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Canada Immigration Backlog Still Growing

Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) reports that the Canada’s immigration backlog grows to 1.84 million as at mid-March.

This means that about 1.84 million people are still waiting on decisions in the Canada immigration inventory.

This report was provided in its latest inventory data and the inventory consists of applications submitted by future Canadian citizens, permanent residents, international students, visitors and temporary workers.

The information below shows how the backlog has progressed since summer:

  • July 6, 2021: 1,447,474 persons
  • October 27, 2021: 1,792,404 persons
  • December 15, 2021: 1,813,144 persons
  • February 1, 2022: 1,815,628 persons
  • March 15 and 17 2022: 1,844,424 persons

Explanation on data

The data represents the number of persons that are currently waiting for the processing of immigration application by IRCC.

Permanent residence inventory data is from March 15 while the temporary residence inventory data is from March 17. This difference was because the “visitor record” was missing when IRCC provided the March 15 temporary residence data initially.

Since IRCC doesn’t keep snapshots of their inventory except when requested, verifying the March 15 visitor record data was not possible.

The comparison data from February 1 matches what IRCC provided at that time. In some cases, marked “N/A,” IRCC did not offer the information.

So where has IRCC made progress since last month?

IRCC has made progress in the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP) and Canadian Experience Class (CEC) applications. About 10,400 CEC candidates are left to be processed and so there is hope that the backlog might all be processed by the spring.

Also, greater progress was made in FSWP applications as IRCC processed more FSWP applications in two weeks than it did over a seven-month period in 2021.

IRCC processed about 4,000 FSWP candidates between February 28 to March 15. At this current rate, the department could also process the entire FSWP backlog in the second half of this year.

Express Entry inventory

Immigration categoryPersons as of March 15Persons as of February 1Difference
Federal Skilled Worker Program (EE)41,33649,751-8,415
Canadian Experience Class (EE)10,38815,139-4,751
Provincial/Territorial Nominees (EE)36,590 (EE) + 34,621 (No EE)68,682 (EE + No EE)+2,529
Federal Skilled Trades Program (EE)589805-216

There has also been some progress in the family class inventory in the Parents and Grandparents Program (PGP) and also the humanitarian and compassionate category. Although there were some growth in the spouses, partners, children and other categories, Immigration Minister Sean Fraser has said that processing standards for new applications are back to the 12-month standard.

The government offers a tool for spousal sponsorship applications to monitor their application status.

Family Class inventory

Immigration categoryPersons as of March 15Persons as of February 1Difference
FCH-Family relations – H&C3,3203,350-30
Parents and Grandparents35,32436,046-722
Spouses, partners, children, other family55,301 (spouses) + 9,166 (children and other)62,826+1,641
Total Family Class103,112102,222+890

Where did the backlog grow since February?

The citizenship inventory is 453,265 as at the end of February 2022 and this figure includes all prospective, mailroom estimates and unopened electronic applications.

The immigration department as at December 31, 2021 reported that the backlog for citizenship applicants was standing at 448,000 and there were about 5,000 more citizenship applications in the inventory at the end of February, 2022.

The Temporary Residence to Permanent Residence (TR2PR) pathway also saw an increase of about 5,400 applicants and even though IRCC received all applications for the program between May 6 to November 5, 2021, an IRCC spokesperson said that the applications were saved in a cloud environment and not yet considered part of the inventory.

The applications were then transferred to the Global Case Management System and counted in the inventory. IRCC received about 91,000 applications in total for the TR2PR program. About 35,341 persons were reported in the inventory as of March 15.

Some other permanent residency program inventories that saw significant increases include the paper-based Provincial Nominee Program (PNP), the Caring for Children Program and the Quebec Skilled Worker Program.

Permanent residence inventory

Immigration categoryPersons as of March 15Persons as of February 1Difference
Economic Class230,767230,573+194
Family Class103,112102,222+890
Humanitarian and Compassionate/Public Policy27,21827,436-218
Permit Holders Class1821-3
Protected Persons157,552158,778-1,226

Economic class inventory

Immigration categoryPersons as of March 15Persons as of February 28Persons as of February 1Difference from earliest available date
Agri-Food Pilot Program649653N/A-4
Atlantic Immigration Pilot Programs2,6722,577N/A+95
Canadian Experience Class (EE)10,38812,08815,139-4,751
Canadian Experience Class (No EE)10784N/A+23
Caring For Children Program17,58516,31616,085+1,500
Federal Self Employed5,2635,1815,396-133
Federal Skilled Workers (C-50)190197N/A-7
Federal Skilled Workers (EE)41,33645,43749,751-8,415
Federal Skilled Workers (Pre C-50)2323N/A0
High Medical Needs Program1615N/a+1
Live-in Caregiver Program1,2681,328N/A-60
Provincial/Territorial Nominees (EE)36,59037,48468,682 (EE + No EE)-894
Provincial/Territorial Nominees (No EE)34,62132,106N/A+2,515
Quebec Entrepreneur408416N/A-8
Quebec Investor14,30913,84514,117+464
Quebec Self Employed12189N/A+32
Quebec Skilled Workers26,99726,21725,263+1,734
Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot870897N/A-27
Skilled Trades (EE)589632723-134
Skilled Trades (No EE)33N/A0
Start-up Business1,4211,295N/A+126
TR to PR35,34134,30429,864+5,477
Ministerial Instruction Economic ProgramsN/AN/A5,553N/A
Total Economic Class230,767231,187230,573+194

The temporary residence applications also saw increases. The Work permits saw the largest increase of about 14,700 between February 1 and March 17. Extensions for both work and study permits and also visitor record had their increases.

Temporary Residence inventory

TR categoryPersons as of Mar. 17Persons as of Feb. 1Difference
Study Permit111,192112,185-993
Study Permit Extension30,53326,479+4,054
Temporary Resident Visa419,243420,097-854
Visitor Record68,52865,093+3,435
Work Permit100,20585,526+14,679
Work Permit Extension142,791139,218+3,573

IRCC stopped holding Express Entry draws for CEC candidates since September 2021 and for the FSWP candidates, it was since December 2020. This was because it wanted to clear the large inventory of applications that caused processing times to increase.

With the pause of the Express Entry draws for these programs, no new applications came in for them and this allowed officers to process the backlog.

However, immigration department has been holding PNP draws every two weeks.

With the figures and records of IRCC concerning the FSWP and CEC backlogs, it suggests that the Express Entry draws for the programs will resume in 2022 and everything will come back to normal including the six-month processing standard.

Canada allocated $85 million to reduce processing times across all IRCC lines of business in the 2021 Budget and the Minister Sean Fraser said that the budget will allow Canada to return to processing service standards for study permits, work permits, and permanent residence card renewals by the end of the year.

The temporary reduction in Express Entry admissions is to enable IRCC process the TR2PR program

Immigration Levels Plan 2022-2024

In February 2022, IRCC released the Immigration Levels Plan 2022-2024 and the government plans to admit record numbers of new immigrants every year for the next three years although the Express Entry targets are significantly reduced for 2022 and 2023 and will return to over 110,000 immigrants in 2024.

In a bid to provide support for Ukrainians that are fleeing Ukraine as a result of the Russian invasion, Canada has introduced the Canada-Ukraine Authorization for Emergency Travel (CUAET) which is an accelerated temporary residence pathway for Ukrainians.

IRCC has said that these special measures for Ukrainians will not affect the processing of refugee applications.

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