How do Immigration Processing Times Work?

The first thing to do is to look at the applicable deadlines for the type of applications you are about to launch.

The deadlines are posted online on the IRCC website: Check processing times –

A delay is displayed. Here is how to interpret it. First, it is the average time for 80% of requests similar to yours, i.e., 80% of requests were finalized in less time or within this time frame. Second, it is calculated from the day the application is received by mail or online (not from the time the acknowledgement of receipt is sent) until the officer’s decision. Finally, this period is not a promise on the part of the federal administration. It is the time limit for finalized applications at the time you consult the IRCC information tool regarding deadlines. The tool is retrospective and is not an indication for the future. For example, you submit a sponsorship application believing that your waiting period will be 12 months based on the time frame posted online, but to your dismay, the time frame is increasing to 24 months. By the time your file is finalized, the online timelines have changed to show 24 months of processing for a sponsorship application like yours.

What happens to the 20% of files that exceed the deadline published online? If the analysis time of your file exceeds the processing times posted online, it is time to react. You must contact the Canadian immigration authorities through their web form to advise them of the situation and check if they are waiting for information that you have omitted to provide them or if something else is preventing your file from advancing normally.

There are several reasons why delays may occur. First, the delays may be beyond your control and may be due solely to the officer handling your file or to administrative problems within IRCC. It may also be your responsibility: if Immigration gives you 30 days to provide a document and you need 60 days to provide it, you should expect a 30-day delay.

Finally, your file may require additional verification by IRCC. Until the situation requiring additional checks is resolved, your file will be drawn out over time. The files that are often difficult in this regard are children’s immigration files where the consent of one of the parents is missing as well as secure verification files. If security verifications must be done on your file, Canadian immigration authorities may transfer your file to the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, which will in turn make inquiries to foreign authorities. Of course, the authorities in a foreign country may be less eager than you are to see your immigration file completed, answers will be slow to come and delays may drag on and on … and on.

What should you do if you are unaware of the cause of the delays or if the delays in your file show clear negligence on the part of IRCC? We suggest that you first submit an Access to Information request to gain access to the notes entered by the agents in your file. This process will inform you of the status of your file and whether it has been blocked.

After several years, if you find that the delays cannot be explained and that the federal government is negligent in its handling of your file, you may apply to the Federal Court for an order of mandamus to force the government to process your application. This remedy is an exceptional remedy, and you will have the burden of showing that you meet the conditions for obtaining it.

Frequently Asked Questions no. 2
How do immigration deadlines work?