FAQs: What's the Wait? Canada's Immigration Processing Times

What’s the wait?! After the pandemic hit, many people, interested in immigrating to Canada, were left with a lot of uncertainty and questions. Questions like, “Will my visa still be processed and how long will it take?” or “Will I still be able to get into Canada with my visa?”, among many others.

Although there was a slight delay in processing, Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) never stopped accepting or processing visa applications. Some of Canada’s immigration programs have, however, been prioritized based on the needs of the country during COVID-19 as well as labour market needs.

Some of these programs include the Canadian Experience Class and Provincial Nominee programs under the Express Entry system which invites just under 4,000 candidates to apply for permanent residence every two weeks! This year, 66,475 newcomers have received Invitations to Apply (ITAs) for permanent residency, to date. With half of the year almost gone and an immigration target of issuing 401,000 ITAs by the end of 2021, the odds of you getting your very own ITA is more than optimistic!

Ready to find out everything you need to know about how long it will take to get a visa for Canada and how to avoid delays?

Keep reading to find out the answers to these top 8 frequently asked questions about Canada's immigration and visa processing times!

FAQ 1: How Long Does it Take for a Canadian Visa to Be Processed?

close up of businessman checking time on watch | Canada's Immigration Processing Times

This depends on a few factors. The first factor that could impact the processing time of your visa application is where you are applying from. The second factor is which program or visa you are applying for, the third is the details of your case based on your specific circumstances as well as your method of application and whether or not your application was complete.

Where are you applying from?

The country you are applying from can have an effect on your application for temporary visas such as Canadian work visas or permits, travel visas, and Working Holiday Visas (Canadian Experience Class Programs). Certain Visa Application Centres (VACs), located across the world, have been affected by COVID-19 and are operating within limited hours and with limited resources. Some are still reopening, which is why the country your application is submitted from may affect your application times.

It is important to note that most VACs are currently not accepting paper applications for visitor's, study, and work visas.

Which program or visa you are applying for?

The visa program you choose will affect your visa processing time. Below is a breakdown of some of Canada’s immigration and visa programs and their average estimated processing times.


Canada’s Immigration and Visa Processing Times
Visa/ProgramAverage Estimated Processing Times
Express Entry System6 months
Provincial Nominee Program (Express Entry)6 months
Provincial Nominee Program (non-Express Entry)15 -19 months
Atlantic Immigration Pilot6 months
Visitor's visaDependent on Country of Application
Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA)5 minutes (Dependent on Country of Application)
Canada Work visa/permit (outside Canada)Dependent on Country of Application
Canada Work visa/permit (inside Canada)38 days
Student visa/permit (outside Canada)9 weeks
Student visa/permit (inside Canada)10 weeks
Student visa/permit extension57 days
Working Holiday Visa (International Experience Canada)59 weeks (Dependent on Country of Application)
Caregiver ProgramsNo processing times available
Start-Up Visa12 - 16 weeks (Dependent on Country of Application)

Remember these application processing times do not include the time that it takes to apply for permanent residency. It generally takes around 45 days to process new Permanent Residency (PR) cards.

We offer processing times based on your personal needs

Visa processing times can vary depending on the complexity or simplicity of your visa application case. Our immigration professionals will assess your application through an in-depth eligibility assessment and based on your chosen program will devise an immigration strategy that is tailored to your needs.

Based on the average government processing times as well as which supporting documentation the Canadian government requests, the processing times may be longer or shorter.

Method of application

There are two application methods: online or paper-based. Online applications are always recommended, not only because it allows for faster visa processing times, but because it is easier, more convenient, and efficient. You are less likely to forget supporting documentation or leave a space blank as the platform will indicate that there is a section that is incomplete.

Is your application complete?

If you are applying online, you will not be able to submit your application if there are sections left blank, however applying by paper could leave room for error. Having an experienced professional helping you every step of the way is another way to avoid application errors. They know exactly what is needed to achieve a successful visa application in the quickest possible way.

FAQ 2: How Can I Get a Canada Visa Fast?

abstract motion blur city at night | Canada's Immigration Processing Times

The British Columbia Provincial Nominee Program (BC PNP) offers faster visa processing times than most, of just two to three months, however, there are other programs that also offer fast-tracked visa applications.

The Student Direct Stream

Do you want to study in Canada but want to get to Canada faster rather than later? If you are from one of the following countries you may qualify for faster processing times of just 20 calendar days!

Eligible Countries for SDS

  • China
  • India
  • Morocco
  • Pakistan
  • The Philippines
  • Senegal; and
  • Vietnam.

The Global Talent Stream

Canada’s Global Talent Stream is aimed at speeding up highly qualified and experienced foreign worker’s visa applications, especially those in information technology occupations.

FAQ 3: How Long Does it Take to Get a Canada Visa After Having Biometrics?

Having your biometrics processed is generally very quick, no more than 15 to 20 minutes to be exact. You will be notified to submit your biometrics and have up to 30 days to submit them. Biometrics application times are not included in processing times for visitors, study, and work permits but are generally included in permanent residency application processing times. The sooner you submit your biometrics, the sooner you’ll get your Canadian visa.

It’s important to be aware that you may have to schedule an appointment beforehand as well as to remember that paper applications take longer than online or Visa Application Centre (VAC) applications. Applying by paper and delaying the processing time from a few days to a few weeks.

For more information on what to do if your biometrics application is affected by COVID-19, visit the government website for updates.

FAQ 4: Does the Canada Visa Processing Times Include Weekends?

Yes. All processing times are estimated and include weekends as well as holidays.

FAQ 5: How Do I Know My Canadian Visa is Processed?

stamp immigration to Canada approved | Canada's Immigration Processing Times

This depends on your method of application. If you applied online you can check your status through your account, which you need to create when applying through most Canadian immigration programs. For those who applied for their visa by mail, you can either check your status through the government online tool or create an online account and link your paper application.

FAQ 6: Why is My Canadian Visa Delayed?

There are various reasons that your visa could be delayed. Excluding COVID-19 delays, there are many things you can do to avoid the disappointment and frustration of a delayed visa application.

How To Avoid Delays and Refusals

  • Consult the application guide for instructions on how to complete your visa application;
  • Fill out the application according to the guidelines as well as sign and date your forms;
  • If required; provide biometrics as soon as possible;
  • Provide all supporting documents stated on the checklist provided
  • Use the correct fee payment method;
  • Include your payment with your application
  • Delay in medical and security screenings;
  • An interview is requested by IRCC;
  • Communicate via mail instead of through your online account; and
  • There is a high number of applications.

FAQ 7: Which Canadian Immigration Program Has the Fastest Processing Times?

Canada visa processing times infographic | frequently asked questions

The fastest immigration program is the British Columbia Provincial Nominee Program with an average processing time of two to three months.

FAQ 8: Can an Immigration Lawyer or Consultant Speed Up the Process?

Yes and no. Although an immigration lawyer or Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant (RCIC) has no control of visa processing times or whether or not your visa is approved, they can make the application process more streamlined and less likely to experience delays. This is because they undergo intense training and are well educated on the Canadian immigration system as well as procedures and requirements.

Top 3 Ways to Immigrate to Canada in 2021

House on Canada part of world map | Canada's Immigration Processing Times

Believe it or not, Canada’s immigration and visa system have over 100 options available to foreigners. Certain programs, however, are more popular than others.

1. Express Entry

The Express Entry system has three immigration pathways that it manages:

  • The Federal Skilled Worker Program;
  • The Federal Skilled Trade Program; and
  • The Canadian Experience Class.

The Express Entry system helps skilled foreign workers get permanent residency in as little as six to eight months. Successful applicants are selected from draw pools every two weeks, depending on whether or not they have an attractive Express Entry Profile.

Your Express Entry profile will contain personal information about yourself, your skills, and qualifications, among other things. You will be ranked against other candidates and those with the highest-scoring profiles will be invited to apply for permanent residency.

2. Provincial Nominee Program

The Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) is slightly different from the Express Entry system. It is focused on helping foreigners with in-demand skill sets and a job offer in particular provinces find PR in Canada. You can apply through the PNP in one of two ways.

The first process is by applying directly to the province or territory of your choice. This process can be quite lengthy, with average processing times of 15 to 18 months, however, many provinces are now developing their own online portals to help make the application process quicker and easier.

The other option is to take the Express Entry-linked pathways to the province of your choice. If you qualify for one of the above-mentioned EXpress Entry Programs and have a specific province or territory in mind, all you have to do is express interest in that specific province when creating your Express Entry profile. This will indicate to the respective provinces that you intend to live and work in their province and could lead to a Provincial Nomination (PN). PNs are highly sought after as they are worth 600 extra PR points, which all but guarantees a successful visa application.

3. Atlantic Immigration Pilot

Fancy living by the sea in a close-knit community with all the comforts of big city life? Canada’s four maritime provinces need skilled workers with specialized skills to help fill the labour gap they are currently experiencing. They are:

  • New Brunswick
  • Newfoundland & Labrador
  • Nova Scotia; and
  • Prince Edward Island;

If you have a job offer in one of these beautiful provinces you may be eligible to apply for Canadian permanent residency through the AIP.

Ready to move to Canada and start your new life in one of the most dynamic and welcoming countries in the world?