Getting A Reference Letter When Your Employer Won’t Give You One

Post your ITA, one of the documents that you may find challenging to arrange is a reference letter from your employer. The most popular reason being that some companies have a template that they will not change even at the cost of a cosmic collapse. In other cases, the employer has either shut shop, is hard to reach, or simply refuses to give you one. Fear not, there are always workarounds.

A reference letter is confirmation of your claimed work experience. This makes it a pretty important document to have on your PR application. And if for whatever reason your employer refuses to give you one, you can always take the following steps to ensure you have a legitimate letter with you.

  1. Reach out to your supervisor, or the most senior colleague in your office, with whom you have a great relationship. Explain your situation and request if they would be willing to provide a reference letter on a plain piece of paper.
  2. Explain to them that there are no legal implications to them giving you this letter. Neither them or the company is liable if you don’t get the PR. It is not a certificate of employment, just a reference from a colleague attesting your employment. (Note: If your supervisor/colleague is too concerned, then just find someone else)
  3. Here’s a template of the reference letter that I made and used for my application. My company refused to give me a reference letter, so I got this from my supervisor. Please note that Hours of Work, Type of Employment, Responsibilities are the most important data points the visa officer will look for. So ensure you have this on your letter.
Sample Reference Letter Template

4. You could get a similar letter for every company that you have worked for. Ensure that the roles and responsibilities of the NOC MATCH with the responsibilities you put in this letter. This doesn’t mean you have to copy it. Simply ensure that parts of your NOC sound similar to your roles and responsibilities.

5. Along with this letter, please attach these documents below

  • Employment letter / offer letter
  • Last 6 months of payslip
  • Bonafide certificate from your employer (you can get this for literally anything, like opening a bank account. Doesn’t matter)
  • A copy of your reference’s ID card
  • Your reference’s business card

6. Also attach a letter of explanation (LoE) to your application stating that as per corporate policy your employer could not give you a formal reference letter and that is why you had to provide a reference letter from your supervisor instead.

7. The letter does not have to be notarized. So don’t waste your time doing this.

8. In case the company you worked for has shut down then mention it in your Letter of Employment, and secure a reference letter from a colleague who worked with you at the time.


That’s it. This is all you will need for a reference letter. If it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is. Good luck!

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