How long is the processing time for spousal sponsorship?
For most applicants, the full spousal sponsorship process takes 10-12 months, which is in line with Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship's (IRCC) stated service standard. Processing time varies widely, however, due to the type of application, the visa office processing it, and individual factors of the application. Processing times can range from as little as 6 months up to 24 months.
We are proud to have achieved an average processing time of under 8 months for our own clients over the course of 2023.
Are IRCC processing times accurate?
IRCC’s “check processing times” tool provides data on processing times that is broken down by application type. These processing times are based on historical data. According to IRCC, they represent how long it took to process 80% of applications in the recent past. Therefore, while the tool provides insight into historical trends, it is not necessarily a predictor of the processing time for an upcoming application. Furthermore, for spousal sponsorships the data provided is global, rather than broken down by the visa office, meaning it does not factor in backlogs that exist from time to time in particular countries.
In our experience, processing time varies widely from application to application and IRCC’s tool cannot be relied upon to predict an outcome. Nonetheless, in combination with data from other sources such as our own current applications, and other news sources, it can help to form a general picture of what to expect.
What is the processing time for each stage of spousal sponsorship?
Based on our own data from hundreds of recent applications in 2023, here are typical processing times for each stage of a spousal sponsorship:
AOR (Acknowledgment of Receipt) of application: 1-3 months following submission
Sponsor Approval: 0-4 weeks following AOR
Biometrics and Medical Requests: 0-8 weeks following AOR
Passport request (approval in principle): 2-9 months following AOR
What are the factors that influence Spousal Sponsorship processing times?
There are several factors that can influence the processing time of a particular spousal sponsorship application, including:
The Visa Office
Spousal sponsorship applications processed under the outland stream are processed by the visa office responsible for the sponsored person’s country of residence. Therefore, processing times will depend on local conditions and the caseload of that particular office.
If IRCC has a concern about an aspect of the application, they may send a request for additional documentation or information. This can lead to processing delays, especially if you take time to adequately respond to the concern.
In some cases, if IRCC has any concerns or would like further clarifications, they could request an interview of the sponsored person, the sponsor, or both. The waiting period for an available interview time could extend the processing time for the application
Quebec has a parallel immigration system alongside Canada’s, and sponsored people destined for the province are required to get a CAQ (Québec Acceptance Certificate) prior to being approved by IRCC. CAQ processing time can be slow, and this will delay a spousal sponsorship application.
How can I speed up the processing time of my application?
While it is important to know that you can not directly influence the processing time or expedite an application, there are certain things you can do to avoid unnecessary delays. These include:
Pay All Fees
Applicants for spousal sponsorship have the option to pay their Right to Permanent Residence Fee (RPRF) up front or at the later stages of processing. To speed up processing after the application is approved, pay the RPRF along with the other government fees with the initial application submission.
Use Email with IRCC
Email is preferred by IRCC as the primary method of communication with applicants. Therefore opt for email instead of regular mail, to avoid delays due to slow communication.
After sending the request for biometrics and the medical exam, IRCC will place the application on hold until these items are completed. Other requests for information may put the application on hold until the officer receives an adequate response. Therefore to avoid delays in processing, take action immediately after receiving a request from IRCC.
Submit a Complete and Strong Application
Submit a complete and strong application which does not leave any room for doubt about eligibility of the sponsor and the applicant. This includes strong documentation proving a genuine relationship, to avoid any concern by IRCC that would lead to a request for further documentation or an interview.