How Long Does The Immigration Process Take? (6/10)

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The Canadian Parliament In Ottawa

The Canadian Parliament In Ottawa

Welcome to my new series, “How to immigrate to Canada“!

I recently received quite a lot of emails, asking me questions about the immigration process. So I decided to explain the whole process in 10 posts, which will be published every Saturday.

I also encourage you to ask any question you may have. I’m not an immigration consultant, but from experience, I may be able to point you to the right direction!

In the series, we will see the different options you have to come to Canada, as well as your rights and duties as a Permanent Resident, what happens after you arrive etc.

Applicants main concern is often on how long the whole process takes. Unfortunately, there is no rule and no one can know for sure. However, there are some tricks to make sure your application is processed as fast as it can be!

How long does the immigration process take… roughly?

  • Most permanent resident applications, no matter in which category you apply, take from 6 to 12 months to be processed.
  • That said, some applications are processed much faster… I was one of the lucky applicants, I received the permanent resident in only 4 months!
  • On the other side, some applicants will wait for a few years.

Citizenship and Immigration provides tables indicating how many months were necessary to approve or refuse application at various visa offices around the world. You can check the processing time for application in Canada, outside Canada, and by categories, such as the skilled worker category or the family class category.

So, what’s taking so long?

Approving or refusing a permanent residence application is a long process. Immigration agents must check all documents and make a life-changing decision!

But many other factors affect the average application processing time:

How busy the local visa office is: some regions of the world receive more applications. For example, visa offices in Africa and the Middle East currently have the longest processing time for skilled worker applications. Not every country has a Canadian visa office and as a result, a central visa office may be responsible for several countries or region. For example, the Paris visa office is responsible for immigration applications for Algeria, Belgium, Libya, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Portugal, Spain, Switzerland and Tunisia! Same goes for the London office which is responsible for Denmark, Finland, Greenland, Iceland, Ireland, Norway, Sweden, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, UAE and Yemen…!

The difficulty of the security check: there is a mandatory security check on all permanent resident applicants to prevent individuals who pose a risk to Canada’s security from entering the country. Its duration can be affected by such factors as military service, foreign trips, membership in political organizations etc. Some foreign countries cooperate better with Canada than others and sometimes, background checks can be quite difficult to conduct.

What you can do to ensure your application is processed as fast as it can be

  • Fill up your application properly: it sounds obvious, but a lot of people think “oh, I’m not sure what to say here… they will figure it out”. No, “they” won’t. Your application will be sent back and your will waste time. It may take you a week or two months to complete your application, but do it seriously. It pays out.
  • Send all the documents required: it should go without saying. If for some reason, you really can’t provide a document, send a letter explaining why. I did that for our marriage certificate, after learning it would take as long as 6 months to receive it. I send my application and explained why I would send the certificate later and it was no problem.
  • Inform your local office or any change: if you move, don’t forget to inform your visa office! Some application take years to be processed and applicants’ lives can change a lot meanwhile: some get married, some have kids. Inform your visa office fast because they will know anyway.
  • Choose your immigration category wisely: do the online test to make sure you have enough points to apply in the skilled worker category. If you apply in the sponsorship category, make sure you have enough proof that the relationship is genuine. Basically, make your choice obvious, clear and back it up by sending all the supporting documents needed.
  • If you can, choose your visa office: as I mentioned above, some visa offices are much busier than others. If you apply outside Canada, unfortunately, you must apply in the country you live in. But if you are already in Canada, you may apply from within Canada, or from outside Canada. I had the choice for example between applying in Buffalo NY or in Paris. At the time, Buffalo was extremely busy and I was advised to apply in Paris, which paid off since my application was processed really fast!
  • Only contact your visa office when you are past the average processing time: whenever CIC communicates with you, it always indicates the average length of a step (for example 3 to 6 months, 5 to 7 months etc.). If you are past the average processing time, you are welcome to contact them. I personally did it twice, once in person at the Canadian embassy in Paris (for my permanent residence application) and once on the phone (for my citizenship application). Both times, my application status was checked and I received news shortly after. On the other side, don’t contact visa office and complain if you are not past the this average processing time: it’s a waste of immigration officers’ time and you won’t get any special treatment, no matter how loud you complain.

Two myths…

Immigrating through Quebec is faster: as I explained in If You Immigrate to Quebec, the process to settle in the province is slightly different. A lot of French-speakers think it is always faster and easier to go through Quebec. The truth is, it really depends. Going through Quebec means an additional step (the CSQ) and there are backlogs. It all depends on when you apply and your personal situation, but it is not necessarily faster, especially that now, immigrating to Quebec is quite popular.

Immigration consultants can speed up my application: no, they can’t. A good and honest immigration representative will always tell you that they cannot speed up the process, so be very careful with those who claim they can. The only thing they can do is make sure your application is filled up properly, that no documents are missing… etc. Basically, things you can do by yourself.

Good luck!

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About Author

French woman in English Canada. World citizen, new mom, traveler, translator, writer and photographer. Looking for comrades to start a new revolution.

253 Comments

  1. Hi,

    I am a Bangladeshi Citizen and applied for Quebec immigration back 2013 and i got the Quebec confirmation in April 2016. After that we again applied for federal as you are well aware that Federal also need to be accepted for Quebec as well.

    Now, we last submitted documents in 31st October’2016 when they asked to provide the intention of staying at Quebec. We can see only its “in process” status in Canadian website. My question is how long will it take more as we are already in 5th year of total processing time. Its in now Singapore office so far we know form our agent.
    Can u comment on my situation?

    • There isn’t much I can say. This is a very long processing time for you, I rarely see it that long. I’m not sure why… would it be because it is processed in Singapore? The CSQ adds an extra step as well, making the process longer.

      • R u still waiting or migrated please update me because I am also waiting my federal application submitted March 2017 still no update in process

  2. Good Morning Ma,

    I am a citizen of Canada and i mailed my application in sponsoring my spouse on the 2nd of March. I haven`t heard from the immigration to know if they have received it. Do you know how long it takes to hear back from them after the application is mailed?

    Kindly advise me and your answer and response will be well appreciated.

    Thanks

    • Hi Kay, Just wondering how long it ended up taking? I sent mine from Australia about 2 months ago and still have not even received a confirmation that they have it! I know it was delivered to Canadian Immigration by the Australia Post tracking ability… but nothing else!

  3. Hello,
    My wife and I applied for QSWP in febuary 2014 with her being the principal applicant. We both work in the telecommunication industry am an Engineer and she is a roaming coordinator. We applied through an agency in Abijan (Access Canada) and its been three years now. Access Canada is mainly in the francophone countries in West Africa and my wife is Ivorienne so she is fronting the application process. We have met all requirements, my wife past all exams and interviews and we have been prompt with every payment. The reason why am writing you is that am a little worried about the pace and progress so far. I mean i hear you say the time it takes depends on the visa office and so on, however i still think the process is really slow considering the fact that our application is formidable. Can you advise me?

    • Even if your application is strong, there could be dozens of reasons why it takes so long, including background checks and the fact your visa office may be very busy. That said, I’m a bit concerned to hear you applied through an agency. I don’t know whether it’s legit but I would advise you to communicate with them if they acted on your behalf.

  4. Hi…my name is Anjaly.I applied for Quebec immigration in the year of 2015 October after two months I received my file number…, after that I don’t have any other information..How I know my processing still going on or in between any problem… Normallyit will take long time?

  5. Hi,

    My name is Poornima. I am having Finland Permenant A visa, valid upto 2 years. My husband and myself are moving to Ontario, Canada. I need to apply for Canadian spouse visa. Does my Finland Permenant A visa will be considered for speed up process or it takes 1 year for processing.

    • No, your status in Finland has nothing to do with the Canadian immigration process. Also, it may take more or less than a year, processing times are averages.

  6. Ghulam on 17 June 2017.
    I applied for Canadian citizenship grant a month ago in Ontario. When I check the status online, it says the application is not yet being processed. How long does it take before they start the process?
    Another question is if I move to another province in Canada, does it affect the processing time?

    • Moving to another province doesn’t affect the timeline, as far as I know.

      You can check average processing timelines on CIC’s website, but it takes at least a year.

  7. my wife is a permanent resident of Manitoba and we got married in april and submitted our application in may.
    We are yet to receive any information from immigration as to receiving and telling us what next to do.
    PLEASE ADVICE

  8. Hi,

    I have submitted my file after getting ITA in September 2016. Now my status shows that your application is in progress. We will send you message once final decision has been made.
    I did not know much more time it will take for final decision and now its been more than 9 months passed.

  9. can you tell me how long does it take to get the PPR , once your application is forwarded to your visa office ?

  10. Hello,

    My name is Haruna Daura. I’m currently a student of Biomedical Engineering at Jordan University of Science and Technology, presently in my third year. My question is which visa application will suit me to migrate to Canada by the time I conclude my studies here in Jordan? Between sponsorship and working visa application which is more viable and easy to process? Should I start the application process now and how much monetary resources should I preserve for this endeavour?

    Also, I would like to know how much time it takes, on average, to process the application for students and fresh graduate. I wish to find work, life and education for I intend to pursue my Master’s degree over there. Should I apply directly for citizenship or just start with permanent residency? Which is the best application that suits my current reality?

    My questions are too many but I would appreciate it if you could find the time to respond. Thank so much for your efforts.

    • I can’t tell you what visa category would be best for you but if you aren’t in a relationship with a Canadian citizen, sponsorship isn’t an option.

      You cannot apply directly for citizenship. You must be a permanent resident for a few years before you’re eligible for citizenship.

      Good luck!

  11. Hello,

    I’m an international student who graduated from Laval university in Quebec (Master Degree). I applied for the CSQ and got it in 21days. But i’m afraid of the processing time to get my permanent resident, i didn’t apply yet for PR. Some friends had to wait 15months and some had to wait just 6months to get their PR its, so why would that happen? And how can i get fast processed application ? In my case may i choose the offices where it’s much faster ? And how?
    By the way i live Quebec Now with a work permit after graduation.

    All Best Regards,

  12. I am a Quebec investor applicant. Received CSQ in June 2017, Federal stage application received in July 2017, medicasl received September 19 of 2017. How long will it take to receive a PR?

  13. Hello
    I’m a nigerian applied for work PR to canada I was been contacted through phone call and I get mails from the law firm tell me that my application is been process telling me the numbers of law firms that took interest in my application.
    How much time will its take to get the work PR,best regard

  14. Hello,
    My wife applied for spouse CSQ, but they said verbally (phone) that u received ur certificate on friday but my wife not received can u plz tell me when they send certificate.
    2. My wife is pregnant too she need me so any easy way to process my application faster before delivery.

    Need your valuable genuine reply

    Thanks

  15. Based on your experience in this field. I was wondering if you could tell me about the time to get the CSQ. Since I have waited for 24 month starting from opening my file which was on December 1, 2015 and I am still waiting .

  16. We have applied for pr in July 2017….Status shows medical passed and application under process. How much more time will it take. We have applied thru Indian processing centre through a Canadian consultant.

  17. Hi Zhu,
    Happy New Year 2017

    Today for the first time I have used this site to share my little story about the immigration process under Family class. My name is Ajay, From New York. My wife is in Quebec City. Our process took almost a year and every thing went fine. Recently they request me to send CSQ Form, which I scan to the email and faxed to them and they gave me the confirmation that they have received it.

    My questions is
    Do you know how long still I have to wait to be called for the interview? I m really excited to move to Canada ASAP.

    Any information would be highly appreciated

    Ajay

      • Hi Zhu,
        i know its hard to tell. i did more researched with different website people have posted their story. I find out the CSQ was the last step to the process and which i have handy.
        My wife sent it to me the CSQ Form to me and Ottawa Embassy request me to send the CSQ Letter to them. I am really confused what gonna be the next.
        whether interview or Visa?

        let me know please

        Ajay

          • Seriously. Okay no problem.
            I have final question. My family want to move to Waterloo Ontario as i join them. So can i move with them to Waterloo Ontario after got my Visa to Qebec or not? Or do i have to stay in Quebec for time being and can be able to move? Any Idea would be appreciated.

            Ajay

  18. Hi Zhu,
    Finally Application got approved and I will be moving to Quebec end of April 2018 Permanently and my wife’s family are moving to Ontario on July 2018. So, I will be in Quebec just for 3 months after immigrating from US.
    Do you think it will be okay me to move with them? or it will cause more problems in the future?

    Please guide me with some suggestion.

    With Regards

    Ajay

      • HI Zhu,
        Thank you for your all information and we do really appreciated your support.
        Sorry to say but this might be my last concern.
        Ottawa Embassy mentioned that Officially my last date will be 05/30/2018 to land in Quebec and i will be receiving passport with Visa, CoPR on 02/28/2018.
        My parents in law and wife is moving to Ontario on 07/01/2018.
        So headache is
        As i move to Quebec on 05/30/2018 can i move literately with them to Ontario or not?
        Hope you got my story.

        Share me your thoughts?

        Regards

        Ajay

  19. Hello,

    I’m from India and going to pursue my master’s in computer science from US. I wanted to know whether it is possible for me to immigrate to Canada after I graduate with a master’s degree. Is it possible for me to find job in IT field and move to Canada? I have 0 years of experience.
    Please guide me.

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