What is the change? Foreign nationals applying to extend work, study and residence permits are facing significant processing delays at Canada’s central processing center in Vegreville, Alberta.

What does the change mean? Extension applications that took as few as nine days to process in November 2014 are now taking 115 days on average. The delays have wide-ranging consequences, including making it more difficult for foreign nationals whose applications are pending to leave the country.

  • Implementation time frame: Ongoing.
  • Visas/permits affected: Any extension application processed at Canada’s central processing center in Vegreville, including extensions of work permits, study permits, temporary resident status and temporary resident permits.
  • Who is affected: Foreign nationals applying for any type of extension application processed in Vegreville.
  • Impact on processing times: Processing times in some instances have increased by more than 100 days.
  • Business impact: In most cases, foreign nationals with pending applications are able to continue working, as long as they filed their extension application before their initial permit expired. Those with “implied status” based on a pending application, however, may face difficulty if they try to travel abroad.
  • Next steps: BAL will continue to monitor processing times and update clients on developments.

Background: While processing commonly slows during the summer, the current delays far exceed normal seasonal fluctuations. In many cases, foreign nationals’ social insurance and health card numbers have expired while they await approval of their extension applications. While most applicants can continue working while awaiting a decision, those who wish to travel abroad should make sure they will be able to re-enter Canada before doing so.

BAL Analysis: Processing times may improve as fall approaches, but it could take months before normal processing times return. These delays make it all the more important for foreign nationals to apply for extensions well in advance of the expiration date on their existing permit. Those with pending applications should check with their BAL attorney before traveling abroad to avoid being denied re-entry.

This alert has been provided by the BAL Global Practice group and our network provider located in Canada. For additional information, please contact your BAL attorney.

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