What happens when my application is sent to the visa office?
The first communication from the visa office will be Acknowledgment of Receipt. You will receive a receipt for payment of the fees and a standard letter stating how long approximately processing of your application will take. You will be asked not to contact the visa office before the standard processing time elapses. You can get the letter in 4 weeks or 4 months - perhaps even later, in some instances. Acknowledgment of receipt does NOT mean that the application is complete and that there is nothing missing. It simply means that it was entered into the system.
At one point in the future, someone will again pick up your application and this time review its contents. If anything is missing, you will be asked to submit the documents within a specified time. If you fail to do so, your application may be refused at this point, without any further processing.
If everything is complete and no documents are missing, Canadian government starts to do security background check on you and your family. This may take several months or several years, depending on the country where you live and where you used to live. If it takes too long, you may be asked for an update of your documents so that the visa officer knows that you still qualify and that you did not abandon the application.
When the security background check is completed and all necessary documents and updated information is on file, the officer will decide whether you should attend a personal interview. If this is the case, you will be sent a written request to attend the interview at already specified day and hour. Failing to attend the interview may result in refusal of the application. If you cannot attend, you must notify the visa office in advance and request another appointment. Some offices will accommodate such a request, some will not.
Now you have been interviewed and approved. If the office is not experiencing backlog, you will be sent medical forms and asked to complete medical examination in a few weeks after the interview. Once the results of the examination and its evaluation by medical officer arrive to the visa office, you will be asked to pay the Right of Permanent Residence Fee (if you didn't pay it at the time of the submission).
And then you will receive the final letter - request to submit your passport. Only at this point you can rest assured that your application has been approved and that you will be issued immigrant visa.
How long will it take to process my application? (Timelines)
This is probably the most frequently asked question, mostly because there is no real answer. Every visa office has a different time frame. If you fill out and supply all of the forms correctly, you may be processed at some visa offices in as little as a few months. If the background check is an issue, it can take as long as a few years.
Every missing document in your application will delay the processing by several weeks, sometimes months. Copies that are hard to read will cause even more delay. It is not unheard of the whole application being returned because one! question was not answered. There is no really simple answer to this question! It is a question of how you file and where you file.
If your application is absolutely flawless and there is no hold-up, you can use the information on CIC website as a general rule of thumb. Keep in mind that the numbers on the website are reflecting
PAST processing times and often are not even close to the current processing times.