processing times

Canadian Immigration Processing Times: How Long Does it Take?

Published on: November 1st, 2023
Last updated: March 8th, 2024

One of the most common questions asked by potential Canadian immigrants is “how long will my immigration application take to be processed?” We put together all the information you need about immigration processing times and how long it takes to immigrate to Canada.

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Processing Times for Canadian Immigration

Applicants for any type of visa or permit to Canada should take into account the average processing times when calculating how long it will take for them to hear back on their application.

DEFINITION:

In Canadian immigration, the processing time is how long it takes authorities with Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) to process your application, from the day they receive it to the day they come to a decision.

Please note that processing times do not include the time it may take to submit an expression of interest and receive an Invitation to Apply, to prepare documents, to submit an application, or for the mailing of finalized visas, permits, status cards, etc.

What Affects my Processing Time?

There are a few factors that will affect the processing time of your application and how long it takes to immigrate or come to Canada:

  1. Country of residence: Some IRCC processing times vary depending on a person’s country of residence. Before Dec 2015, processing times for different services would be displayed according to the visa office. This was because applications for both permanent and temporary residence, visas, and permits, were processed by the nearest visa office. Today applications are moved around the global network of visa offices to make processing as efficient as possible, so your application may not necessarily be processed at the visa office closest to you, but rather at the office best designed to process your application efficiently.
  2. Type of application: Processing times for different types of visas and permits also differ. The type of application, as well as the number of candidates currently being processed in that category, can both affect the processing time. If a program receives more applications than expected, then it may take longer to process.
  3. Completeness: If an application is incomplete, IRCC may either refuse the applicant altogether, or they may request more information which can cause significant delays to processing.

Average Processing Times for Immigration Programs

Below, we go through some of the most popular streams and approximate processing times. It is important to remember that processing times cannot be guaranteed and are estimates only. The following times are based on IRCC’s average processing times as stated on November, 2023.

Please note that sometimes processing times depend on whether an application was submitted electronically using the online procedure, or in hard copy through a paper-based procedure. Processing times outlined below specify if they vary between online versus paper-based applications.

* If you have already applied, you can check your status page for for more information on the processing time for your application.

Express Entry

This includes the Federal Skilled Worker (FSW), Federal Skilled Trades (FST), and Canadian Experience Class (CEC) streams, as well as some Provincial Nominee Programs (PNP).

In 80% of cases, an application submitted through Express Entry is processed within 6 months from the date it is received. For current processing times, please visit the IRCCs page for the most current information.

Please note that the processing times do not include the time it takes to submit an Express Entry profile, receive an Invitation to Apply (ITA), and prepare the final application for submission. If you’re looking to find out the estimated duration for the entire Express Entry process, starting from the preparation stage, please refer to our guide titled How Long Does Express Entry Take in Canada?

Study Permit

Study permits vary greatly in processing time depending on the applicant’s country of residence.

The shortest processing time is approximately 8 weeks, but applicants applying from some countries can expect processing times close to 17 weeks. Study visa processing times also vary depending on the volume of applications received, so if you’re applying close to the beginning of Canada’s academic year you may experience delays.

To see current processing times for student visas, please visit the IRCCs website.

Post-Graduation Work Permit

This is a visa type that falls under the work permit extension category. Application processing times for post-graduation work permits vary depending on which method you use to apply.

If you submit your application online or by mail, it should be processed within 134 days.

Permanent Resident Card

A new permanent resident (PR) card takes 36 days to process. However, renewing or replacing an old PR card takes can take 70 days to process.

Sponsoring a Spouse for Permanent Residence

Applications take approximately 12 months to be processed when sponsoring a spouse for permanent residence.

Processing times used to vary depending on whether the spouse was residing inside or outside of Canada (inland sponsorship vs outland sponsorship), but they have now been largely standardized to within 12-16 months for all spousal sponsorship applications for the majority of the provinces.

If you are applying to live in Quebec, the processing time could take up to 25 months.

Visitor Visa

Processing times for a visitor visa depend on where you are making the application from, and how.

If you apply from within Canada, online and paper-based applications are processed within 10-27 days. However, applications made from outside of Canada will vary depending on the applicant’s country of residence.

Please see the IRCC’s website to determine the processing time from your country of residence.

How long it takes to immigrate to Canada can vary greatly depending on the details of your case. It should be noted that all times mentioned above are in no way guaranteed, and are subject to change without notice, at the discretion of IRCC.

 

To find out more about moving to Canada under any category, get in touch with us today by completing a free assessment form below!

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