Canada’s immigration backlog

The backlog has grown by nearly 300,000 people since June.
Canada continues to struggle with its immigration applications as its inventory now stands at some 2.7 million people.

This represents a growth of nearly 300,000 people over the past six weeks.

The backlog has nearly doubled over the past year and nearly tripled since the start of the pandemic.

It has progressed as follows since last July:

  • July 15-17, 2022: 2,679,031 persons
  • June 1-6, 2022: 2,387,884 persons
  • April 30-May 2, 2022: 2,130,385 persons
  • April 11-12, 2022: 2,031,589 persons
  • March 15 and 17, 2022: 1,844,424 persons
  • February 1, 2022: 1,815,628 persons
  • December 15, 2021: 1,813,144 persons
  • October 27, 2021: 1,792,404 persons
  • July 6, 2021: 1,447,474 persons

IRCC-Inventory-July-2022-1

The citizenship inventory stands at 444,792 applicants as of July 15, compared to 394,664 on June 1.

The permanent residence inventory stands at 514,116 people as of July 17, compared to 522,047 as of June 6.

On July 17, the temporary residence inventory stood at 1,720,123 people, compared to 1,471,173 persons, also as of June 6.

CIC News made this data request to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) on June 30 and received the data on July 18.

Express Entry draws resume due to backlog reduction
A total of 51,616 Express Entry applicants are waiting on decisions as of July 17, a significant reduction from the 88,903 reported when comparable was available on March 15.

The reduction in Express Entry backlogs means IRCC can once again hold all program draws, and processing times for new Express Entry applicants are back to the six-month standard. On July 6, IRCC held its first all-program draw since December 2020.

Family class inventory is up slightly
The overall inventory of family class applicants is up to 118,251 persons compared to 112,837 persons on June 6.

The Spouses, Partners and Children Program inventory has increased compared to early June. It stands at 68,159 persons compared to 67,929 persons last month. The figure for July was found by adding Spouses and Partners to Children and Other Family Class for the purpose of comparison.

The Parents and Grandparents Program (PGP) has seen another increase. It is now at 47,025 persons compared to 41,802 persons. IRCC has yet to announce details on its plans for the PGP 2022.

Summer backlog growth is normal, to an extent
The temporary residence inventory has increased by nearly 250,000 persons compared to June 6.

Increases were observed in the number of applicants for study permits, temporary resident visas, visitor records, work permits, and work permit extensions.

The growth of IRCC’s backlog is normal to an extent over the summer months. More people look to obtain temporary resident visas to visit family and friends during the warmest time of the year in Canada.

In addition, many international students who complete their studies in the spring go on to apply for Post-Graduation Work Permits (PGWP), which is Canada’s largest work permit category.

Most international students also submit their study permit applications in the months leading up to the start of Canada’s academic calendar. This results in Canada usually welcoming over 200,000 new international students leading into September each year.

The main exception is the Canada-Ukraine Authorization for Emergency Travel (CUAET), which Canada introduced in March to provide Ukrainians with the opportunity to relocate following Russia’s invasion. Since March 17, IRCC has received 362,664 CUAET applications, causing its backlog to swell.

However, the overall growth of the backlog, a nearly three-fold increase since the start of the pandemic in March 2020, highlights ongoing challenges with Canada’s immigration system. It is a function of IRCC continuing to welcome new applications throughout the pandemic even though its processing capacity was limited for large stretches of 2020 and 2021.

The department is now playing catch-up and is taking steps such as hiring additional processing staff and looking to invest in technological upgrades.

Meanwhile, other arms of the federal government have taken notice of Canada’s immigration application challenges.

In May, the Canadian Parliament’s Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration (CIMM) began a study on the backlogs. It will result in a public study containing recommendations for improvement.

In June, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau created a federal task force to address backlog challenges. It is made up of a group of federal ministers, who will make recommendations to address issues that are causing the delay in application processing. The goal is to create both long-term and short-term solutions that will clear the backlogs and improve the quality and speed of services.

Inventory in tables
The following tables show more details on IRCC’s inventory.
IRCC’s inventory

Family Class Inventory

Total Economic Class

Protected Persons Inventory

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