Settlement funds and Express Entry
by Michael Scott
Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada regularly update the proof of funds required for Express Entry candidates, or skilled worker applicants. The recent change announced on May 2, 2023, was effective on April 25. Proof of funds are updated annually and are based on 50 per cent of the low-income cut-off totals or LICO. If you are considering applying under Express Entry you need to be aware of the requirement and must present supporting documentation.
This is the area where many speak about “show money,” but this should not be confused with “money to show,” which many regard as fraud. The term “show money” should be avoided because it sends a wrong message. Use settlement instead and ensure that the statements you make are honest and the money you are declaring is yours to use.
Proof of funds demonstrates that you have enough money to settle in Canada and will not become a burden on the wider Canadian society. LICO numbers are based on a calculation of how much money a family of one, or adjusted by family size, needs to support themselves in Canada for six months. This is the standard, which Canada uses in many application streams, such as skilled worker, or sponsorship of parents and grandparents (LICO plus 30 per cent). The recent announcement is revealing because of the way the LICO is adjusted for applicants under Express Entry. It differs by the stream.
First anyone candidate who receives an invitation to apply (ITA) from Express Entry must be able to show written proof that they have the funds they require. However, if they are inside Canada and applying under the Canadian Experience Class, they do not need to show that they have enough money to support themselves and their families. They are exempt because they are authorized to work in Canada and have a valid offer. The applicants often have demonstrated that they are able to work and live in Canada over an extended period of time. The “proof is in the pudding” or the settlement. This exemption will cover those who applied from abroad under the Federal Skilled Worker or Federal Skilled Trades programs but only if they have a valid job offer to come to in Canada.
The job offer is the key when considering how much settlement money the applicant must present. If you are being invited under the Federal Skilled Worker Program or Federal Skilled Trades program and do not have a confirmed job offer in Canada, you need to present evidence of funds for yourself, your spouse or common-law partner, your dependent children your spouse or common-law partner’s dependent children. The amounts vary by the family size. The current amounts, effective on April 25, 2023, are:
Family Size – Funds Required (CDN$)
1 – $13,757
2 – $17,127
3 – $21,055
4 – $25,564
5 – $28,994
6 – $32,700
7 – $36,407
If there are more than seven family members, an additional $3,700 is required for each additional family member.
The required proof for settlement funds includes official letters from banks or financial institutions where you have an account. The accounts should show an average balance over the past six months and outstanding debts. You must show the CBSA that you can legally access the money when you arrive in Canada. This means that you cannot use equity on real property as proof of settlement funds or borrow money from another person. You must be able to show that you can access your funds to support your family even if they are not coming to Canada with you. It would be easier to show your settlement funds if your spouse or partner is not accompanying you to Canada. Otherwise, you and your accompanying spouse can count any money you have together as part of the settlement funds calculation.
Immigration authorities encourage families to bring as much money as possible because the cost of living varies widely throughout Canada. Large cities such as Toronto and Vancouver tend to be more expensive. However, you must honestly declare the funds you are brining into Canada to border officers. Failure to disclose could result in the seizure of funds over $10,000 CDN. This includes cash on hand and other property or capital payable to you. This is one of the reasons why IRCC offers seminars on moving to Canada in order to inform potential immigrants of the requirements. The information sessions are for the benefit of applicants, and we encourage you to attend.
The recent announcement is helpful in advising Express Entry applicants but the responsibility to show adequate settlement funds rests with the applicant, not the border agents (CBSA) or IRCC officers. They enforce the rules and assess your eligibility.
Good luck with your submissions.
Michael Scott is a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant (RCIC, R525678) who has 30 years of experience with Immigration Canada and the Manitoba Provincial Nominee Program. He currently works as a licensed consultant with Immigration Connexion International Ltd. Contact him at 204-691-1166 or 204-227-0292. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.