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.

213 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.

  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

  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.

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