The time it takes to prepare, submit and obtain approval of a private sponsorship application is the most difficult part of managing the expectations of refugees waiting to come to Canada.
In 2017-18, sponsorship applications generally took 18 to 36 months from start to finish, depending on the Canadian visa office involved. The pandemic has significantly increased these waiting times to 25 to 42 months and even longer in some parts of the world.
Why are the applications delayed?
- The applications themselves are complex and not user-friendly. It typically take 4 to 6 weeks to prepare an application.
- We must have all funds in place or firmly pledged to submit an application.
- The government limits the number of applications that a Sponsorship Agreement Holder can submit each year. Applications can wait at the Sponsorship Agreement Holder for 10 to 14 months before they can be submitted to the government.
- Once the application is submitted, there are 2 levels of approval: one to approve the sponsors’ application; and a second to approve the refugee application. At both levels, the government limits the volume of applications it will process in order to control refugee levels overall and to manage the flow of refugees through the Canadian Visa Offices abroad.
- The pandemic suspended refugee travel and the processing of applications for 6 months in 2020. Capacity at visa centres in Canadian embassies abroad was generally not restored until 2021.
- Processing times remain significantly delayed due to the backlogs created during these suspensions.
- First-level approval (sponsorship approval), which took 4 to 6 weeks in 2019, takes 6 to 12 weeks at the start of 2022.
- IRCC stopped submission of sponsorship applications by Sponsorship Agreement Holders, including Afghan sponsorships, from February 2022 through April 2022.
- As of July 8, 2022, IRCC had not issued any space allocations for sponsorship applications for 2022.
- Refugee approvals at Canadian embassies currently take from 22 to 42 months.