Immigration to a new country can be both an exciting and anxious time, as you wait for an answer to your application. In the US, it’s possible to pay for faster immigration processing, but that is not the case in Canada. Fortunately, the average processing time for Canadian permanent residency (PR) applications is just 45 days. The most effective way to fast-track permanent residency in Canada is to avoid any delays within your application. The actual time it will take to process a Canadian PR application, however, varies, based on your specific case and where you applied.
The application package from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) includes all forms, supporting documents and information you’ll need to fill out applications for visas, permanent residence and citizenship. This package is sometimes referred to as your “application kit.”
The Canadian immigration process becomes easier and processing time quicker when all of the requested documentation in your application has been included. Some of the required documents may include medical exams, police certificates, passport copies, requested travel information, proof of funds, proof of work experience, and requested marriage, divorce, death, and birth or adoption certificates.
Here’s a basic list of the documentation IRCC may need if you want to study, work temporarily, or become a permanent resident of Canada. Note that some of the items are case-specific, and may not apply to your unique situation.
If you are applying for permanent residence (PR) in Canada you will need to provide:
- a medical examination confirmation
- a police certificate
- a copy of your passport
- a copy of the travel document biodata page
- a birth certificate, if declaring dependent children
- an adoption certificate, if declaring dependent children that were adopted
- a representative form, if a representative is helping you with the application
- a common-law union form, if you’ve indicated your marital status is “common-law”
- a marriage certificate, if you’ve indicated your marital status is “married”
- a divorce certificate and copy of the legal separation agreement, if you’ve indicated your marital status is “divorced”
- a death certification, if you’ve indicated your marital status is “widowed”
- proof of work experience
- proof of funds
- other mandatory documents where applicable
To ensure the timely processing of your application, proper documentation is essential for express entry. Failure to submit proper documentation may result in application rejection or refusal from IRCC.
Other documents that may be required might include:
- proof of your relationship to a relative in Canada
- digital photos to confirm your identity
- another name to confirm any aliases
- an Authority to Release Personal Information to a Designated Individual form
- any other documents deemed relevant to your application
When applying to the Express Entry system you should also include:
- your Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB)/Niveaux de compétence linguistique canadiens (NCLC) language test results
- your Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) nomination, if applicable
- a written job offer from a Canadian employer
- certifications or qualifications for the applicable trades, issued by the Canadian province or territory
It should go without saying, but always tell the truth on your application.
Reasons Your PR Application Processing Could be Delayed
Failure to Mention Factors Affecting Inadmissibility
Inadmissible individuals are not permitted by law to enter or remain in Canada. You may be deemed inadmissible due to health, for criminal reasons, national security reasons, the likelihood of becoming a public charge, failure to meet residency obligations, fraud or misrepresentation, human or international rights violations, a prior removal or other grounds.
Failure to mention factors that could potentially make you inadmissible is one of the main reasons PR applications are held up. If the immigration officer needs to consult with other offices in Canada or abroad, because there appear to be inconsistencies or red flags, this will take time.
Misrepresentation, which may include providing false information or withholding information directly related to decisions made under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA), would not only result in you being denied a visa but could make it more difficult should you ever plan to reapply.
In many cases, inadmissibility can be overcome with the help of an immigration lawyer. If you suspect you may be inadmissible, it’s a good idea to book a one-on-one consultation to find out where you stand. Counsel may recommend another entry strategy or help you truthfully present your documentation in a way that minimizes the chance of your application being delayed or refused.
A Family Situation that is Unclear
The documents you submit to show your family situation must clearly define your current relationships. If your family situation is unclear to the immigration officer reviewing your application the process cannot proceed.
If you’re declaring dependent children you will need a birth certificate or adoption certificate for each one. If you’re declaring your marital status as common-law, you will need to submit a common-law union form. A divorce certificate and legal separation agreement are required if you’ve declared your marital status as divorced. A death certificate is required if you’ve declared your marital status as widowed. You may also be required to submit proof of relationship to a relative in Canada.
Lack of Follow-up and Missed Deadlines
You must log in to your IRCC account often to make sure you respond to any inquiries or requests promptly and do not miss any deadlines. IRCC will often require that applicants provide new forms and documents within seven days of a request. If the documents are not received within the seven days, the missed deadline can derail the application process.
Problems with Your Documents
The information on the application and in your documents must correspond with your current details. Notify the IRCC of any changes to the personal information on your application, such as changes to your, name, contact information, and/or family situation.
If some of the documents are in another language, include copies of the originals as well as certified English or French translations of any original documents that you submit in your foreign language.
The most important way to ensure your application is reviewed in a timely manner is to submit the correct documents the first time you apply. The Express Entry portal does not currently allow you to view documents you’ve already uploaded, so it’s critical that you upload the right PDF documents.
A best practice for applying to IRCC is to create a separate folder on your computer or device for each document, clearly labelled with a name that corresponds with each document you need to upload, as specified on the Express Entry checklist in your application kit. Inside each folder will be only the one document. Carefully double or triple-check that the document in each folder is the correct one. Verify that any scans or photocopies of documents you submit are sharp and legible. After you upload each document, back out of that folder and mark it with either a “√” or colour. Then move on to the next folder and repeat the upload process.
Submit every document requested. Do not take the advice of anonymous members of immigration forums, where someone said that they didn’t upload a particular document and their application was approved anyway. Gathering all the correct information for your application can be a tedious process, but it is required before you can even submit your application. Consider having an immigration attorney ensure that each of the documents is the right one and has been properly prepared, to ensure there is no delay in your express entry.
Is There Any Recourse if a Decision in Your Case is Long Overdue?
As Canada recovers from the pandemic backlog, it will be harder for the government to blame processing delays on Covid. If you submitted your application some time ago, and it’s taken a lot longer than the estimated processing time, an experienced immigration lawyer can file a mandamus application. A mandamus appeal is made to the Federal Court, asking the court to order the immigration authority to make a decision on your case. You must have already made a demand to the immigration authorities to complete the process, and it must be demonstrated that there has been an unreasonable delay in your case when compared with average processing times.
Seeking professional advice is your decision. Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, the Honourable Sean Fraser, advised on March 1, 2022, “For many prospective immigrants, getting help from a professional consultant or lawyer is an understandable decision, meant to offer support throughout the process. Canada’s immigration system can be complex, and navigating it alone can be daunting… No matter what path you choose, keep yourself informed. All necessary application documents can be found on the IRCC website.”