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Immigration backlog from Canada remains at 2.6 million people


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

Inventory across all business lines has progressed as follows since July 2021:

  • September 30, 2022: 2,600,000 people (figure rounded by IRCC)
  • August 31, 2022: 2,583,827 people
  • July 15-17, 2022: 2,679,031 people
  • June 1 to 6, 2022: 2,387,884 people
  • April 30 to May 2, 2022: 2,130,385 people
  • April 11 and 12, 2022: 2,031,589 people
  • March 15 and 17, 2022: 1,844,424 people
  • February 1, 2022: 1,815,628 people
  • December 15, 2021: 1,813,144 people
  • October 27, 2021: 1,792,404 people
  • July 6, 2021: 1,447,474 people

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Current Application Inventories

The website divides the applications into applications for permanent residence, temporary residence, and citizenship. Of these, IRCC reports that they have processed 1.11 million, requests within service standards, or less than 50%.

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

service standards

A service standard is the internal benchmark that IRCC sets for processing requests for each line of business. In other words, it is the goal that IRCC sets for processing the average application for a given immigration program.

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

The application for permanent residence through the Express Entry programs has a standard of six months. It is longer for other economy class lines of business. IRCC states that your service standard for the Spouse and Child Family Class sponsorship is 12 months.

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

Citizenship applications carry a standard 12-month service, with an additional four months between the approval of an application and the scheduling of a citizenship ceremony.

The order book decreases for two lines of business

The current total number of applications has not changed significantly since the last IRCC update in September. However, the distribution of backlogs has changed by line of business.

There has been a large increase in applications for permanent residence, while applications for citizenship and temporary residence have seen a decline. This comes as the program-wide Express Entry draws resumed on July 6 and the IRCC invited 1,500 candidates to apply for PR. Each draw since then has seen IRCC invite an increasing number of candidates, until the most recent draw in which 4,250 candidates received an ITA.

The numbers in the inventory are as follows:

  • The citizenship inventory amounts to 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 people on August 31.

Therefore, there have been reductions in two of the three main categories of immigration, with an increase in applications for permanent residence of some 100,677 people.

When will the delays decrease?

The IRCC website also contains forecasts of what the backlog is expected to look like in the coming months. For example, the website projects that highly ranked federal applications for permanent residence, as well as applications through the Provincial Nominee Program, will have only a 20% delay by December 2022. Applications for PR by family members, spouses, and sons (except Quebec) will have a backlog of 19%.

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

Temporary residence permits have different projections depending on the type of visa and have projections until March 2023

  • Temporary Resident (visitor) visas will have a delay of 58%.
  • Study permits will have a 23% default and;
  • Work permits have a projected accrual of 30% by March 2023. IRCC expects the accrual to rise to 60% in December 2022 before falling again.

IRCC steps to improve

IRCC has acknowledged the delay and says it is taking steps to improve the speed at which applications are processed. In June, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau created a task force to assess the current backlog of services and make suggestions for near- and long-term improvements. To that end, on September 1, Immigration Minister Sean Fraser announced several updates to the system.

IRCC began the transition to 100% digital applications for most permanent resident programs on September 23, with accommodations for those unable to apply online. This transition also includes citizenship applications, which are now 100% online for all applicants 18 and older. IRCC aims to make all citizenship applications digital by the end of this year, including those under 18 years of age.

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

Find out if you are eligible for Canadian immigration

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