Immigration applications through Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) can move very slowly depending on the processing office, the type of application and the representative. We deal with all types of applications on a daily basis to make sure our clients receive a decision as quickly as possible. The most common reason for delay is that applications are sent to the Visa Office that are incomplete. Incomplete applications will not be processed and all the documents will be returned.
After an application has been compiled, organized and properly submitted, it can be frustrating to wait while CIC processes the documents. Clients, of course, are anxious to have their applications processed. There are different ways for applicants and representatives to check the application status online:
CIC’s Online Service
Applicants can check the status of their applications online using the service provided by Citizenship and Immigration Canada. Applicants can select their application, a Work Permit for example, type in their particulars and they can see whether the ap plication is in process.
Typically, we get mixed reviews from the Online Service. If an Applicant has multiple applications, the website does not clearly identify the different applications. In addition, the website provides scant detail on the progress of the application. We have had issues where a Visa Officer has sent out a letter requesting additional documentation (or, for example, updated medicals) but the Applicant failed to receive the letter. They checked online and there is no information about the Officer’s request.
CIC’s Online service is useful to confirm that the application was properly submitted and that it is in process. After that, it provides very little benefit.
CIC’s Portal for Authorized Paid Representatives
When a lawyer prepares the application and submits the documents through the CIC Portal, the lawyer can check the status online. It provides much more information that the Online Service above. The lawyer is able to see all the documents that have been submitted and each step along the process is checked.
This is a valuable service for clients and lawyers alike.
Average Processing Times
CIC publishes the average processing times online, generally on a quarterly basis. We encourage clients to take this “average” with a grain of salt. For example, the current average processing time for an Application for Permanent Residency based on Humanitarian and Compassionate Considerations (H&C) is 30 to 42 months. There are many H&C applications currently in process.
In our office, we assisted a single mother and her two children with an H&C application after their case made the news. We helped them file the H&C application and we were successful. They are now all Permanent Residents of Canada. The Winnipeg Free Press also covered the story after we were successful. This H&C application took approximately 14 months to process, much faster than the posted average processing times.
In another case, we assisted another family in Winnipeg with an H&C application and it was approved in less than 12 months. That said, we have contacted other immigration lawyers in Canada and we have been advised that there are currently some H&C applications that have been pending for more than 60 months.
What Can You Do After You Check Application Status?
CIC Officers and Visa Officers are individuals. They work hard and there are internal priorities within the Visa Offices. That said, after you check application status, you can contact your lawyer and ask him or her on ways to speed things up. It may be possible to work with the Officer and request expedited processing, depending on the circumstances.
If your application has been in limbo for a long time, ask your lawyer about filing a Mandamus Application with Federal Court. They have the power to ensure the CIC Officer or the Visa Officer makes a decision in a timely manner.