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Canada vs the United States: Processing times for skilled worker immigrants

For those who are considering immigrating to a new country, the amount of time it will take to process an immigration application likely factors into the decision of whether or not the immigration process is worthwhile. If you are debating between immigration to Canada or the United States, this article will help you understand the differences in processing times.

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Overview: Canada has faster processing times, less restrictive applications

In this article, we looked at the process for getting permanent resident status for workers in Canada and the US. In the United States, this is demonstrated by obtaining a US Green Card. In Canada, this is done by obtaining the Permanent Resident card.

Our overall findings show that Canada’s immigration process can be completed in less than 6 months, from start to finish, versus the American process which can take up to six years, depending on where a person applies and how lucky they are with their processing times.

The other major notable difference is that the US Green Card application requires an applicant to be sponsored by their US employer, whereas Canadian applicants are not required to have a job offer or Canadian work experience in order to apply.

The United States: Processing times for skilled worker immigrants

The major pathway for skilled workers who wish to obtain a Green Card is through the Employment-Based Immigration pathway. Except in extraordinary cases, in order to apply through this process, a worker must be sponsored by their US employer and the employer is responsible for submitting a portion of the application.

The US Employment-Based Green Card application is a two-step process:

Step 1: Employer Sponsorship Form (Form I-140)

This is a form submitted by the employer attesting to the skills of the worker, the specialty of the occupation in question, and the inability to find someone in the United States to fill the position.

Processing time: 3.5 months to 8.5 months

Step 2: Green Card Application (Form I-485)

This is a form submitted by the foreign national, which constitutes the application for permanent resident status and the US Green Card.

Processing time: 6 months to 42 months

Processing times for green card applications vary depending on the state and the application centre where they are submitted. Some application centres boast a processing time as fast as 6 months, with the longer processing times surpassing 5 years.

Canada: Processing times for skilled worker immigrants

Canada’s major system for processing skilled worker applications is called Express Entry. Unlike the US system, Express Entry candidates do not need a Canadian job offer or Canadian work experience to apply. It should be noted that Canada does have a few other immigration programs for skilled workers which are subject to their own processing times, but this article is focused on Express Entry.

The Express Entry immigration process is a two-step process:

Step 1: Creation of the Express Entry profile

In order to create an Express Entry profile, a person must have an approved language test showing their ability in English or French, as well as an Educational Credentials Assessment showing the value of all foreign education in Canada, and official identification documents, like passports, for all adults included on the application.

Processing time: There is no processing time for an Express Entry profile. All candidates who have the necessary documents can create and upload an Express Entry profile immediately. Then, approximately twice a month, the Canadian government issues a round of Invitations to Apply (ITAs) to those people in the Express Entry pool with the most competitive profiles.

Step 2: Permanent Resident Application

After receiving an ITA, an Express Entry candidate will have 60 days to submit a complete application for permanent residence.

Processing time: 80% of applications are processed in 6 months or less. For the highly popular Federal Skilled Worker (FSW) program, 80% of applications are actually processed in less than 4 months.

It is clear that the pathway to permanent residency for workers is substantially easier for qualified applicants applying through Canada rather than the United States. To find out if you are qualified for Canada’s Express Entry system, simply complete our free assessment! We will review your eligibility and contact you to discuss your options.

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The Canadim Team!


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