IRCC Processing Times - How Fast Can You Move to Canada

July 7, 2023


  • Shireen Fisher

You have just made one of the most significant decisions of your life - to take the leap and move to Canada. After taking your time to fill out all the necessary documents and making sure your application package is complete, you have submitted everything. Now the waiting begins. But how long will it take for Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) to process your visa application? This article takes a look at IRCC processing times to give you a better idea of the time it will take for you to get on your way to a new beginning in this North American wonderland.

Application processing times are usually set following the most recent government update. Following huge application volumes due to a backlog brought on by the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, IRCC has improved its operations systems, staffing, and application procedures. It has also added an online processing times tool to make things as seamless as possible for applicants. Immigration Minister Sean Fraser announced this update at the end of the first quarter of 2022. This means you can now get a more accurate estimation of the application processing timeframe.

Processing Times and Service Standards

IRCC’s processing times inform applicants of past applications' processing time. This is updated weekly. Permanent resident and citizenship services are now implementing more effective processing times. Updated calculations will be posted weekly on the IRCC’s website, in line with data collected six months before. These processing times are also being utilized for temporary residence services but are according to data from the last four months. The updated estimates are indicative of the number of applications in the system. As a result, they now give you a better idea of the timeline you can expect.

Service standards reflect IRCC’s commitment to getting through applications in a set period. These standards are not utilized in all programs. They are also not updated often. In the past, the IRCC website displayed only service standards meant to showcase its commitment to processing applications under normal circumstances.

The IRCC Processing Times Calculation Process

IRCC tracks processing times by examining the time it took to process previous applications.

When Does the Processing Time Start?

Your IRCC processing time will start on the day IRCC receives your complete application and payment of fees. This will depend on whether you have fulfilled all the requirements in the application form. Processing can be finalized once the immigration official approves or rejects your application.

What if I Apply By Mail?

If you send your application by mail, the Canada processing time will start when your complete application reaches the IRCC mail room.

What If I Apply Online or in person?

If you apply online or in person, the Canada processing time will come into effect as soon as it is submitted.

With the visa processing wheels now fully in motion, you are likely to eventually receive your visa - if your application is in order. There are, however, several factors that influence processing times.

Factors That Influence IRCC Processing Times

Several factors could affect the time it takes to process your application for your move to Canada. These include:

  • The program or visa you apply for
  • The accuracy and completeness of your application
  • The speed at which the IRCC anticipates the processing of applications already submitted
  • Whether your information can be verified easily or not
  • The time it takes you to respond to requests or issues flagged by IRCC This is demonstrated in the infographic below.

Processing times do not include time taken for:

  • Biometrics
  • Mailing
  • IRCC receiving your passport to insert visa and return to you

Processing could take longer for:

  • Routine verifications
  • Security checks

Processing Time for Visas and Immigration Programs

Now that you better understand processing times, here is a breakdown of estimates for many different visas and immigration programs.

Temporary Residence Application

Visa Processing Time
Work permit application made outside of Canada Dependent on your country of origin
Work permit application made in Canada 142 days online and 18 days by paper initial and extension)
International Experience Canada (IEC) Dependent on your country of origin and the pool you are in
Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA) This could take a few minutes. but some cases can take a few days
Visitor visa application made outside Canada Dependent on your country of origin
Visitor visa application made from within Canada 19 days online and 35 days with a paper application
Visitor extension 148 days online and 113 days by paper
Study permit outside Canada Depends on your country of origin
Study permit inside Canada 6 weeks
Study permit extension 96 days online and 161 days by paper

Economic Class Immigration

Program Processing Time
Atlantic Immigration Program 5 months
Caregivers Pilots Initial applications: 12 months; Finalizing applications: 6 months
Express Entry Canadian Experience Class (CEC) 4 months
Express Entry Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP) 7 months online
Express Entry Federal Skilled Trades Program (FSTP) Information unavailable
Express Entry Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) 9 months if online
Provincial Nominee Program (non-Express Entry) 18 months
Self-employed persons (Federal) 50 months
Start-up Visa 37 months

Family Sponsorship

Relative Processing Time
Spouse or common-law partner living in Canada (outside Quebec) 11 months
Spouse or common-law partner living in Canada (in Quebec) 26 months
Spouse or common-law partner living outside Canada 14 months
Parents or grandparents (who will be living outside Quebec) 23 months
Parents or grandparents (who will be living in Quebec) 45 months
Dependent child Dependent on your country of origin
Adopted child or relative Dependent on your country of origin


Step Processing Time
Citizenship grant 19 months
Citizenship certificate (Proof of citizenship) 10 months
Resumption of citizenship 30 months
Renunciation of citizenship 14 months
Search of citizenship record 14 months
Adoption (part one) 18 months
Adoption (part two) Varies according to case

Permanent Resident (PR) cards

Step Processing Time
Renewing or replacing a PR card 95 days
Waiting for first card 28 days

Remember: IRCC Processing time estimations change regularly, so make sure that you check the IRCC website regularly. While the website may suggest a timeframe for processing, you must also consider that applications may be subject to individual circumstances.


Is There a Reason That Some Application Processing Times Change While Others Stay the Same?

Yes. Application volumes may affect processing times. Some programs get a similar amount of applications every month. In this case, the processing time is likely to stay as is. There are also programs for which applications vary. This often leads to changes in processing times.

What Does “In Process” Mean When it Comes to Applications?

It means that the application sent to IRCC has been opened, reviewed for completeness, and an official has started to enter into the computer system.

What is a Complete Application Package?

An application package is considered complete as soon as you have answered all the questions on the document, submitted proof of payment of fees, and all requested documents.

Remember that your application will be returned if anything is missing or the fees are unpaid. Unfortunately, this will delay the processing, and your application may be rejected. So ensure everything is 100% complete and accurate to avoid complications that could negatively affect your move to Canada.