the time your PR application is submitted, your approved language test results (IELTS or CELPIP) must be less than 2 years old.
For detailed information on the requirements for English or French language test results for Express Entry, click here.
Having your application cancelled or refused is extremely stressful. This can be avoidable by carefully following the instructions and making sure you submit a complete application.
Contact Doherty Fultz Immigration today to book a review of your application before submitting it to IRCC to ensure that it is complete, and that there are no problems lurking which could lead to a refusal. One of Express Entry professional will review your application to ensure you have met the eligibility of the program you are applying under and will also make sure you have demonstrated that you have the necessary CRS score. We will then review all of the documents you intend to upload to ensure that each documents meet the minimum requirements.
If your Federal Skilled Worker, Canadian Experience Class, Federal Skilled Trades, or Provincial Nominee Program Express Entry application has already been refused, contact us to determine your options including getting your detailed refusal notes.
Sections of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and Regulations used to refuse Express Entry Applications
Form and content of application
10 (1) Subject to paragraphs 28(b) to (d) and 139(1)(b), an application under these Regulations shall
(a) be made in writing using the form, if any, provided by the Department or, in the case of an application for a declaration of relief under subsection 42.1(1) of the Act, by the Canada Border Services Agency;
(b) be signed by the applicant;
(c) include all information and documents required by these Regulations, as well as any other evidence required by the Act;
(d) be accompanied by evidence of payment of the applicable fee, if any, set out in these Regulations; and
(e) if there is an accompanying spouse or common-law partner, identify who is the principal applicant and who is the accompanying spouse or common-law partner.
(2) The application shall, unless otherwise provided by these Regulations,
(a) contain the name, birth date, address, nationality and immigration status of the applicant and of all family members of the applicant, whether accompanying or not, and a statement whether the applicant or any of the family members is the spouse, common-law partner or conjugal partner of another person;
(b) indicate whether they are applying for a visa, permit or authorization;
(c) indicate the class prescribed by these Regulations for which the application is made;
(c.1) if the applicant is represented in connection with the application, include the name, postal address and telephone number, and fax number and electronic mail address, if any, of any person or entity — or a person acting on its behalf — representing the applicant;
(c.2) if the applicant is represented, for consideration in connection with the application, by a person referred to in any of paragraphs 91(2)(a) to (c) of the Act, include the name of the body of which the person is a member and their membership identification number;
(c.3) if the applicant has been advised, for consideration in connection with the application, by a person referred to in any of paragraphs 91(2)(a) to (c) of the Act, include the information referred to in paragraphs (c.1) and (c.2) with respect to that person;
(c.4) if the applicant has been advised, for consideration in connection with the application, by an entity — or a person acting on its behalf — referred to in subsection 91(4) of the Act, include the information referred to in paragraph (c.1) with respect to that entity or person; and
(d) include a declaration that the information provided is complete and accurate.
Exception — adoption
(2.1) An application to sponsor and the accompanying application for permanent residence for a person described in paragraph 117(1)(b) involving an international adoption or another person referred to in paragraph 117(1)(g) can be submitted without the information referred to in paragraph 10(2)(a) concerning that person but that information must be provided before the application is approved.
(2.1) For greater certainty, neither the information referred to in subparagraphs 12.3(b)(i) and (ii) nor the fee referred to in section 315.1 form part of the application.
Application of family members
(3) The application is considered to be an application made for the principal applicant and their accompanying family members.
Invitation — application for permanent residence
12.01 An application for permanent residence that is made in response to an invitation issued by the Minister under Division 0.1 of the Act must be made by the electronic means that is made available or specified by the Minister for that purpose.
Visa or other document not to be issued
11.2 (1) An officer may not issue a visa or other document in respect of an application for permanent residence to a foreign national who was issued an invitation under Division 0.1 to make that application if — at the time the invitation was issued or at the time the officer received their application — the foreign national did not meet the criteria set out in an instruction given under paragraph 10.3(1)(e) or did not have the qualifications on the basis of which they were ranked under an instruction given under paragraph 10.3(1)(h) and were issued the invitation.
(2) Despite subsection (1), an officer may issue the visa or other document if, at the time the officer received their application,
(a) the foreign national did not meet the criteria set out in an instruction given under paragraph 10.3(1)(e) — or did not have the qualifications on the basis of which they were ranked under an instruction given under paragraph 10.3(1)(h) — because the applicant’s birthday occurred after the invitation was issued; or
(b) the foreign national did not have the qualifications they had at the time the invitation was issued and on the basis of which they were ranked under an instruction given under paragraph 10.3(1)(h), but
(i) they met the criteria set out in an instruction given under paragraph 10.3(1)(e), and
(ii) they occupied a rank that is not lower than the rank that a foreign national was required to have occupied to be invited to make an application.