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Canada’s immigration backlog remains at 2.6 million people

Canada’s immigration backlog remains at 2.6 million people thumbnail

Published on October 15th, 2022 at 07: 35am EDT

IRCC's backlog of applications is holding steady at 2.6 million

Canada’s immigration backlog remains at 2.6 million people according to new Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) data. IRCC released updated data, which is current as of September 30, on its website on October 14.

The inventory across all lines of business has progressed as follows since July 2021:

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Current inventories of applications

The website breaks the applications down into permanent residence, temporary residence and citizenship applications. Of these, IRCC is reporting that they have processed 1.11 million, applications within service standards, or less than 50%.

There are still 1.49 million applications that are considered not within service standards. To break it down further, a total of 46% of temporary residence applications , 47% permanent resident and 69% of citizenship applications were within service standards.

Service standards

A service standard is the internal benchmark IRCC sets to process applications for each line of business. In other words, it is the goal IRCC establishes to process the average application for a given immigration program.

Service standards differ from the actual average length of time it takes IRCC to process applications for each program. Earlier this year, IRCC announced it would provide regular updates on its website with average processing times in order to provide applicants with more transparency.

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Permanent residence application through Express Entry programs have a standard of six months. It is longer for other economic class lines of business. IRCC states its service standard for spousal and child family class sponsorship is 12 months.

Temporary residence applications have service standards that range between 60-120 days depending on the type of application (work or study) and if it was submitted within Canada or from abroad.

Citizenship applications carry a service standard of 12 months, with an additional four months between the approval of an application and being scheduled for a citizenship ceremony.

Backlog decreases for two lines of business

The total current number of applications has not changed significantly from the last IRCC update in September. However, the distribution of backlogged applications has shifted depending on the line of business.

There has been a large jump in applications for permanent residence while citizenship and temporary residence applications have both seen a decrease. This comes as all-program Express Entry draws resumed on July 6 and IRCC invited 1,500 candidates to apply for PR. Since then, each draw has seen IRCC invite a steadily increasing number of candidates, up to the most recent draw in which  4,250 candidates received an ITA.

The numbers in inventory are as follows:

  • The citizenship inventory stands at 352,000 applicants as of September 30, compared to 371,620 on August 31.
  • The permanent residence inventory stands at  614,600 people as of September 30, compared to 513,923 as of August 31.
  • Also on September 30, the temporary residence inventory stood at 1,644,100  people, compared to 1,698,284 persons as of August 31.
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Therefore, there have been reductions in two of the three major immigration categories, with permanent residence applications up by some 100,677 people.

When will the backlogs subside?

IRCC’s webpage also contains forecasts on what the backlog is expected to look like over the next several months. For example, the webpage projects that federal high skilled applications for permanent residence, as well as applications through the Provincial Nominee Program will have only a 20% backlog by December 2022. Family, spouses and children (except for Quebec) applications for PR will have a backlog of 19%.

Citizenship applications are expected to have a 25% backlog by December 2022.

Temporary Residence permits each have different projections depending on the type of visa and carry projections into March 2023

  • Temporary Resident (visitor) visas will have a 58% backlog.
  • Study permits will have a 23% backlog and;
  • Work permits have a projected backlog of 30% by March 2023. IRCC expects the backlog will actually increase to as high as 60% in December 2022 before dropping again.

IRCC’s steps to improve

IRCC has acknowledged the backlog and says it is taking steps to improve the speed at which applications are processed. In June, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau created a taskforce to evaluate the current backlog in services and make suggestions on short-term and long-term improvements. To that end, on September 1, Immigration Minister Sean Fraser announced several upgrades to the system.

IRCC began the transition towards 100% digital applications for most permanent resident programs on September 23, with accommodations made for those who are unable to apply online. This transition also includes citizenship applications, which are now 100% online for all applicants over the age of 18. IRCC is aiming to make all citizenships applications digital by the end of this year, including those for minors under 18.

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The department is also hiring 1,250 new staff by the end of autumn to increase processing capacity and says it is modernizing and streamlining the system.

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