Proof of funds (POF Canada) is a required component of some applications for Permanent Residence to Canada, in order to ensure that the applicant will have enough money to move to Canada and become established during the time that it takes to find employment. The amount of money needed depends on the family size (principal applicant, spouse or partner and dependent children) and is adjusted yearly to account for increases in the cost of living.
This table shows the minimum amount you need to immigrate to Canada as of April 25, 2023.
|Number of Family Members||Funds Required (in Canadian dollars)|
|If more than 7 people, for each additional family member||$3,706|
How do I prove funds for Express Entry?
IRCC provides specific instructions to Express Entry Candidates regarding the bank letter that is requested to provide proof of funds in an Express Entry application for Permanent Residence to Canada.
Applicants are required to obtain an official letter from one or more financial institutions that lists all current bank and investment accounts and includes all outstanding debts, like credit card debts and loans.
The Proof of Funds letter needs to follow a specific format, including the bank account details outlined below:
- printed on letterhead financial institution’s letterhead
- contains applicant’s name
- includes the financial institution’s contact information (address, telephone number and email address)
- account numbers that pertain to the applicant, the opening date for each account, the average balance for the past six months and the current balance as of the date of the letter
Can I submit bank statements as proof of funds for Express Entry?
It is common to see applicants who intend to submit 6 months worth of bank statements with their Express Entry application, in lieu of obtaining a formal letter from their bank. This is not a recommended strategy, as IRCC has, on occasion, returned applications as incomplete when bank statements were submitted instead of the requested letter. Federal court has ruled in favor of IRCC when this has occurred. This means that the applicant who has their Express Entry application returned as incomplete when submitting only bank statements has no recourse, except to hope to receive a new invitation to apply for Permanent Residence, and at that time submit a perfected application package. There is never any guarantee that another invitation will be issued, so it’s a big risk to take to simply upload bank statements instead of official letters.
Note that many applicants have been successful with uploading bank statements instead of official letters. The issue is not whether someone else has done it successfully. The issue is who would be considered right an immigration officer decided to reject the application as incomplete. In this scenario, IRCC would be correct to reject. It’s better not to take that chance.
What if my bank will not issue a letter that contains the information required by Express Entry?
It’s quite common that a financial institution will not issue a letter that meets IRCC’s requirements. In this situation, you need to write a brief explanation note that advises IRCC your bank has declined to provide a letter that contains the details requested, include whatever letter or statement the bank was willing to provide and compile as much other evidence as possible to show you meet the settlement fund requirement (including your bank statements). The fact that you have attempted to comply with IRCC’s requirements and could not, through no fault of your own, provides a more secure foundation in favor of the applicant in the event that you need to fight to overturn a rejection on the grounds of incompleteness.
Ensure that you have actually requested a letter from the financial institutions. To state that you have made the request, when you have not, could be considered misrepresentation.
Is proof of funds the same as a net worth statement?
Because IRCC requests information about your debts and assets be included in the bank letter, it can seem that a net worth assessment is required. A net worth assessment is not what is prescribed in the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations or IRPR, as shown below:
R76(1)(b) the skilled worker must
(i) have in the form of transferable and available funds, unencumbered by debts or other obligations, an amount equal to one half of the minimum necessary income applicable in respect of the group of persons consisting of the skilled worker and their family members
You will note that the Regulations require proof of unencumbered funds, typically defined as: funds that are not pledged as collateral to cover any outstanding debts.
Therefore, the issue is not what your net worth is, but whether or not you have sufficient unencumbered funds to meet the minimum required settlement funds for immigration to Canada. You can have student loans, credit card debts or a mortgage and still meet the requirement for settlement funds.
As a practical example, consider that Canada’s Express Entry system gives the most points to applicants who are under the age of 30 with a Master’s or PhD level of education – it would stand to reason that those are the very folks who are most likely to have student loan debt. It makes no sense to both target highly educated young people, and exclude them from the same program.
IRCC officers sometimes confuse this, and some applicants have received procedural fairness letters because they have debt and the IRCC officer takes the position that they do not think the applicant has the level of funds needed for the application. Contact our office if you find yourself in this situation, as it is possible to have your application approved with a fulsome response that explains the requirement to the officer, and demonstrates how you have sufficient unencumbered funds even if you have other debt.
Do Provincial Nominees need to provide Proof of Funds for Express Entry?
Yes, some Provincial Nominees through Express Entry pathways need to provide proof of funds when applying for Permanent Residence.
A Provincial Nominee applying for Permanent Residence through the Express Entry system will need to consider which Federal Immigration Program made them eligible to enter the Express Entry pool prior to becoming a Provincial Nominee. The three federal economic immigration programs are the Canadian Experience Class, The Federal Skilled Worker Class and the Federal Skilled Trades Class.
Once you understand which federal program made you eligible to be in the Express Entry pool in order to participate in your province’s Express Entry program, you can review the guidelines in the next section to understand if you need to provide proof of funds or not.
Applicants who obtained a Provincial Nomination through Express Entry because they were eligible for Express Entry under the Federal Skilled Worker Program or Federal Skilled Trades Program only need to provide proof of funds if they are not working legally in Canada, with a valid job offer, at the time of their application.
Who does not need to prove Funds for Express Entry?
Applicants who are eligible under the Canadian Experience Class do not need to show proof of funds. If you are applying for Permanent residence under the Canadian Experience Class and you are asked to upload proof of funds, you can upload a note instead, that says CEC applicants do not need to show funds.
Applicants who are eligible under the Federal Skilled Worker Program or Federal Skilled Trades program who are not working in Canada do need to provide proof of funds. Applicants eligible under these programs who are working in Canada, do not need to provide proof of funds if all of the following apply at the time of invitation, the time of application and the time IRCC is ready to approve the application:
- you are working legally in Canada
- you have a valid job offer
When do I need to show Proof of Funds for Express Entry?
The funds must be accessible and available to you at the time you apply for Permanent Residence and at the time you become landed as a Permanent Resident – whether that be prior to landing inland through the portal or arriving at the port of entry from outside of Canada.
Do Settlement Funds need to be in Canadian currency or a Canadian bank account?
Settlement funds need to be liquid and in your name or the name of your spouse or common law partner, but they do not need to be in Canada. A word of caution if your settlement funds are in a currency other than Canadian dollars. Ensure that you monitor exchange rates in between the time that you submit your application for Permanent Residence and the time that you are set to become landed as a Permanent Resident. You are responsible to ensure that you maintain the minimum required amount of Canadian dollars or the equivalent foreign currency, and you can be refused if currency fluctuations mean that you no longer meet the minimum required amount of settlement funds when it’s time to be landed as a Permanent Resident.
Can I Borrow Money for the Settlement Funds Requirements for Canadian Immigration?
Proof of Funds for Canada Immigration need to be liquid funds that belong to the applicant. They cannot be borrowed from someone else with the expectation that they will be repaid at a later date. The funds can, however, be a gift from a parent or other close friend or relative. As long as the funds have been freely gifted to the applicant and there is no expectation that they will be repaid in the future, they are acceptable as Settlement Funds for immigration to Canada.
Changes to Family Composition during processing of Permanent Residence application
Changes to your family composition while your application is in process affects the level of settlement funds that you need to demonstrate. If you get married, add a common law partner, or add additional family members (children) to your family unit, the funds you are required to demonstrate will increase proportionately. In the event of marriage or a common law relationship, you can add your spouse or partner’s savings to your own, and also use your joint account, if needed, to meet the settlement funds requirement.
Large Cash Deposits in Proof of Settlement Funds
The reason that IRCC asks for your settlement fund numbers for a 6 month period of time is that the immigration officer needs to be satisfied that the money is actually yours and available to help you establish your life in Canada. If your average balance has been relatively stable during that period of time, then no additional explanation is required; however, if you have had large deposits into your account that are out of the ordinary, you will need to provide an explanation of where those funds have originated. If you have sold some personal property during that period and the large deposit are the funds resulting from that sale, ensure that you include copies of any bill of sale to substantiate your claim.
Can I Use Real Estate, Stocks or Retirement Plans as Proof of Settlement Funds
The requirement is that your settlement funds must be liquid and available to you at the time you submit your application for Permanent REsidence as well as at the time you are landed as a Permanent Resident. Real Estate assets, vehicles, fine art or an investment account like stocks and mutual funds do not count as liquid assets until you actually sell them and have the cash in your hands. Whether or not you can use your Retirement Savings as Proof of Funds will depend on whether you can actually withdraw the cash upon demand, or not.
Express Entry is more complicated than it seems…we say it all the time. Proof of funds is one area where we find that clients have a lot of misinformation, and misinformation is dangerous when even a single mistake is fatal to an Express Entry application. Contact our office today to ensure that you are successful with your application for a Permanent Resident visa as part of the Express Entry system.