The Canadian Parliament In Ottawa
The Canadian Parliament In Ottawa

“How long does the immigration process take?” is one of the most common questions I get from anyone considering applying for permanent residence in Canada. There are no hard and fast rules, just average processing times.

So this is what you can expect and this is what you should do to make sure your application is processed as fast as possible (don’t expect miracles, though!)

How do you define “processing time”?

“Processing time” should be understood as the period of time that starts when the Government of Canada receives your complete application to the day when a decision is made.

Remember that it takes time—a few weeks or even a few months—to gather supporting documents and prepare your application.

How long will it take for my permanent residence application to be processed?

First, it depends on the immigration category:

  • In the Canadian Experience Class, the official processing time is 6 months.
  • In the skilled workers (Quebec) category, processing time is 15-17 months, mostly because settling in Quebec adds an extra step—getting a CSQ.
  • As for family sponsorship, processing time is 12 months for a spouse or common-law partner living inside Canada or outside Canada.

Keep in mind that the Government of Canada is “committed” to processing most applications within the given timeframe but there’s no guarantee it’s going to happen. Some applications are processed faster (four months for mine in 2005!) and some take years.

Check the processing time for your immigration category to know what to expect.

Why is it taking so long?

First, reviewing a permanent residence application is a long process. Supporting documents must be checked and applications must be assessed carefully. Fair enough. After all, a life-changing decision is being made.

Other factors may also affect average processing time:

How busy the local visa office is

Some regions of the world receive more applications. Not every country has a Canadian visa office and as a result, a central visa office may be responsible for several countries or regions. For example, the Paris visa office is responsible for processing applications from Algeria, Belgium, Libya, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Portugal, Spain, Switzerland and Tunisia. The same goes for the London office, it handles applications from Denmark, Finland, Greenland, Iceland, Ireland, Norway, Sweden, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, UAE and Yemen.

How complex your background check is

A background check is conducted on all permanent resident applicants to prevent individuals who pose a risk to Canada’s security from entering the country—this is why you have to provide police certificate(s). Military service, foreign trips, membership in political organizations, etc., can slow down the process. Some foreign countries also cooperate better with Canada than others.

What you can do to help speed up the process

Fill out 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 time will be wasted. It may take you a week or two months to gather all the documents and fill out your application, but trust me, it will make life easier in the long run.

Provided all required supporting documents

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 at least six months to receive a copy. I sent my application and explained why I would add the certificate later—it was accepted.

Provide update if anything changes in your life

Applications can take years to be processed so don’t forget to contact your visa office if you move, get married, have a child, etc.

Choose your immigration category wisely

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. Provide plenty of supporting documents.

If you can, choose your visa office

Some visa offices are busier than others. If you apply outside Canada, unfortunately, you must apply in the country you live in. But if you’re already in Canada, you can apply from within or from outside Canada. For instance, I had the choice between sending my application to Buffalo, NY or to Paris. At the time, Buffalo was extremely busy and I was advised to let Paris handle my application—it paid off, a decision was made only four months later.

Only contact your visa office when you are past the average processing time

The Government of Canada often lets you know how long a specific step will take—3 to 6 months, 5 to 7 months, etc. If you are past the average processing time, you can contact your visa office for updates. I 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.

However, wait patiently if you’re still within average processing times.

Keep in mind these two myths

Immigrating through the Quebec process is faster

The permanent residence process is a bit different if you’re going to settle in Quebec. Many French speakers think it’s faster and easier to apply through Quebec regardless of where they will end up living in Canada. It may have been true decades ago but nowadays, it adds an extra step (the CSQ application) and there’s quite a backlog.

An immigration lawyer can speed up the process

No, they can’t. A good, honest immigration representative will always tell you that they can’t speed up the process. The only thing they can do is make sure your application is properly and completely filled out.

 

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258 Comments

  1. ANJALY April 3, 2017 at 4:50 am

    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?

    Reply
    1. Zhu April 4, 2017 at 12:02 am

      It can take a long time and it’s not unheard of to see months going by without news.

      Reply
  2. Poornima April 18, 2017 at 11:45 pm

    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.

    Reply
    1. Zhu April 19, 2017 at 10:00 pm

      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.

      Reply
  3. Ghulam June 13, 2017 at 5:59 am

    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?

    Reply
    1. Zhu June 13, 2017 at 6:58 pm

      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.

      Reply
  4. PHILEMON June 30, 2017 at 8:08 am

    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

    Reply
    1. Zhu June 30, 2017 at 10:07 pm

      That’s very early in the process, it’s probably normal.

      Reply
  5. Asif July 28, 2017 at 6:40 am

    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.

    Reply
    1. Zhu July 28, 2017 at 2:00 pm

      No one can tell how long it will take.

      Reply
  6. Sonia Shahab August 14, 2017 at 1:41 pm

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

    Reply
    1. Zhu August 15, 2017 at 6:38 pm

      It depends on your visa office and on your immigration category.

      Reply
  7. Haruna Daura September 15, 2017 at 11:32 am

    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.

    Reply
    1. Zhu September 15, 2017 at 10:39 pm

      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!

      Reply
  8. Boulboul September 24, 2017 at 5:26 pm

    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,

    Reply
    1. Zhu September 25, 2017 at 12:44 am

      Processing timelines vary widely, but it usually takes at least a year. You can average processing times online.

      Reply
  9. Rimma October 4, 2017 at 10:56 pm

    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?

    Reply
    1. Zhu October 5, 2017 at 1:42 am

      I don’t know.

      Reply
  10. joyeb October 14, 2017 at 12:37 am

    how do i migrate to austrsliaya from canada

    Reply
    1. Zhu October 14, 2017 at 12:53 am

      Seriously?

      Reply
  11. Obot October 14, 2017 at 1:27 pm

    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

    Reply
    1. Zhu October 14, 2017 at 10:17 pm

      It’s impossible to know. I’d be wary of these law firms, though.

      Reply
  12. wanted khan November 26, 2017 at 6:09 am

    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

    Reply
    1. Zhu November 26, 2017 at 7:52 pm

      I’m not qualified to make case on a case I don’t know! How would I even know?!

      Reply
  13. KHA December 15, 2017 at 4:01 pm

    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 .

    Reply
    1. Zhu December 15, 2017 at 11:03 pm

      It’s impossible to tell. It depends on your application and on the visa office.

      Reply
  14. Jaggs December 20, 2017 at 2:01 am

    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.

    Reply
    1. Zhu December 20, 2017 at 7:58 pm

      It’s impossible to tell.

      Reply
  15. Ajay Lama January 15, 2018 at 4:22 pm

    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

    Reply
    1. Zhu January 16, 2018 at 11:46 pm

      Congrats! But there absolutely no way for me to guess 🙂

      Reply
      1. Ajay January 19, 2018 at 9:37 pm

        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

        Reply
        1. Zhu January 22, 2018 at 1:07 am

          I have no way to know, I’m not an immigration consultant!

          Reply
          1. Ajay Lama January 23, 2018 at 12:31 am

            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

          2. Zhu January 24, 2018 at 2:04 am

            That I know, you can live wherever you want in Canada.

  16. Ajay Lama January 28, 2018 at 3:48 pm

    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

    Reply
    1. Zhu January 28, 2018 at 10:16 pm

      As a PR, you’re free to live anywhere in Canada. It’s not an issue.

      Reply
      1. Ajay Lama January 30, 2018 at 11:41 am

        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

        Reply
        1. Zhu January 30, 2018 at 2:15 pm

          Like I said, as a PR you’re free to live wherever you want.

          Reply
  17. Anvi May 16, 2018 at 2:53 pm

    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.

    Reply
    1. Zhu May 18, 2018 at 1:15 am

      All the info you need is online.

      Reply
  18. Sherry September 24, 2018 at 4:08 pm

    My husband sponsor me from cananda since 30 10 2017 can u plz tell me how long more i have to wait to get through

    Reply
    1. Zhu September 25, 2018 at 12:56 am

      I have absolutely no way to know (nor does anyone else but CIC).

      Reply
  19. Nicholas April 7, 2019 at 10:49 am

    Hello there. I’ve heard from others that it’s recommended to consult a lawyer to help sort out the paperwork. Apparently it would lessen the chance if messing details up, and having them sent back to ask for clarification.

    What are your thoughts on this? Are there enough resources online to manage through it, or should I look into recruiting some assistance?

    Thanks for any info, and thanks for the article!

    Reply
    1. Zhu April 8, 2019 at 1:50 am

      I definitely don’t recommend hiring an immigration lawyer for most applications. It’s a waste of money unless your case is actually complicated. They are enough resources online to handle the process alone and most of us did just fine.

      Reply
  20. Adedotun sunday Adegoke July 24, 2019 at 11:50 am

    I JUST APPLIED FOR CSR HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE AND PLS WHAT ARE THE COST INVOLVED PLS I NEED ADVICE
    MY NAME IS ADEGOKE ADEDOTUN SUNDAY FROM NIGERIA PLS I WANT TO KNOW BECAUSE I WAS TOLD MY APPLICATION IS SUBMITTED JUST TODAY PLS

    Reply
    1. Zhu July 26, 2019 at 8:01 pm

      It usually take months for the application to be processed. You can check the timeline, average processing times and fee online.

      Reply
  21. Richlieu G. Zardee July 27, 2019 at 11:39 pm

    Hi
    I’m from Monrovia, Liberia. I’m looking forward to working in Canada. Can you please give me the wapsite that I can use to apply for Visa?
    Moreover, I’m new to the whole process. What would be the best category of Visa I should apply for.
    Thanks

    Reply
  22. Shantel Charlton October 27, 2019 at 8:18 pm

    I would like to tell u about sum one

    Reply

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