You’re going to apply under one of the Canadian immigration categories. You’ve collected the forms. You’ve reviewed our video tutorials (hopefully). You’ve also followed the CIC checklists and instructions, collected your evidence and supporting paperwork for your category.
Ready to submit, right?
You need a cover letter. Well, you don’t need one in the sense that it’s a required document, but it can sure help your application. A visa officer is a human being, and a cover letter that sets the stage for your application puts him or her in a better mood, as all the pertinent facts are summarized right at the beginning, so he or she knows how to approach the file.
More importantly, a cover letter lets you put your most compelling facts or evidence before the visa officer from the outset. It can make a positive impression on the officer, and hopefully that positive impression influences his or her review of your application.
But what do you put in a cover letter?
Here are the top XX things you should put in a cover letter. I’m going to use a sponsorship application for a married couple as an example in this post (I’ll cover other applications in future posts). These aren’t the only things (each cover letter is unique to an individual’s specific facts and exact category of immigration), but they are essential.
1) Names and dates
It’s a good idea to open your cover letter with the name of the sponsor (with “sponsor” after the name) and the principal applicant (with “sponsored spouse” after the name), including ages and birth dates. Include the category under which you are applying (“family class, spousal”) to immigrate, and the names, birth dates of any accompanying dependents. This way, the visa officer knows (for example), that this is a family of four, with a male Canadian sponsor and one minor child applying for sponsorship.
2) In-Canada or Out-of-Canada
There are two processes for sponsorship. Indicate if you are applying under the in-Canada or out-of-Canada stream. Each uses different forms, and has different evidentiary requirements.
3) Ask for an opportunity to address outstanding issues
As an element of procedural fairness in immigration law, it is often the case that applicants should have an opportunity to address concerns that visa officers may have. Politely reminding the visa officer of this fact is a good idea, and it puts it on the record.
4) Summary of period before the wedding
Although you’ve provided some of this information in your forms, it is good practise to summarize it in the cover letter as well. How did you meet? What did you do after meeting? What did your dating life look like? At what point did you get serious enough to consider marriage? Who proposed and when? How much time did you spend together before the wedding?
Why write all this information? You’re beginning to address the question of whether this is a genuine marriage or one made primarily for immigration purposes. The more detail you have, the better.
5) Summary of wedding
Again, even though this information is in the forms, summarize it in your letter as well. Where was it? Who attended? Religious or civil ceremony? Why?
You’re telling a story here that the visa officer can follow and understand. Visa officers who follow and understand are more likely to approve if all the evidence is in order.
6) What happened after the wedding?
So you got married, great. What happened next? If there was a honeymoon, describe it in detail. If not, then give a compelling reason why. Perhaps funds are tight, maybe one of you had to get back to work. Whatever the reason, be sure to say something about the absence of a honeymoon.
7) Where do you plan to live after permanent residence is approved?
Permanent residence is not granted if the visa officer believes that the couple won’t immediately live together in Canada after permanent residence is approved. So state that you plan to live at 123 Cherrywood Lane, Toronto, Ontario (or whatever your address is) as soon as permanent residence is approved.
This step is critically important for those couples living abroad, where a Canadian citizen is sponsoring his or her spouse and the sponsor does not reside in Canada. In this case, you need a pretty detailed plan detailing why you won’t stay in your home country, why you want to move to Canada, and your detailed plan to move to Canada. In fact, I often prepare affidavits and other evidence in this instance, as this is such a crucial part of the application.
These are seven essential elements of a cover letter for a sponsorship application to immigrate to Canada. These are not the only elements – there may be many more depending on your unique circumstances and facts about your case.
About the author
Gianpaolo Panusa is a Canadian immigration lawyer, writer, and founder of the PanCanadian Immigration Law Group based in Vancouver, Canada. Google+ Profile
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A letter of sponsorship is required with each application for all ELI programs (unless the applicant will pay for his/her own studies). There are 2 types of sponsors:
- An individual person who will pay for the student’s courses; or
- A company or organization who will pay for the student’s courses.
Sponsor – Individual
If the student’s tuition will be paid by a person (ex: family member or friend), please use our “sample letter of sponsorship – individual.”
Important: If the sponsor livesor in the USA, then the letter must be notarized.
Sponsor – Organization
If the student’s tuition will be paid by a company or an organization, please use our “sample letter of sponsorship – organization.”
It is very important to follow the instructions on this letter very closely. Letters that do not meet our requirements will be rejected.