Invitation to Apply for Express Entry

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.

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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.