All about the Letter of Explanation (LoE)

Document preparation

Under some circumstances, applicants may have to add a Letter of Explanation (LoE) to their immigration application. As the name suggests, the LoE is exactly what it sounds like i.e. to explain something that needs clarification. However, you do not have to explain each supporting document that you are submitting along with your application.

R10 Completeness Check and LoE

The completeness check is the first stage of the application processing. At the completeness check, the processing office determines only whether the required documents are included according to the document checklist requirements in place at the time the application is received. This stage is also called R10 which refers to section 10 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations.

If your application is found to be incomplete (that is, if it does not meet the requirements pursuant to section R10), the Central Intake Office (CIO) returns the incomplete application package, along with the fees, to the applicant and records the action in GCMS. If the Letter of Explanation (LoE) explains satisfactorily the reason for any missing document, then the visa officer may allow extension of time limit for submission of the document and move the application ahead pending the submission of the document. Applications can also be refused for typo’s and applicants should “double check” their application before submitting. See this court case as an example.

How to write a Letter of Explanation?

Here are some simple rules to follow to write an effective Letter of Explanation;

  • Should be short, concise and factual.
  • Only provide truthful and accurate information.
  • Keep it to 1-2 pages. If you cannot explain the issue in 1-2 pages then it may not be worthwhile.
  • IRCC agents/officers do read the LoE, however if its too long and not on point then it may loose its significance.
  • You DO NOT need an index for your documents. The IRCC system gives you a personalized document checklist once you’ve completed all of the fields in the online form.
  • Only use the LoE to explain an issue. Examples;
    • did not meet the proof of funds requirements
    • unable to obtain a reference letter on a letterhead
    • seeking an exemption from the police clearance certificate
    • to explain something in your application which is not clear

Is there a specific format for the LoE?

There is no specific format as such to the Letter of Explanation. The LoE is a single document which should be short, concise and factual (ideally 1 page, maximum 2 pages) and addresses any issues there may be in your application. LoE is only required to explain something that is not apparent and needs clarification.

If all your supporting documents need a LoE, then there may be something wrong with how you are putting your application together. In that case you should revisit the program requirements e.g. see the Express Entry permanent residence program requirements

Remember that the LoE is not a synopsis of your immigration application and things like police clearance certificate, medicals, proof of funds, passport, etc. generally do not need an explanation. Also, if you make any changes post ITA (Invitation to Apply), and it does not impact your CRS (Comprehensive Ranking System) and MEC (Minimum entry criteria), there is usually no need for a LoE.

Does the LoE have to be merged with every document?

No, you do not have to merge a LoE with every supporting document you provide along with your application. Instead, list out the issues and address them in a single document and submit it in the slot provided specifically for the LoE.

Does the LoE need to be notarized?

No, the LoE does not need to be notarized. It does not need to be self attested either.

Letter of Explanation (LoE) Sample

Below is a sample Letter of Explanation that you can customize to your situation. Remember to keep the letter short and factual, if its too long the letter may loose its importance.

Disclaimer: this is a guideline and is provided for sample purposes only. Please edit to suit your circumstances as necessary; be sure to only provide truthful and accurate information in your application.

Letter of Explanation

Primary Applicant : Full Name as per your passport, UCI: XXX-XXX [if available])

  1. [Subheading]
  2. Job Experience Letters
  3. Proof of Funds

You can add as many sections as applicable that you need to explain.

Secondary Applicant : Full Name as per your passport, UCI: XXX-XXX [if available])

  1. [Subheading]

Why does the LoE not appear under additional documents?

Submitted your documents online and the LoE does not appear under additional documents? This is a known technical issue where the LoE window disappears. How to fix the issue? – try clearing your browser cache or log into your online account using the incognito mode.

What are the requirements for a reference or experience letter from the employer?

The following documents are mandatory for each work experience declared:

  • 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 company),
  • 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

If it is not possible to obtain the above information on the employer’s official letter head then secondary documents such as an appointment letter, contract, payslips, bonus letters, tax forms, etc. will suffice and should be explained in the LoE.

In conclusion

There is no specific format to the LoE but it should be short, concise and factual (ideally 1 page, maximum 2 pages) and addresses any issues there may be in your application.

Thank you for reading!
Canada Visa Status - The only way to know the most detailed information of an application is by requesting GCMS Notes. GCMS is the most comprehensive and up-to-date information that can be obtained to understand the status of a visa application or to learn the details about a visa refusal.  It offers far more detail than IRCC’s online system and you can order your GCMS Notes online
Disclaimer - Material contained within this website is intended for informational purposes only and is provided as a service to the Canada visa applicant community. These materials do not, and are not, intended to constitute legal advice.