How to Secure an Invitation to Apply (ITA) for Express Entry to Canada

April 4, 2024


  • Shireen Fisher

Dreaming of a fresh start in Canada's vast wilderness or bustling cities? The Express Entry System is your gateway to Canadian Permanent Residency, offering a streamlined path for skilled workers. But before you picture yourself exploring maple forests or cheering on the sidelines of a hockey game, you must secure an Invitation to Apply (ITA).

We look into the world of Express Entry, equipping you with the knowledge and strategies to snag that coveted ITA and unlock your Canadian immigration journey.

What is an Invitation to Apply (ITA)?

An Invitation to Apply is a golden ticket from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) inviting you to apply for Permanent Residency through Express Entry formally. It is issued to the top candidates in the pool based on their Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) score. The CRS is a points-based system that meticulously assesses your skills, education, work experience, language proficiency, and other factors to determine your potential to establish yourself successfully in Canada.

Think of the CRS score as your immigration report card. The higher your score, the more attractive your profile appears to IRCC, and the greater your chances of receiving an ITA.

How to Secure an Invitation to Apply (ITA) for Express Entry to Canada

Now that you understand the significance of the ITA, you can follow these steps to increase your chances of receiving one.

Step 1: Eligibility Check

Before embarking on your Express Entry adventure, ensure you meet the minimum eligibility requirements for the specific programs you are targeting within the system. Generally, you will need to demonstrate work experience in a skilled occupation listed in Canada's National Occupation Classification (NOC) system, possess a minimum level of education, and meet language proficiency requirements in English or French. Ensuring your eligibility beforehand provides you with the peace of mind of knowing that your chances of obtaining an ITA are solid.

Step 2 Craft Your Express Entry Profile

Once you have confirmed your eligibility, you can create your online Express Entry profile. This profile acts as your digital resume, showcasing your skills and qualifications to IRCC. To complete your profile, you must gather some key documents:

  • Passport: This verifies your identity and nationality.
  • Educational Credential Assessment (ECA) Report (if applicable): If your qualification was obtained outside Canada, you need an ECA report from a designated organization recognized by IRCC. This report confirms the equivalency of your foreign education to Canadian standards.
  • Language Test Results: Demonstrate your proficiency in English or French through internationally recognized tests like IELTS. Strong scores in these tests can significantly improve your CRS score.
  • Trade Qualification Certificate (optional): If you qualify for a skilled trade occupation issued by a Canadian province or territory, include it in your profile. This can further strengthen your application.
  • Proof of Work Experience: While not mandatory, providing proof of relevant work experience, particularly in Canada, carries significant weight in the CRS point system.
  • Provincial Nomination Certificate (optional): Securing a nomination from a Canadian province through a Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) grants you a substantial boost in your CRS score (typically 600 points): Include your nomination certificate if you have one.
  • Proof of Funds: While not required at the profile creation stage, you may eventually need to demonstrate sufficient financial resources to support yourself upon arrival in Canada.

Tips For Your Express Entry Profile

Crafting a compelling Express Entry profile is crucial for securing an Invitation to Apply and kickstarting your Canadian immigration journey. Here are three key tips to ensure your profile shines and grabs the attention of IRCC:

  1. Provide accurate and up-to-date information about your education, work experience, language test scores, and other relevant details. Any discrepancies can lead to profile rejection or delays, jeopardizing your chances of receiving an ITA.
  2. Consider consulting with Regulated Canadian immigration consultants (RCICs) for expert guidance on profile creation. They can ensure your profile effectively highlights your strengths and maximizes your CRS score.
  3. Proofread your profile meticulously before submitting it. Typos or factual errors can create a negative impression.

Step 3: Stay Updated

The Express Entry system is dynamic. IRCC conducts regular draws from the pool of candidates, inviting those with the highest CRS scores to apply for Permanent Residency. The cut-off CRS score for each draw varies depending on the number of candidates and IRCC's immigration priorities.

Staying informed about these draws is crucial. Monitor the IRCC website for updates on draw results and the minimum CRS score required. This knowledge allows you to strategically improve your profile and tailor your approach based on the current immigration landscape.

Step 4: Get Your ITA

If your CRS score meets or exceeds the qualifying score for a set Express Entry draw, you will receive an ITA. You can then apply for Canadian permanent residency. Draws take place around every two weeks. The Express Entry draw on March 26, 2024 saw 1500 people receive ITAs. The lowest CRS score in this draw was 388.

Responding to an ITA

Once you secure an ITA, you must note that it is valid for 60 days only. Fill out the online form immediately to get all the information and documents you need before your invitation expires.

You will receive a notification on your profile which tells you:

  • The name of the program you received an ITA for
  • What your next step should be

Check Your Program Criteria

Review the criteria for the program you received an ITA for to check whether you still qualify. It is a good idea to be clear on program requirements before you apply. This gives you some insights into whether or not to accept the ITA.

Important Changes

Any changes in your situation, or even your spouse or partner's, can affect Canadian Permanent Residency eligibility. If this happens, you must calculate your CRS score again to ensure you meet the set criteria.

Note that if your score drops below the minimum level for the invitation round, it would be better for you to decline the ITA. If you apply with a lower score, you could:

  • Have your application rejected
  • Lose the application fees you paid

Examples of changes that could lead to a lower CRS score

  • Losing a valid offer of employment
  • Losing a provincial nomination
  • Expired language proficiency test scores
  • New, lower language test scores

Improve your Chances of Getting an ITA

Remember, the CRS score is pivotal in securing an ITA. Here are some strategies to enhance your score.

Strategy Description
Mastering English or French Canada is a bilingual country, so proficiency in either English or French is highly valued. Aim for strong scores in internationally recognized language tests like IELTS.
Education Credentials Assessment If you obtained your education outside Canada, have your foreign educational credentials assessed by designated organizations recognized by IRCC. This process verifies the equivalency of your education to Canadian standards, potentially boosting your CRS score.
Skilled Work Experience Relevant Canadian work experience carries significant weight in the CRS system. If you have the opportunity, consider pursuing skilled work in Canada to gain valuable points.
Provincial Nomination Programs Several Canadian provinces have Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs) aligned with Express Entry. Securing a nomination from a province grants you a substantial boost in your CRS score (typically 600 points), significantly increasing your chances of receiving an ITA.

Declining an ITA

Should you choose to decline an ITA, the IRCC will place you back into the Express Entry pool. You will then be considered for future rounds of invitations, but only if you still qualify.

If you do not decline an ITA and fail to apply within 60 days, it will expire. Your profile will then be taken from the pool.


What Happens if I do Not Get an ITA?

All is not lost if you do not get an ITA. If this is the case for you, you will stay in the pool for a year. This will give you time to improve your CRS score.

Can I Get an ITA Extension if 60 days Have Already Passed?

No. IRCC cannot grant you an extension after the 60-day deadline has passed.