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Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada has announced an update that will improve its processing time estimates available via the online processing time tool for select immigration programs. This is welcome news for newcomers, since more accurate estimates mean you can better plan for your immigration decision.

This is a game changer. For those on maintained status for the select applications, it gives a realistic timeline for the length of time they will not be able to leave Canada to visit their family and friends. For those looking to move to Canada, it provides the information needed to wrap up their lives in their current country and start the logistics of an international move. 

Key Takeaways

  • Applicants from select programs will benefit from more accurate processing times on their applications. 
  • Some of the programs include spousal sponsorship, Canadian Experience Class, Federal Skilled Worker, and PNPs (Express Entry and non-Express Entry). See below for a complete list. 
  • Application times are still available for other programs via the online application processing tool. However, these programs will have backward-looking processing times, which are less accurate. 
  • It’s possible that IRCC will continue to roll out forward-looking processing times for additional applications in the future. 
  • This change does not mean that these applications will be processed faster. It only relates to the accuracy of the timelines provided by IRCC.


What Are Forward-Looking Processing Times? 

Forward-looking processing times are an estimate of how long applicants applying today should expect to wait before a final decision is made on their application. They are more accurate and realistic than backward-looking processing times, which is what IRCC has previously used to predict processing times. 

Forward-looking processing times consider the total number of that application type IRCC expects to process. 

Defining Backward-Looking Processing Times

Backward-looking processing times are calculated based on how long it took IRCC to process 80% of all applications over a set period of time. The period of time was 6 months for permanent residence programs and 8 or 16 weeks for temporary residence programs. 

As you might expect, these are less accurate than the forward looking times because it doesn’t take any recent changes into account. These backward-looking timelines don’t consider staffing changes, application volume fluctuations, or various other factors considered for forward-looking application times. 

How Accurate Are Forward-Looking Processing Times? 

IRCC updates the forward-looking processing time each month, so they are accurate enough to be used as a general guideline. 

However, it’s important to remember that the forward-looking processing time is based on the number of applications in IRCC’s inventory, as well as IRCC staffing volumes and estimates about future application volumes. 

It’s also important to remember that there will be applications that fall outside of this processing timeline. For instance, your application may be returned if it is not complete. It may also be delayed if there are specific elements of your application that are more complex or require further investigation. 

Other factors that might impact your application processing time include:

  • how easily IRCC can verify your information
  • how long you take to respond to any request or concerns
  • other factors.
Check The Processing Time On The Date You Submit Your Application

These processing times will vary over time. You should check the application processing times on the day you apply for the most up-to-date information. If you check six months later, the results won’t be accurate for you – those results will reflect the expected wait for someone applying that day.


Which Applications Will See Improved Application Processing Time Estimates?

The following applications will benefit from forward-looking processing times: 

  • Canadian Experience Class (Express Entry)
  • Provincial Nominees Program (Express Entry and non-Express Entry)
  • Federal Skilled Workers (Express Entry)
  • Quebec Skilled Workers
  • citizenship grants and citizenship certificate (proof of citizenship)
  • spouse or common-law partner living inside Canada (Spousal sponsorship)
  • spouse, common-law or conjugal partner living outside Canada (Spousal sponsorship)
  • parents or grandparents (Super Visa).

What About Applications That Have Already Been Submitted? 

Applications that are already submitted to IRCC will not be able to see forward-looking processing times. 

This means that applicants who have already submitted may have already been waiting for longer than the new projected times. This is to be expected, since the forward-looking processing times consider how long it is expected to take for the application process from start to finish for someone submitting that day.

Processing times can and do vary, based on a wide range of factors. And it is highly likely that they will vary over time. 

If the processing time looks shorter than the amount of time you have been waiting, do not resubmit your application. Your application is already further ahead in the queue and will be processed in priority of applications submitted today. 

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About the author

Stephanie Ford profile picture

Stephanie Ford

Finance, Law and Immigration Writer
Stephanie is a content marketer who has written for law firms (with a focus on immigration and privacy), legal tech companies, and finance professionals for more than 9 years. She earned a Bachelor of Laws and a Graduate Diploma in Financial Planning in Australia. Stephanie is now a permanent resident of Canada and a full-time writer at Moving2Canada.
Read more about Stephanie Ford
Citation "Improved Processing Times Estimates: A Win for Permanent Residence Applicants." Moving2Canada. . Copy for Citation


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