Last Updated on May 10, 2022 by Allard John Keeley
Some say that your Summary Letter (LOE) is one of the more important documents, if not the most important document, in your immigration package. This is the document that clearly answers the following questions for the Canadian immigration officer reviewing your application:
What is a Letter of Explanation, also called Summary Letter for Canadian Immigration?
Some say that your Summary Letter is one of the more important documents, if not the most important document, in your immigration package. This is the document that clearly answers the following questions for the Canadian immigration officer reviewing your application:
- Does this person qualify for this application?
- How to they qualify? – what is the supporting documentation
This letter is known by a few names, most call it a Summary Letter, but it’s also called, Submission letter, Letter of Explanation (LOE), and cover letter.
Tip: When to use a template vs. when to write a Summary Letter methodically: Use a template with a straightforward application but any complexity needs care, attention and experience.
Who needs a Summery Letter for Canadian immigration, and who can skip it?
First, technically everyone needs a summary letter but the reality is very few people that are filing their own applications will take the time to create one. Even people in the legal industry will not use one at times because the application request is minor or just they are lazy.
The good immigration news is so many poorly completed applications must be sitting on the desk of that immigration officer. When they get yours, it will be a sigh of relief, seeing your professionally written, well argued, perfectly completed application. It can make even weak cases look a lot stronger.
People submitting simple applications can all skip the letter, unless you have some complexity in your case (see examples below).
Examples of when you should and when you shouldn’t use a Summary Letter for Canadian immigration:
PR Card renewal application: You can skip the letter BUT anyone whose status in is jeopardy – anyone who has been outside of Canada for 1,000 days or more out of the last 5 years – should really provide a summary letter.
All Sponsorship applications, PNP applications or even normal Express Entry immigration applications (FSW, CEC, FST) should include summary letters (LOEs).
A simple application with a unique circumstance should include a summary letter. Any application with multi-jurisdictional problems should include a summary letter. Example: you’re filing an application but you need to explain to Canadian immigration that you are missing a document. (Example: ‘I can’t get this document from the check list because my home country does not issue it anymore’.)
Summary Letter for Immigroup’s Spousal Sponsorship Course
We’re at Step 25 and we have more than 10 more chapters to go to lay out, step by step, how to put together a successful sponsorship application. You are likely getting a pretty good idea of the sheer volume of information – forms and supporting documents of all sorts from around the world – that a sponsorship application potentially can contain.
Now imagine you’re an IRCC official who has to review countless numbers of these applications and make a decision on each one of them. This is not an easy job to do.
Now imagine you receive a sponsorship application which has a Summary Letter right at the top of the package, and that Summary Letter tells the official:
- That this applicant indeed qualifies for permanent residency, and
- How this applicant qualifies – briefly and concisely and point by point – for permanent residency
- Precisely who the applicant is, how many people are being sponsored, and where in the application all this information satisfying IRCC’s criteria can be found.
You have just provided a clear framework for decision-making on the part of the IRCC official.
Can a good Summary Letter get a person with serious criminality accepted as a permanent resident? No, almost certainly not.
But can a well-written Summary Letter tip the balance in your favour in a complex application with some issues that might hinder your success? Absolutely.
One of the first things you have to realize is that there is no standard one-size-fits-all Summary Letter. Each letter will depend on the specifics of the applicant’s situation and address all the concerns that an IRCC official may have about the merits of their case.
It will provide a clear narrative that links together all the forms and documents involved.
In our in-depth article on summary letters, you should click on the links for sample Summary Letters and take a few minutes to read through one.
The detail that can be covered is impressive because of the orderly way it is presented. It makes it easy for an officer to read through it and check off each item of concern that they often have with any specific type of application.
If you’re a lawyer, or very good at effective and detailed written communication, then you can have a shot at writing the letter yourself.
You really should also consider getting professional help in putting one together. It really can make the difference between success and failure.
When the following is true:
- Your case is complicated – most sponsorship applications are, and
- You need your application to be processed relatively quickly – in order not to keep your spouse/partner waiting abroad or living on tenterhooks in Canada, and
- You don’t have the time to put a good letter together – writing the summary letter will inevitably involve reviewing your overall application so it will be time-consuming,
Then you should hire a professional to write your Summary Letter, or as they are sometimes called, Letter of Explanation (LOE).
Overall, between $500 and $1,500 – depending on the complexity of your case – is a reasonable range to expect for a professional to write your summary letter. (Of course, if you’ve hired someone to submit your application for you, the summary letter should be part of this service.
- If Immigroup handles your application from end to end, your Summary Letter is included in the overall service price. Keep that in mind.
- For a sponsorship application your Summary Letter will be written by an Immigration Consultant or Paralegal who has a lot of experience handling sponsorship applications and has done dozens of summary letters and understands the matter thoroughly.
- For some complex cases expert consultants or lawyers may be needed – the big guns in other words.
So, take a few minutes and review our article here to see just how important a Summary Letter is.
You might want to just get Immigroup to help you out with your Summary Letter, or get more involved, but that’s your call.
However, let’s say you want to give it a shot and put one together yourself. Here’s a good way to proceed.
- In step 15 we brought up the Sponsorship To Do List document where you put down all the questions and uncertainties you have as you work through each form and gather your documents. You can use this document to keep a record of all the gaps in your work and personal life where you may not have the information that IRCC requests. Often it’s information you have to give in one of the many forms you have to fill out – for example:
- A company you worked for may have gone bankrupt so you can’t get a reference letter from them.
- A former partner or spouse has not communicated with you in years and they cannot sign a document or they have not signed a divorce document for example even though the court awarded you a divorce.
- A parent might not be located for similar reasons – they no longer have any contact with you.
- For each of the gaps you find as you complete your application, you will need to provide a clear and concise explanation to immigration officials. You might be able to provide alternative evidence or at least give a hopefully convincing reason why you cannot provide the required document.
- These explanations are the main body of your Summary Letter. You should also have an introduction and address the letter cordially to IRCC (something like Dear Officer is fine) and then explain you will be addressing any concerns they may have.
- Most Summary Letters are a couple of pages long at most, but if your case is complex and there are a number of gaps in required information you may need an extra page or two. Keep it as simple as possible, however. The objective is to make the official’s decision easier to take.
So, keep these points in mind as you read over some of our sample Letters of Explanation or Summary Letters and see how they deal with gaps in required information.
Then start putting together your own Summary Letter.
When do you hire Immigroup and when to write your own Summary Letter?
Do it yourself:
- It is not a complicated application, I just what things to look clean and professional
- It is a little complicated, but the case is not that confusing. I am an excellent writer; I have written business letters and I have submitted applications to the government before.
When do you hire Immigroup?
- My case is complicated.
- I need the Canadian immigration officer to complete my application as quickly as possible.
- I don’t have the time to do this myself.
I am thinking of shopping around, what is a reasonable price to pay for a Summary Letter/Letter of Explanation?
The price of a review of a Summary Letter in the immigration industry can be all over the place. We have seen prices as low as $150 all the way to $2000. The reality is price is just one important indicator, the second factor and the more important one, is the experience of your consultant.
- First off, someone asking for $150 for a letter will give you low quality work, so you are better off not wasting your time and money. Paying $150 for a Summary Letter means you’re not getting a good deal, rather only false hope and almost certain disappointment.
- The other extreme of $2000, could be a good thing or a bad thing: In the legal industry when someone does not want to do something because, for example, they are too busy or, even worse, they are apprehensive because they have lack of experience; instead of being honest they quote an extremely high price. This is a legal practitioner’s way of telling you to get lost. They do this because one in ten potential clients will actually say yes. I am assuming these clients must think, ‘wow, they must be really good if they ask for such a high price!’ Again, in most cases this is a trap you don’t what to fall for. There is the occasional exception of the amazing legal perfectionist with 20 years of experience, the rock stars of our industry, which do deserve this amount. But more likely you will end up paying a top fee for mediocre results.
- So, what is a reasonable price for a letter? A good price would be between $500 (little complexity) to $1500 (a lot of complexity) which is a reasonable standard to pay for a Summary Letter.
TIP: Did you know that Summary Letters are included with a full Immigroup service for any application?
Who at Immigroup will write my Summary Letter (LOE) for Canadian immigration?
This depends on the complexity and type of application. For example, if you are doing a Spousal Sponsorship, it will likely end up going to an immigration consultant or a paralegal who does a lot of these types of applications. These are licensed and regulated individuals that who regularly include summary letters in applications they submit to the Canadian government and have lots of experience.
If your case is complex, we will send it to a specialist – no choice here we need to call for the big guns. Some are lawyers, some are consultants, but all are very respected in their field.
Using Immigroup to write a Summary Letter
- Scan and email your applications to us – including all supporting documents (example: Sponsorship) – [email protected]
- Once you have sent us your package, we will contact you by email in 1 or 2 business days after we have evaluated the cost to write a summary letter regarding your case. We will send you a payment request link (at this time you can refuse to pay and we will delete your personal information).
- Once payment is sent, it will take our team 5 to 10 business days to review your documents and write your Summary Letter.
Average cost for a summary letter $225 easy, $550 to $750 normal case, and $1500+ challenging case.
Tip: Because your immigration specialist needs to review your documents to write the Summary Letter, you can request for them to make corrections to your application. Additional charges will apply.
Summary Letter Terms of Service
- Summary Letters do not come with use of representation, this service is extra.
- All Summary Letter are completed by regulated immigration consultants or paralegals.
- If you need one of our lawyers to do this for you, additional charges will apply.
HIRE IMMIGROUP TO WRITE YOUR SUMMARY LETTER
Riley Haas has been a leading expert since 2011 on immigration matters, with hundreds of publications online. Published author of three books about political philosophy, the Beatles and the Toronto Maple Leafs, respectively. BA from Bishop’s University, MA from McMaster University. You follow Riley on Substack https://rileyhaas.substack.com.