New report: Express Entry processing times increase to 8 months, on average

Express Entry

Check out our complete overview of the official 2019 Express Entry Report here.

A new Canadian immigration report has confirmed that the average processing time for applications submitted through the Express Entry system in 2019 was eight months.

The report, released by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) in June, 2020, showed that the average processing time for Express Entry increased by three months from five to eight months between 2018 and 2019:

Processing time (in months) for applications submitted through Express Entry programs

Express Entry Program 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019
Canadian Experience Class 3 6 4 5 7
Federal Skilled Worker 5 6 4 6 9
Provincial/Territorial Nominees 4 5 6 6 9
Federal Skilled Trades 5 6 6 7 12
For all programs 4 6 5 5 8
Processing times refer to the time in which 80% of applications were finalized by IRCC.

When Express Entry was introduced in 2015, the system was intended to enable faster processing of immigration applications. IRCC aimed to process 80 percent of all Express Entry immigration applications in six months or less. The 2019 report represents the first year that IRCC has failed to meet their six-month objective.

Express Entry remains the Canadian immigration pathway with the fastest average processing times for permanent residence applications. For example, provincial nominees applying through an Express Entry-aligned stream have their permanent residence applications processed in an average of nine months. Meanwhile, provincial nominees applying through regular streams (not aligned with Express Entry) have to wait an average of 15 to 19 months for their permanent residence applications to be processed.

Understanding the application timeline for Express Entry

Notably, the time it takes for IRCC to process a permanent residence application is only one part of the Express Entry process. So, you should anticipate that the entire process will be longer than the average processing time listed above for the permanent residence application.

Generally, there are four major parts to the Express Entry immigration process:

Step 1 – Create your Express Entry profile

In order to be considered for Express Entry, you first have to create your Express Entry profile. This will take some time, as you will require certain documents in order to create your profile. Specifically, all candidates need to submit official language test results in either English or French, plus proof of education. If you completed your education in a country other than Canada, you’ll also have to get an Educational Credentials Assessment (ECA) before you can create your Express Entry profile.

Step 2 – Receive an Invitation to Apply (ITA)

Once you create your Express Entry profile, if you’re eligible, you will receive confirmation you’ve been entered into the pool, plus your Comprehensive Ranking System score (CRS score). The CRS score is used to rank candidates in the pool against one another. If you have a competitive CRS score, you may only have to wait a week or two to receive your Invitation to Apply (ITA). However, if your CRS score is not competitive enough, you may have to wait for the CRS score cut-off to drop, or try to find ways to increase your CRS score.

In some cases, candidates do not receive an ITA and their Express Entry profile expires after 12 months. If you’re worried about the competitiveness of your CRS score, don’t fret, check out some of these other options for making the move to Canada.

Step 3 – Submit your electronic Application for Permanent Residence (eAPR)

If you receive an Invitation to Apply, you will usually have 60 days to submit your application for permanent residence (notably, during the COVID-19 crisis, ITA recipients are being given 90 days). This application requires extensive personal information and documentation to support the claims you made in your Express Entry profile. This application requires a significant investment of time, so be sure that you’ve prepared in advance if you expect to receive an ITA.

It is only once this application is submitted that the clock starts on the IRCC average processing time for Express Entry that was outlined above. As you can see, there are many components to the application prior to this processing period.

Step 4 – Receive your Confirmation of Permanent Residence (CoPR)

If your application is approved, you will receive your confirmation of permanent residence, along with instructions for how to activate your permanent resident status in Canada.

While the average processing times listed by IRCC are a useful way of setting some expectations for the process, please be sure to take into account the full Express Entry process when planning your journey.

As well, remember that these processing times are averages. In some cases, an application could be delayed while an immigration officer completes a security check or requests additional information about medical conditions. On the other end of the spectrum, there are cases where applications are processed in a matter of weeks.

If you want to ensure the best chance of having your application approved the first time, we recommend completing an Express Entry application review with one of our recommended Canadian immigration consultants

See  our other summaries from the 2019 Express Entry Year-End Report, including:

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