If you’re interested in coming to Canada, whether for a short visit, long term work or study, or even permanently, a major part of planning one’s itinerary is the expectation of when you will be allowed to enter the country. Pre-authorization, whether with a visa or an eTA (Electronic Travel Authorization) is the best way to guarantee entry, keeping in mind that regardless of one’s permit from IRCC, the border officers have the final say on any entry. This article will give you a better idea of what to expect from wait times, and how they may be lengthened or shortened by your own actions.
For travelers from visa-free countries, such as those of the Schengen Agreement, all one needs is an eTA, which is usually processed within minutes online. There are some situations, however, in which it may take somewhat longer, often because something in the application requires IRCC to take more time to review it, and in those cases they may ask you for additional documents or even schedule an interview with you. If speed is of the essence, then providing whatever is requested as soon as possible will allow them to make their final decision, hopefully an approval, that much sooner.
Travellers who require a visa to enter Canada will need more time for their applications to be processed, and these periods vary greatly, depending on many different factors. The starting point for your planning should be the official IRCC processing website at https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/services/application/check-processing-times.html ; it gives estimates of times for all types of applications, whether temporary or permanent, and can also be specified to the country where the application is submitted.
Unfortunately, as the site itself proclaims, these are only estimates, and experience in many applications a country with a 70 day processing times may be returned within only 8 days, or take far longer than the estimate as well. The various visa offices of IRCC around the world may be above or below their capacity, depending on how many applications they receive, which is in turn dependant on all sorts of local, regional, or even global events. Some applications will always take longer than others. Permanent residency of any kind, whether Express Entry, sponsorship, or others, will usually take longer than temporary applications, simply because the number of documents required is greater, and applicant histories are more detailed and scrutinized more closely.
Despite all of the above, there are certain things you can do to maximize your chances of a reasonable processing time with minimal delays. In order of importance, they are:
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This blog details the many legal issues among Luka's practice areas, for a general audience. None of this information is a substitute for legal advice.