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!


About Author

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


  1. This question goes along with the post: how long are you willing to wait?

    Before filing for application, based on my experience, you have to stretch your patience to its fullest extent. Then you’ll also need constant stock of patience. That’s the best thing you can do on your part other than submitting all the requirements.

    The rest is up to the immigration officer and standard that changes over time.

  2. hi zhu
    ur information is so helpful,
    my situation is that i have been applied for permanant residancy in live in caregiver catagory almost 1 year before but i dint get any response,i m still in canada .when ever i check the cic web they show 38 months. can u please tell me how long mostly this kind of cases take. thanx

  3. Thanks for these useful posts! I am canadian and my husband is Mexican. We currently live in South Korea. Would we apply through the office here in South Korea or through the Mexican office? The time here is much faster than through the Mexican office and we are trying to figure out when we should apply as we want to live here for another 2 or 3 years before making the move to Canada.

    Thanks for the help!

  4. Pingback: 4 Short Answers to 4 Immigration Questions | Correr Es Mi Destino

  5. Hello,

    I am a US citizen and married a Canadian. I sent off the application without my security check and medical exam which will be done in a couple of days. My question is What documents did you send to show your relationship is genuine. We face timed every day but I can’t show evidence as that doesn’t go on the phone bill. I sent pictures and plane tickets. Will that be enough?

    • It really depends on the relationship and on the file. Emails, pictures, plane tickets, etc. are all acceptable proofs but it depends on how strong the relationship looks to officials.

  6. hello i would like to ask if my application is past the average processing time.i have been sponsored by my father last june 5,2012.Application for permanent residence received june 5,2011.. 2 years of waiting and no news yet. should i contact them?

  7. suman rajkumaar on

    im done with 1st step of process with quebec, and recieved file num from MICC , quebec …. so they r telling tat it takes 5yrs is tat true …. we have filed it on 17th dec 2012

  8. i got a mail from CIC on 8th August.20014 that my application for permanent residence under Quebec program is currently being processed.So, i want to find out how long it would take.

  9. I looked on the “processing times” cic website and it indicates 17 months for the visa office where our spousal sponsorship application is currently being processed (Mexico City). The Mexico city visa office sent us a letter asking for additional information back in August, the letter said “this office will take 6 months to process your application, if you do not hear anything in 6 months please contact our office.” I am confused, why is the website saying 17months?

  10. I applied for Canada pr on September 26,2014.i haven’t get any mail from cic yet.still waiting for cic mail….my question is how do I know whether the cic is accepted or rejected my file?

  11. HI,

    Im an Indian staying in US as a non-immigrant. If I want to apply for a Canada Visa, through which office I need to apply, is it from India or from US ..Thanks

  12. Hi my question is im canadien citizin i rosponsbl my husband i did everthing is done and they send for me application to pay rprf and i i wonder how long is take to come in canada thankyou

  13. Kindly let me know the exact period of processing times if I apply for family sponsorship catagory. I am living in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Waiting your urgent response repeat your urgent response.
    Thanks and regards.

  14. pls we are in Ghana.we have a Canadian friends in Canada who want us to come there my husband my child n i.pls how long will take

    • Your friends cannot sponsor you, FYI. As for how long the process takes, it depends on the process, visa office, etc. Usually at least several months to several years.

  15. Hi, i’am a fil­ip­ina, my hus­band spon­sor me in canada for per­ma­nent res­i­dence and i send my pass­port to the visa office 10 weeks from now. How long do i wait before i recieve my visa. Thanks and godbless.

  16. My husband recieved an email from them says there that my application is currently being process. Why it takes very long?

  17. why the canadian embassy in abu dhabi doesn’t acknowledge the documents they received? my husband had send his additional documents 2mos ago. thanks for your response..

  18. I applied for my permanent residence last year. When I check on-line it says that my application was received on September 30th 2014. Then it was updated saying we started processing your application on February 17th 2015. The average processing time that they post online is 13 months. Does that mean 13 months after September or 13 months after February?

  19. Hello Zhu, just wondering if the timetable is accurate on the CIC website? I’m currently in the US and my wife is sponsoring me (family class) as she is Canadian. I’m going through Ottawa and it states 16 months. Seems kind of long but it is what it is! My application went into process this past June…

    If you have any info per the timeline I’d appreciate it.

    Thank you,


    • I think it is a table of past processing time, to give applicants an idea of how long the process is/has been and how busy visa offices are. I’d say it’s fairly accurate, although in the family class, it depends on the application (some seem to be straightforward, no interview etc.)

      • Thank you Zhu! It is really nice of you to take time helping me, and so many people with their immigration questions.

        All the best,

  20. Can i fly directly to any visa office and apply personally if their processing time is 1or 2 months? Like the Visa office in Paris, France? Im Indian citizen but right now, the fastest time to process a work permit application is in Paris so if I fly there just to apply, will my application be processed there or forwarded back to India since I don’t reside in France?

    • No you can’t. You are assigned a visa office based on your country of residence, and it certainly takes longer than two months in Paris anyway.

      • thank you for the reply. In your blog post, you mention that you could have applied to Buffalo NY but picked Paris for faster processing time? How does that work? Processing time on the CIC website say 1 month for Paris at the moment

        i am indian citizen but living in Finland for 1 year working contract. If I apply online then, which country’s visa office will be the one processes my work permit application? there is no visa office in Finland so would it be processed somewhere close by in Europe (current processing time estimated at most 2 months)? Or would it still be sent to India (estimated 2 to 4 months)? how do you determine processing time for online applications??

  21. Hi , am currently having TRV for 3 years , can I apply for PR from within Canada ? What is the best and fastest way to get the PR without the need to leave Canada ? Thx

  22. goo day!! I am thinking of looking for a job and then immigrating to Canada but I have no idea of which jobs are in high demand?

  23. Wonderful post.. very informative! I am from India and want to settle in Canada, I have done my MBA in marketing and have a work ex of 6 month currently,

    1.Should I apply now if I have to fly to Canada after six months for a permanent job?
    2.How is the job market for people with my qualification?
    3.Should I go through a consultant who will help me find a job there as well apart from applying on my behalf?

    • It usually takes many months or a few years to get permanent residence status, so you can get started to see if you are eligible. Really, at this stage, finding a job isn’t your main goal, you have to go through the permanent residence status process first. Of course, it’s a good idea to check out the market (I’m not in your field, I can’t comment on it) but realistically speaking, you won’t get a job offer until you have a work visa or PR status. Good luck!

  24. Hi you post is very informative,I’m married and my spouse is sponsoring me,the things is he hasn’t receive his permanent status yet cause the lawyer decided that when we get married that she can send in both of us application together so if he’s granted residency I w I’ll get mine too,it’s 27 months now and we’ve get anything,when we call all they saying still in process..we do an inland sponsor,should it take this long

  25. hello,I m a Canadian citizen and going to sponsor my wife,what’s the average process time in Ankara(Turkey) visa office?

  26. Hello ZHU,

    I’m a U.S. Citizen (retired military) who married a Canadian Citizen (Canadian military) in Quebec. We met through the military in 2013. We married in Quebec in March 2015. I have been residing in Quebec with my wife since December 2014 on a Visa. I’m currently on an extended visa. We submitted a Sponsorship application within Canada and it was received and processed in August 2015. Can you give me an estimite of how much time I would have to wait to receive my Residency? I’ve heard and read most of the terrible stories about people waiting 4 or more years for their Residency. Could this happen to me? I have a clean record with no offences. I was discharged honorably from the military. Also, my wife and I just bought a house together here in Quebec. This should help to show that I’m committed to my marrige and wish to stay in Canada right? So, why does the process take so long for a couple, who is married, doing the right things? Thank you for time and patience.

  27. Hi Zhu,

    I’m a naturalized Canadian citizen who recently married a Filipino citizen. He works and he has been living in US for 6 years with an expired status. He became a victim of human trafficking 5 years ago and was left with no other choice but to stay there and work. Since he entered US legally with a work visa, he had a SSN and he continued to be a good taxpayer. As a result of his non-resident or undocumented status, my sponsorship application for his permanent residence was processed in the Philippines. All necessary documents were submitted along with his medical exam confirmation and the payment receipt for C$1,040. As of now, we’re past the 16th month processing time (which includes my assessment for eligibility as a sponsor) and I understand that the current processing time for spouse in Manila, Philippines takes 17 months. I’m just really worried because they haven’t contacted us for my husband to send his passport from US to Manila. Our friend who had the same status in US as my husband applied months behind us but is now coming to Canada in 2 weeks..his application only took 13 months and it’s exactly for the same application! Why is it like that? Same application, same Visa office, same circumstances but different waiting period?

    Thank you,


    • Your case is way too complex for me to even voice my two cents, I have no idea. Based on what I saw, there is no pattern when it comes to application, some cases are processed faster than others, this is just how it is. If you are really worried, the best ides would be to contact CIC once you are past the average processing times.

      • Thank you for your quick response. I guess the only option for now is wait and hope for the best. I will really call them for follow up after the elapsed time.

  28. Hi Zhu,
    I am a citizen of India, wanting to apply for a Canadian PR Visa. I have some of the queries listed below.

    1. We have several consultancy for the immigration process here in India and also I am in contact with a Indian person working in LAW firm in Canada. Is it safe or OK to apply through LAW firm? I have heard that LAW firm is better than consultancy. My problem is If I apply through a Canadian LAW firm situated in Canada, I will have to contact that person for all the processing details who stays in Canada. How safe is it?

    2. What all could be the chances or rejection? apart from Form not completely filled.

    3. After getting the PR visa, how do I apply for a job in Canada from India? Will I be able to apply from India or I will have to go there and then search.

    4. If I happen to go there and search a JOB, wanted to ask you is what are the job requirements in Canada? Are PR immigrants considered or have a good value ?

    • 1. Most prospective immigrants can do the paperwork alone, I usually don’t recommend going through a consultant as it is a waste of money.
      2. Many! If you qualify in the first place, that’s a big step. Medical exams, background check issues could lead to rejection for instance.
      3. In theory, you could apply for jobs from India, however your chances are much better if you are already in Canada and have your visa sorted out.
      4. PR immigrants have the right to work in Canada, so employers have no issue with their status. There are certain jobs where PR status can be an issue, including government positions where Canadian citizens are preferred, or job that require a top-level security clearance. However, the most common issue immigrants face is the lack of references in Canada or work experience in Canada (a catch 101).

  29. Hey Zhu,

    I am an Indian citizen, I live in US on student visa. I want to apply for canadian PR. I want to start a retail business in canada. Is it possible?? Thankyou

    • Anything is possible, but you have to go step by step. And the first step is getting info and see if you are eligible. Do research!

  30. I am going to apply for citizenship and among the time spend outside Canada such as follows:

    (Absent) Country (Reason)
    1 Feb 2012 to 2 august 2012 A1 Family visit and others.
    in this period I have visited, stayed and work another country (B1) for 4 and half months but I didn’t went that country(B1) from Canada. I went there from country A1.

    In this case do I have to show the time I spend in country B1.


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