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Common Canadian immigration mistakes

Many immigration applications are refused every year because of common mistakes in the application. More than 3,000,00 people migrate to Canada every year, regardless of the reason whether they choose to immigrate for better education, job opportunities or better quality of life, they need to be cautious while filing their application as it will determine the success of the application and eventually probability of their future in Canada.

Canada has many immigration programs, each different set of rules, regulations, and assessment criteria. Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) facilitates the arrival of immigrants to Canada and provides clarity with reference to immigration program requirements. Despite the transparency, it is evident that applicants make mistakes which result in application rejection or return.

Most common mistakes made by applicants for their Canadian immigration application:

Mistakes in gathering documents

Proper documentation plays an important role in immigration process. With many documents to be submitted in the application, it takes a lot of attention to detail to avoid mistake of forgetting some necessary documentation/information or missing the deadline. Document collection requires good organization skills and attention to detail regarding deadline and criteria. A simple mistake and unmentioned details in the documents can delay the application process. All information you provide in your immigration process to Canada must be accompanied by evidence, which includes income tax, payment receipts, proof of employment, marriage and birth certificates, passports, school transcripts and many more. All information provided at the express entry profile stage for the purpose of generating a CRS score is self-reported and must be supported with appropriate documentation from the applicant at the application stage or the application could be refused.

The documents which are not in Canada’s official language (English or French) must be translated by a certified translator before being sent to the IRCC.

In paper-based applications, applicants have an option of sending copies of the required documents, but sometimes an original document (e.g. Police Clearance Certificate, IELTS or CELPIP certificate etc.) and a certified copy is required.

Insufficient language test scores

Proof of language proficiency in English or French is required by various permanent and temporary residency programs. Language proficiency is defined according to the Canadian Level Benchmark (CLB) system. The applicants are assessed for proof of language ability under reading, writing, speaking, listening, or a combination of the four. The candidates must meet minimum CLB levels in all language abilities being evaluated for a program. Depending on the immigration program (e.g. Study Visa, Work Visa, Provincial Nomination Programs, Permanent Residency Visa etc.), different standardized tests (General or Academic) are accepted as a language aptitude verification.

Language requirements for specific program must be double checked and make sure that you meet or exceed the minimum levels in each language ability. Language test results (IELTS or CELPIP) are valid only for two years. You must assure that language test results are valid throughout the application process especially after submitting the electronic application for permanent residency.

Language tests results that have expired will trigger the rejection of the profile from the Express Entry pool. The candidate will be informed by a letter sent to his/her MyCIC account. Once the profile is rejected/expired, the candidate needs to create a new profile from the start.

You should be aware of when the language test results will expire and should make necessary arrangements to re-take the test and update the Express Entry profile with new test results, as required.

Police Certificate is not as per IRCC guidelines

Applicant and his/her family members (18 or older) need to provide a police certificate in their permanent residency application. Police certificate is required from every country where the applicant or family member stayed during the last 10 years for 6 months or more in a row. Police certificates are different in each country and territory. They may be called police clearance certificates, good conduct certificates, judicial record extracts or may have other names.

If police certificate is in a language other than English or French, provide the original police certificate along with a translation from a certified translator. If you are unable to get a police certificate from a country you should write a letter explaining all the efforts you have taken to get one, and also include proof that you requested a police certificate from the correct authorities.

For an example, applicants applying for permanent residency and had lived in Australia need to provide Australian National Police Certificate (Standard Disclosure – name check only), traffic history (if lived in Queensland) and full licence history search (if lived in Victoria). It is advisable to apply at embassy or consulate for obtaining police certificate of home country.

Not proving intention to reside outside of Quebec

As a Canadian permanent resident, your right to live and work anywhere in Canada is protected under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. However, you should ideally apply for a Quebec immigration program if you are currently living or working in Quebec and intend to stay in Quebec after the successful completion of your immigration application.

If you are currently living and working in Quebec and applying for permanent residency through federal program, you should state a sworn declaration of your intent to reside outside of Quebec after the successful completion of your immigration application. You can also provide a detailed explanation to the officer with documentary evidences (e.g. proof of family ties, job offer, letter of acceptance for higher studies etc.)  that although you may be working or living in Quebec now, upon approval of your immigration application, you will move outside the province of Quebec.

Employment letter do not meet requirements

Employment letter is an important document required in various immigration programs to demonstrate work experience. The reference letter must include position held, hours, salary and working conditions, description of job duties, employer’s signature and must be printed on company letterhead along with company information such as address and contact information. Non-detailed or missing information in an employment letter may result in it not being recognized as a proof of work experience.

The companies/employers usually have their own set of templates/standards for issuing experience/reference letter and may not complying with immigration requirements. Providing a basic template to the employer/company outlining the requirements can also help. In case, your employer/company is not able to issue the job letter meeting all requirements because of their standards and/or policies, you may still use the same document. However, you should state a sworn declaration describing all circumstances and include a reference letter from co-worker/supervisor/manager.

Listing ineligible dependents

The principal applicant can list dependents as only spouses, common-law partners, and/or eligible biological or legally adopted children for their Canadian permanent residency applications. Parents and siblings are not considered as legal dependents of the candidate. The mistake of including them in the application may slow down the immigration process.

Make sure that only your eligible dependents are listed as dependents in the application.

Inconsistencies in personal history

Individuals are required to list a detailed travel history, personal history, employment history, and/or educational history for applications like permanent residency and temporary residency. The history should not account for any gaps with unexplained details, no matter the length of the gap.

You should also include short vacations/travels under travel history section. For personal history, periods of time when you were unemployed or were applying for higher studies should still be accounted for. You should make sure that dates align properly with no overlapping.

Less than one year of continuous full-time experience

Most of the federal immigration programs for permanent residency require to have at least one year of skilled full-time or equivalent work experience in last 3 or 10 years. Experience that does not fall under NOC 0, A, or B, will not be considered and the application will be eventually refused. Caution must be taken while indicating a primary NOC code on your Express Entry profile.

It is advisable to indicate only the primary NOC code that you can prove you have at least one year (full-time or equivalent) of skilled experience in last 3 or 10 years. Points are awarded for skilled work experience and therefore, experience gained in different NOC’s can also be considered. Primary NOC code does not affect the employment prospects in Canada. Once you are a Canadian permanent resident, you are free to work in any position or industry you wish.


Presenting incorrect or misleading information to the Canadian government may lead to delay in application or even cause it to be rejected. Applicant could also be barred from applying for Canadian immigration for several years. So be extremely careful with providing information and documents.

It is advisable to be honest about the details of your application, including employment history and any medical or criminality issues with the principle applicant or accompanying family members. Not all the medical or criminal issues are a barrier for Canadian immigration. If you are not sure about mentioning these issues, you can consult with a professional or simply list anything of concern and leave it to the discretion of the visa officer.

Believing express entry is the only solution

According to the candidate’s immigration objective and profile, there are many ways to migrate to Canada. This includes not only Express Entry programs but also Provincial Nomination Programs, global stream, start-up visa, and family sponsorship, business class, self employed, humanitarian and compassionate programs.

It is of utmost importance to determine the right program according to your immigration needs.

Not planning ahead

Immigration process is not quick and easy. It requires thorough research and expertise for meeting the criteria set by the Canadian Government. Applicants should plan well ahead and collect necessary documents like proof of work experience, educational transcripts, proof of funds and their translations, an English proficiency test score, educational credential assessment, a document that validates your diploma and its equivalence in Canada.

The best time to apply for Canadian immigration is once you qualify and meet the requirements. Do not wait too long to put your plan to immigrate to Canada in action as age is one of the factors that influences your points under express entry, and in addition, language proficiency, educational credential assessment, and other documents have an expiration date.

Disobeying conditions of the permit or immigration status

Whether you are a visitor, worker, or student, you should be aware about the conditions described in your status/permit. Disobeying the conditions (e.g. stay longer than allowed, or work or study without the proper permits) on the permit/status might lead to grounds for rejection, inadmissible and/or invalidation of the permit/status.

International students can only work part-time (20 h per week) during their full-time studies (Government’s current temporary policy allows students to work full-time who are working in essential occupation/services). An employer specific or LMIA based work permit allows only to work with the employer(s) mentioned on their work permit.

Dismissing the help of professional

To minimize mistakes like those above, many individuals choose to hire a representative to assist them with their application. Candidates should be vigilant and keep a check that the representative chosen must be a lawyer or immigration consultant authorized by the government to assist Canadian immigration applicants.

If you are looking for a representative, do not hesitate to ask for their professional credentials. An immigration lawyer must be registered with the law society in their province of residence and an Immigration Consultant by the ICCRC (Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulation Council).

Immigrating to Canada is exiting but, sometime may be a daunting process, filled with challenges and complexities. Canadian immigration is a life-changing opportunity for applicants and their families. The decision on most of the application is based on the information and/or documents provided during submission and therefore, it is of the utmost importance that applicants complete their immigration applications with due diligence and care. You should make your dream into reality by avoiding easy mistakes through attention to detail and careful planning.

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