Living in Canada

How Long Does It Take IRCC to Review My Eligibility?

Discover the typical processing times for IRCC to review various application types.

The processing time for Canadian visas varies throughout the year. The variation in time depends on various factors and the most recent data from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).

Equip yourself with crucial insights into IRCC review times by reading this article because it provides a complete rundown of the visa application process and all of its components. In this guide, we’ll share everything you need to know about the following immigration concerns and topics:

  • Advantages of pursuing education in Canada 
  • Overview of IRCC
  • What affects the review time
  • Understanding the application review process
  • The main reasons an application is classified as ‘Review Required’
  • Ways to address the ‘Review Required’ status

Let’s get into it!

Benefits of Studying in Canadian Cities

In recent times, Canada has proved a symbol of progression and cohesion. Canada is rich in culture and history and is a hot spot for tourism. Canada boasts the resources capable of providing quality transport infrastructure to its residents and aid in emergencies. Moreover, the Canadian government offers citizen-focused schemes to resolve problems, such as a Veterans Service Card. 

As one of the most developed countries in the globe, the government of Canada can provide citizens with world-class education. From Quebec to British Columbia, Canada has a plethora of world-class institutions to study at. From finance to science, many of Canada’s tertiary institutions are leading facilities for innovation.

Based on our rigorous examination, some of the most common reasons why many foreign nationals and international students choose Canada are: 

  • Multiculturalism and progressiveness as a nation
  • Quality and affordability of education
  • High standard of living
  • Work-life balance for students
  • Safe environment
  • Clear pathways for immigration after graduation
  • Plenty of job opportunities

What is Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC)?

IRCC stands for Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada and was previously known as CIC or Citizenship and Immigration Canada. IRCC is essentially in charge of immigration programs and facilitating processes for new immigrants. 

This department is responsible for all matters and concerns related to immigration in the country. For example, visitor visas, study permits and student direct stream, work permits, jobs immigration, and workplace immigration. More information about IRCC and content and articles about immigration can be found on the canada.ca immigration website.

Role and Responsibilities of IRCC in Immigration

IRCC was established to design and deliver various services and programs. These offerings include permanent residence, temporary residence, settlement, citizenship, refugee protection, and passports.

Factors Affecting the Review Time

Based on our observations, the significant factors that can impact the visa process and review time for eligibility include:

Volume of Applications

The number of applications pending review at the Resettlement Operations Centre in Ottawa (ROC-O) or the visa office affects processing time. The immigration department may often deal with backlogs in applications.

Complexity of Individual Cases

Sometimes, the specifics of an individual’s application may affect the review time. Circumstances such as marriage, birth, death, or divorce are changes that can prolong the review process. 

External Factors (e.g., global events, policy changes)

External events or situations that cannot be anticipated or controlled can influence application review times. Changes in political leadership, a global pandemic, travel bans, or national defence concerns are a few examples of these scenarios.

How the Application Review Process Works

All the applications are processed under ministerial instructions and the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. The review process for these applications will go through specific stages outlined below: 

How Express Entry Works

Express Entry is the country’s flagship application management system for specific economic immigration categories. The system manages applications for permanent residence through two steps. 

First, individuals can complete an online profile to express their interest in immigrating to Canada. The profile will be electronically screened to determine if you meet the eligibility requirements of three programs. These three courses are the Federal Skilled Trades Program, the Federal Skilled Worker Program, and the Canadian Experience Class (CEC).

Under these three systems, the selection criteria are objective. As a result, an immigration officer can often assess an applicant's qualifications based solely on the information and documents submitted. In such cases, interviews are generally waived.

Individuals eligible for at least one of the programs in the Express Entry pool will be assigned a Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) score. This score is based on language ability, education, and work experience.

Second, a Ministerial Instruction is published every few weeks, specifying the number of Invitations to Apply (ITA) for permanent residence. These invitations will be sent to candidates in the Express Entry pool on an indicated date. 

Some candidates will then receive an ITA in their email and MyCIC account. These candidates have 60 days to submit an online application to IRCC for permanent residence. 

The immigration officer must conclude that all conditions have been met and the applicant is not inadmissible. If these two boxes are ticked, the candidate has been approved for a permanent resident visa.

Completeness Check

The completeness check is the initial stage of the application review process. It is also called R10 or Section 10 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations. 

The processing office will determine whether all required documents are present or others are needed. This decision is based on the document checklist when the application is received. 

According to IRCC, the six-month processing period begins when an application meets the completeness check. Suppose there are delays, your application exceeds six months, and you have not received any updates. You can raise any concerns using the Case Specific Enquiry (CSE) Webform on this page.

Remember, filling out all mandatory fields on all documents and forms is essential. Pay any processing fees and your biometrics fee, and include clear scans of all documents. Some handy mobile applications can help transfer documents to your smartphone if you do not own a computer or laptop.

Review of Eligibility

This stage is also known as A11.2 or Section 11.2 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. Review of eligibility can be incredibly time-consuming since all the submitted documentation will be checked for relevance and validity. 

In the first phase, a case analyst or program assistant will flag an application with the message “Review Required.” An application is flagged if there are concerns with a document. 

An application may have met the eligibility criteria, but a particular document needs further review from a visa officer. In this case, the GCMS notes will indicate “ready to finalize” or “applicant has met the eligibility.” However, the final decision is entirely up to the immigration officer. This person has the power to override the decision of the program assistant or case analyst - determining approval or rejection.

Review of Medical Results

The passed medicals are usually valid until the final review step. In your MyCIC account, the review of medical results changes to the date when the medicals are passed (MEP). 

The date that the panel physician sends the results to IRCC is what matters. Not the date of the medical exam itself. 

There is one last catch before a visa officer can approve an application at the final stage. The medical results must be valid for at least six months until the applicant lands in Canada. Otherwise, IRCC can request another medical exam or extend the medicals at their discretion. 

Review of Additional Documents

Note that applicants will be contacted if extra documents are needed. IRCC can always request any information right up until an application is approved. However, most requests are typically sent out during the Eligibility Review step. 

Unless there’s a document request, your MyCIC account review of additional documents will display “We do not need any additional documents.” 

If you are between 14 and 79, you must provide your biometrics for every permanent residency application you submit. This is the case even if you gave them in the past, and they are still valid. Biometrics have to be completed before an application can be approved. 

However, biometrics will only be required once IRCC asks for it if the applicant is already in Canada.   

Background Check

A background check (BGC) verifies applicants' security or criminal background to ensure they are admissible to Canada. Federal bodies such as the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) and Canadian Security Intelligence Services (CSIS) provide security advice to IRCC. This advice helps IRCC determine if applicants are a threat to national security. 

Ultimately, IRCC will decide on an application. They independently review background check assessments before an application can be approved. Examinations such as criminality checks, information sharing, and security screening can explain why some applications might be delayed. 

Final Decision

Applications are finalized once security results have arrived and are clear during the final review. Approved applicants will receive a Passport Request Form (PPR). If the GCMS indicates that your application has been approved, it will show that all stages have been passed. 

Applicants have 30 days to submit their passports, but an extension can be requested.

The Top Three Reasons Your Immigration File is Stuck in IRCC's ‘Review Required'

Drawing from our experience, here are three major reasons why application files get stuck under ‘Review Required’ by the IRCC: 

Reason 1: Proof of Funds

IRCC visa officers may flag an application for review due to concern over proof of funds. A fluctuation in currency exchange rates may lead to a drop in the value of an applicant’s money. The application will be flagged if the value falls below the required Canadian dollar threshold.

Remember that failing to meet the proof of funds requirements at the beginning will instantly result in rejection. There is no chance or notice to respond to this rejection.

Reason 2: Employment Records

If concerned about employment records, visa officers can also flag an application for review. There may be discrepancies between the employment confirmation documents, or the specified work experience cannot be validated.

Typically, employment records can include a few different documents. These can include an offer of employment from an employer, a contract, reference letters, pay stubs, or an employee list. Applicants can address this issue pre-emptively by providing further supporting documents, such as a declaration that explains a potential issue.

Reason 3: Inadmissibility Issues

Applicants can be deemed inadmissible to Canada for reasons such as criminality, health issues, or misrepresentation in their documentation. IRCC visa officials will generally require a review if an individual has been previously refused entry to Canada or elsewhere. So, it's crucial to disclose any previous immigration issues or visa refusals.

How to Address and Resolve 'Review Required' Status

From our first-hand examination, we highly recommend that applicants flagged with a “Review Required” proactively contact IRCC using the help center contact. This is the best procedure to resolve the issue rather than waiting for them to reply. Skip the wait period and speak to IRCC directly.

The information you need to send will depend on the category of assessment with the review requirement flag. Again, proactively contact IRCC to go over the details. If you think there has been some type of mistake, you can report the issue.

Seeking Legal Advice and Assistance [with BorderPass]

If you are concerned or dealing with your visa application status, you can get immediate assistance by contacting the BorderPass team. As a reliable online platform, BorderPass ensures transparency, expertise, affordability, and a future-based approach to all your immigration concerns.

Key Takeaways

The processing time for Canadian visas varies throughout the year. Per our expertise, the standard timeline for visa applications for 80% of cases is six months. This period is measured starting from the receipt of a complete application until an immigration officer sets a final decision.

Drawing from our experience, here are three major reasons why application files get stuck under ‘Review Required’ by the IRCC. These are proof of funds, employment records, and inadmissibility issues. We highly recommend that applicants flagged with a “Review Required” proactively contact IRCC using the help center contact.

Immediate assistance with visa application troubles can also be sought by contacting the BorderPass team.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Are Processing Times Calculated?

The processing times for visa applications are measured on a historical basis. This measure is taken from how long it took to process 80% of applications in the past.

How Can I Improve the Chances of a Faster Review? [use BorderPass]

Contact BorderPass today to ensure your application gets a faster review time. BorderPass guides you through each step of the immigration process. Moreover, BorderPass has a success rate of over 90% for visa applications.

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