How long are Canada’s immigration processing times?
A pressing question for our clients is how long the Canadian immigration process takes and what can be done to speed it up.
The Government of Canada has a website that allows you to check immigration processing times for different types of applications. For example, the website estimates that spousal sponsorship applications take 12 months and that permanent residence applications on humanitarian and compassionate grounds could take 22-36 months. Meanwhile, a decision for an application in the Canadian Experience Class may only take 6 months. While these guidelines are a good starting point, cases can, and often do, take longer. Note for example that these estimated timelines do not include delays caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Why do immigration applications take so long?
Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) require a lot of information from those applying to enter Canada. Applications may require immigration forms, travel documents, government identification, and police record checks, among several other documents. Once submitted, these documents need to be verified for authenticity and accuracy. IRCC may end up asking for more information, such as medical examinations and biometrics, all of which are time-consuming to obtain.
Delays in immigration decisions can be caused by several factors, including external factors that cannot be controlled like the COVID-19 pandemic, or by avoidable mistakes like failing to submit a full or accurate application.
Some of the leading causes of immigration application delays include:
The COVID-19 pandemic has created huge delays in immigration cases all over the world. In many countries, embassies and high commissions were closed. Courts and government offices were initially shut down to combat the pandemic, and in many regions have just recently re-opened.
As offices begin to open up in Canada, extreme delays can still be expected. Many government offices in foreign countries are still shut down, and there is now a huge backlog of applications to work through. Applications that were originally estimated to take 1-2 years may now take an additional several months or years.
- Not submitting the right documents or applying under the wrong program
There are several streams of entry to Canada and it is important that you apply under the correct stream. Each stream requires different documentation, so it’s important to follow the directions for the particular stream under which you are applying. Applying under the wrong stream can cause delays as your application will be returned to you and will have to start over with a new application under the correct stream, which could involve filling out different forms, gather differing documents, and submitting different information.
- Not submitting all the required documents
Similar to the above point, even if you apply under the right stream, it is crucial that you submit all the documents you are asked to submit. IRCC’s policy is to return incomplete submissions. The entire application then needs to be resubmitted with the additional documents, which leads to delays and additional fees.
- Providing wrong information
Misrepresenting yourself on your application also often leads to significant delays in processing your application. Misrepresentation is the intentional changing of facts or information, and can be done by lying, providing wrong information, or intentionally providing false documents. Misrepresenting yourself to Canadian immigration authorities is a criminal offence, and often results in having your application refused, being barred from re-applying for five years, and being banned from entering Canada for five years.
While it may be possible to appeal if your application is refused for misrepresentation, immigration appeals are costly and take even more time. It is fastest to submit your application accurately the first time.
How can I speed up the immigration process?
The number one way to ensure your application is reviewed in a timely manner is to submit all of the correct documents the first time you apply. Gathering all the correct information can be a long process, but is required before you can even submit your application. Our firm can help in ensuring that the right documents are prepared correctly. Immigration rules and policies are complicated and change all the time. We can assist by determining how these changes may affect your case.
If you’ve already submitted your application and it’s taking much longer than the estimated processing times, it may be appropriate to file a mandamus application. In this situation, our office can help you to bring a mandamus appeal to the Federal Court, asking the court to order the immigration authority to make a decision in your case.
Among other things, the conditions necessary to demonstrate that a writ of mandamus should be issued include that the immigration authority has a public legal duty to act and that they owe the duty to you. You must have made a prior demand to the immigration authorities to complete the process, and it must be shown that there was unreasonable delay in your case, as compared to the normal or average processing times.
A problem that arises in this situation is that delays due to the COVID-19 pandemic are unlikely to count toward unreasonable delay. However, as Canada begins to open up and resume business-as-usual, it will become harder for IRCC to blame delays on the COVID-19 pandemic, and mandamus applications may once again become an incredibly effective tool in speeding up the immigration process.
Convincing the court to issue an order of mandamus is a complex matter that requires the assistance of an experienced lawyer. The Law Office of Matthew Jeffery has significant expertise in immigration matters and mandamus applications and can assist you with your case. Please contact us to see if we can help you with your immigration process.