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An invitation to apply is a document issued by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) to candidates in the Express Entry pool. With an Invitation to Apply, also known as an ITA, a candidate may apply for Canadian permanent residence. Around 80 percent of applications submitted through Express Entry are processed in six months or less.

Invited applicants may immigrate to Canada with their accompanying family members, if applicable. This may include a spouse or common-law partner, as well as any dependent children. All accompanying family members must have been included in the initial Express Entry profile.

A number of preliminary steps must be completed before an applicant may receive an invitation to apply. Moreover, being invited to apply is by no means a guarantee that your application will be accepted — it is therefore crucial to know what to do to make sure that you can make your Canadian immigration goals a reality.

How to receive an invitation to apply (ITA) through Express Entry

In order to receive an Invitation to Apply (ITA) through Express Entry, a candidate must meet two criteria.

First, they must demonstrate eligibility for one of the skilled worker immigration programs that are aligned with Express Entry:

If you are eligible for at least one of these programs, you may create an Express Entry profile and enter the pool of profiles. Once your profile is submitted and deemed eligible, you will be automatically given a score under the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) based on the information provided when you created your Express Entry profile.

The second criteria used to issue ITAs is the Comprehensive Ranking System Score. Express Entry is a competitive immigrant selection system and the CRS score is a points-system used to rank candidates against one another. Only the most competitive candidates receive ITAs.

Understanding the Comprehensive Ranking System

Candidates in the Express Entry pool are given a score out of 1,200 under the Comprehensive Ranking System. This score determines their ranking in the pool. The system is complex and dynamic, and applicants may find ways to increase their score, and thereby their ranking. In doing so, they increase their chances of receiving an invitation to apply.

Under the Comprehensive Ranking System, points are assigned for:

  • Core human capital factors (including age, level of education, proficiency in English and/or French, Canadian work experience);
  • Skill transferability factors; and
  • Additional points factors (including provincial nomination, having a qualifying job offer, previous study in Canada, having a sibling in Canada, and/or French proficiency).

When IRCC conducts one of its periodic draws from the Express Entry pool (also known as rounds of invitations), the highest-ranked candidates are issued an invitation to apply.

So the highest-ranked profiles are always the ones selected based on a cut-off threshold, right? Well, not quite. While that is the case in the majority of draws, IRCC has also conducted a handful of program-specific draws, in which candidates under one of the above-mentioned programs, or candidates with a provincial nomination, may be prioritized for selection.

How can I get an Express Entry invitation to apply?

To receive an invitation to apply for Express Entry, you’ll need to have enough CRS points to meet the cut-off threshold in an Express Entry draw. You may also need to show that you are eligible for a specific program managed through Express Entry, or that you have a provincial nomination, because recently the government of Canada has focused its Express Entry draws on specific candidates and specific programs, rather than simply inviting those with the highest scores.

The Moving2Canada Express Entry CRS Calculator lets you check your eligibility for Express Entry and potential CRS points total at the same time, without you handing over personal contact information. You also receive some initial analysis on how candidates with those eligibility credentials and points totals may perform in the Express Entry pool. No other Express Entry Calculator lets you do all of this, so start filling out your details here!

Receiving an invitation to apply

When IRCC conducts a draw from the pool, candidates who meet the cut-off threshold are invited to apply for permanent residence. The receipt of a precious invitation to apply means they are now in a position to settle in Canada with permanent resident status within a matter of months.

The invitation to apply is valid for 60 calendar days. Extensions are not granted, no matter what. Consequently, it is a good idea for candidates who have not yet been invited to gather, prepare, and review all of their supporting documentation before they receive an invitation to apply. By the time they are invited, and taking into account the 60-day validity, it may already be too late to get everything in order.

If a candidate misses the 60-day deadline, the invitation to apply is no longer valid. The candidate does have the option to decline the invitation. In this case, the candidate will have their profile returned to the Express Entry pool (if they are still eligible) and will be considered in future Express Entry draws.

Upon receiving an ITA, applicants should check they meet the minimum cut off for the draw. This includes checking that they are still eligible for the immigration program selected for and that they continue to meet the CRS cut off for the draw. In the event that the applicant is not eligible or does not meet the CRS cut off, any application they submit has a high chance of refusal. In the case, applicants should consider declining the invitation.

In cases where applicant qualifies for more than 1 immigration program, it is important to check under which  program the ITA was issued. On submitting the electronic application for permanent residence (eAPR), the applicant may need to provide documentation specific to the immigration program they were selected under. For instance, an applicant may qualify for the Canadian Experience Class, and the Federal Skilled Worker Program only because they have an Aunt who lives in Canada. If they are selected under the FSW program, they will need to provide documentation to demonstrate their relationship to their Aunt. If they did not, their application would likely be refused. However, if they were selected under the CEC program, as this is not an eligibility factor, they would not need to provide this documentation.

Documentation required for your invitation to apply (ITA)

When a candidate creates an Express Entry profile, he or she needs to upload proof of language ability and, in most cases, proof of education level. Everything else is self-declared. When an application is made, however, much more documentation will need to be submitted.

There is no ‘one size fits all’ documentation checklist for invited candidates. The checklist may depend on the program under which you are invited, your civil status, your nationality, your work or education history, or other factors.

That being said, all applicants-to-be have to submit copies of the following:

Even in the short list above, former employers may be difficult to track down, and even when you have found them it may prove doubly difficult to get them to write a reference letter, as required. Additionally, applicants need to submit a police clearance certificate (also known as a background check) from each country they have lived in for six months or longer since the age of 18. Depending on the country, this could result in having to navigate a complex bureaucracy.

Depending on the situation, any of the following documents may also need to be submitted:

  • Translations to English or French (if documents are in a language other than these)
  • Copies of work contracts and/or pay stubs
  • Documents relating to income taxation
  • Canadian Education Credential OR Educational Credential Assessment (ECA)
  • Official transcripts of post-secondary education study program courses taken
  • Secondary education documents
  • Original letter from a Canadian employer indicating an offer of arranged employment
  • Proof of family relationship(s) in Canada
  • Proof of settlement funds
  • Legal documents showing changes in name or date of birth
  • Marriage certificate(s)
  • Signed Statutory Declaration of Common-law Union and documents attesting to cohabitation for a period of at least 12 months
  • Divorce or annulment certificate(s)
  • Death certificate(s) for former spouse(s) or common-law partner(s)
  • Children’s birth certificates
  • Adoption papers
  • Proof of full custody for children
  • Travel documents (non-passport)
  • Certified copy of a certificate of qualification in a skilled trade occupation issued by a Canadian province or territory
  • Letter(s) of explanation
  • Affidavit

Candidates in the pool should gather as many of these documents as possible as early as possible in the process, as applicable.

All documents must be uploaded and submitted electronically. Learn more about accepted file formats and file sizes.

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Misrepresentation in Canadian immigration

Any candidate or applicant who has been found to have provided false or misleading information at any stage of the process can be banned from immigrating to, or even visiting, Canada for a five-year period. This is known as misrepresentation.

Even errors made in good faith, without malicious intent, may be considered misrepresentation. An example of this could be that a candidate asks a friend or family member to obtain information or documentation, and this documentation, when submitted, turns out to be false or misleading.

A more direct example of misrepresentation could be if a candidate provides false dates for an employment period or misstates the job duties of a position in an attempt to gain more points under the Comprehensive Ranking System.

Of course, the full scope of misrepresentation is not limited to these cases. In cases of possible misrepresentation, the applicant may be given the opportunity to respond to concerns raised about his or her application.

Your options on receiving an invitation to apply: Accepting / Declining / Expiration

ScenarioHow this happensWhat happens next
Accepting an ITAThe submission of a complete application within 60 days is considered acceptanceIRCC assesses the application. Most files are successfully processed to completion within six months.
Declining an ITAThis is easily done by clicking a button provided on the ITA notice itself.The candidate's profile is placed back in the pool and is eligible for selection in subsequent draws.
Letting an ITA expireThe invited candidate fails to submit an application within 60 days.If the individual still wishes to immigrate to Canada through Express Entry, he or she will have to create a new profile.

Submitting your application after receiving an invitation to apply (ITA)

The application process is entirely online. This is sometimes known as an e-application or e-APR (electronic application for permanent residence).

Though many applicants find this process straightforward, others may find the application system glitchy or cumbersome. Still others may find the process overwhelming, especially if many documents need to be uploaded in different places.

Make sure you give yourself lots of time to fill out the application.

  • Pro-tip #1: The online system often requires all documents related to a single piece of information to be uploaded in a single PDF file with a limit on the file size. Having access to a program that allows your to easily combine PDF documents and reduce file size (to less than 4mb) will be extremely useful.

Application fee: When you apply, you must pay a processing fee of CAD $950 each for the main applicant and spouse included on the application and $260 per child included on the application. You also must pay a Right of Permanent Residence Fee (RPRF) of CAD $575 each for the main applicant and spouse.

The RPRF can be paid upon initial submission of the application, or you can choose to pay it later in which case you will receive a request in your IRCC account if and when your application reaches the final stages of processing.

  • Pro-tip #2: You cannot make changes to your application after you’ve submitted it. We recommend double-checking and triple-checking your application before submitting. If you notice you forgot to include a mandatory document after you’ve submitted the application, you will not be able to submit it retroactively.

Submitting an eAPR can be a complicated and stressful experience. In the end, we recommend that you prepare your documents in advance and don’t leave the application until the last minute.

As well, this is a high-stakes application: an approval results in permanent resident status. If there was a stage of the process where it makes sense to pay an expert for assistance, this is it. Of course, many applicants are able to submit successful applications on their own after receiving an invitation to apply. Below, we have listed a few of our recommended experts who will be able to provide you with assistance if you need it.

Get planning for Canada! Did you know that Canada offers free pre-arrival services for approved immigrants who plan to arrive in the country within the next 12 months? You can get free employment mentorship and more through government-funded pre-arrival services provided by Canada InfoNet.

What happens after receiving an Invitation to Apply (ITA)?

After receiving an Invitation to Apply (ITA), candidates have 60 days to submit their electronic Application for Permanent Residence (eAPR) through the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) online portal. During this period, the Express Entry profile is locked, meaning candidates cannot make updates or receive another ITA. They must scan and upload all required documents as part of their application submission within this timeframe.

How long does it take to receive an ITA?

This depends on the applicants CRS score and other factors, like occupation and French language ability. If an applicant is competitive, they may receive an ITA in the next draw. Others may not receive an ITA in the 12 months their profile is active.

After an ITA is received, how much does it cost to submit an electronic application for permanent residence (eAPR)?

On applying, applicants must pay a processing fee of CAD $950 each for the main applicant and spouse included on the application and $260 per child included on the application. In addition to this, applicants must pay a Right of Permanent Residence Fee (RPRF) of CAD $575 each for the main applicant and spouse.

What happens after an eAPR has been submitted?

Once an eAPR has been submitted, the application goes into processing. Applicants can expect processing to take around 6 to 12 months. During this time Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) will request a biometrics and medical examination, and may request new or updated documentation to support the application. It is important to check you email given in the application to look out for these requests. IRCC often give tight deadlines to submit additional documents.

Once an eAPR has been submitted, can the applicant travel?

In most cases, travel during the processing of an eAPR is permitted however there are some exceptions where travel would not be recommended. If you do plan on travelling look into the impact this may have on your processing. If you receive a document request when travelling how easy will it be for you to get those documents. Also consider whether  you have the correct visa and permit to travel.

Once an eAPR has been submitted, can the applicant apply for a Canadian work permit?

Certain applicants can apply for an open work permit once an eAPR has been submitted. This open work permit is a bridging open work permit (BOWP). A BOWP is only available to those working in Canada on a valid work permit, or who are eligible for restoration as a worker.  The BOWP allows these workers to continue working in Canada during the processing of their application.

Getting help with your Express Entry application

Do you need assistance in preparing an application for Canadian permanent residence? If so, view our Book an Immigration Consultant page to see Moving2Canada’s list of recommended, accredited representatives who can assist you in your goals. You can choose between a one-on-one consultation (great if you have a few questions) and a full Express Entry application review (great if you want an expert to look over your application before you submit).

About the author

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Rebecca Major

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Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant
Rebecca Major is a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant (R511564) with nearly 15 years of licenced Canadian Immigration experience, gained after graduating with a Bachelor of Laws in the UK. She specializes in Canadian immigration at Moving2Canada.
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Citation "Express Entry Invitation to Apply explained." Moving2Canada. . Copy for Citation