How to Apply for Express Entry Invitation

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. 80 percent of applications submitted through Express Entry are processed in six months or less.

Invited candidates 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 on a candidate’s initial Express Entry profile.

There are, however, a number of preliminary steps that must be completed before a candidate 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, the candidate 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 candidates. 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 candidates may find way 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 candidates 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.

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.

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:

  • Valid passport
  • Birth certificate
  • Language test results
  • Documentation attesting to work experience
  • Police clearance certificate(s)
  • Upfront medical receipt
  • Photographs of principal applicant and family members

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 are encouraged to gather as many of these documents as possible as early as possible in the process.

All documents must be uploaded and submitted electronically.

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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 ITA options: Accepting / Declining / Expiration

ScenarioHow this happensWhat happens next
Accepting an ITAThe submission of a complete profile 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 will be extremely useful.

Application fee: When you apply, you must pay a processing fee of CAD $825 for each adult included on the application. You also must pay a Right of Permanent Residence Fee (RPRF) equal to CAD $500 per adult and $225 per child included on the application.

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. Below, we have listed a few of our recommended experts who will be able to provide you with assistance if you need it.

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