Canada’s Immigration Backlog Increases To 1.84 Million | BOOZYN

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Canada’s Immigration Backlog Increases To 1.84 Million

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) reported that a backlog of 1.84 million persons waiting on decisions in its inventory as of mid-March.

IRCC provided its latest inventory data through a media request and the inventory comprises of applications submitted by future Canadian citizens, permanent residents, international students, visitors and temporary workers.

This is 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
  • March 15 and 17 – 1,844,424 persons

The data represents the number of people currently awaiting decision on their application. The permanent residence inventory data is from March 15 and temporary residence inventory data is from March 17.

This difference is because when IRCC provided the March 15 temporary residence data initially, the “visitor record” data was missing. Since the immigration department does not keep snapshots of their inventory except when requested, it was not able to verify the March 15 visitor record data.

The March 17 temporary residence data was provided when requested and the comparison from February 1 matches what IRCC provided at that time. In some cases, marked “N/A” IRCC did not offer the information.


The Places IRCC Made Progress Since Last Month

There has been significant progress in the Canadian Experience Class (CEC) and Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP) applications. There are just 10,400 CEC persons left to be processed and with this, IRCC could finish up the backlog by this spring.

Also, there has been great improvement in the FSWP applications. In the last two weeks, IRCC has processed more FSWP applications than it did over a seven-month period in 2021.

The immigration department processed about 4,000 FSWP persons between February 28 and March 15 and with the way it’s going, the FSWP backlog could finish 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
Grand total123,524134,337-10,813

The family class inventory has shown some progress 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, the Immigration Minister Sean Fraser has said that the processing standards for new applications are back to the 12-months standard. The government also offers a tool that will help spousal sponsorship applicant’s track and monitor their application status.

Family Class Immigration

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

Places The Backlog Has Grown Since February

At the end of February 2022, the citizenship inventory was 453,265. This figure included all prospective, mailroom estimates and unopened electronic applications.

IRCC previously reported that backlog for citizenship applicants was standing at about 448,000 on December 31, 2021.


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

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

Some other permanent residency program inventories that saw major growth in backlogs were the paper-based Provincial Nominee Program (PNP), the Caring for Children Program and the Quebec Skilled Worker Program.

Permanent Residence

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
Grand total518,667519,030-363

Economic Class Immigration

Immigration categoryPersons as of March 15Persons as of February 28Persons as of February 1Difference
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

There were also numbers of increases in temporary residence applications. Work permits saw the largest increase of about 14,700 between February 1 and March 17. Extensions for both work and study permits as well as visitor records were also on the rise.

Temporary Residence

TR categoryPersons as of March 17Persons as of February 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
Grand total872,492848,598+23,894

The Major Changes Since Autumn 2021

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

By pausing the draws for these programs, no new applications were coming in for them and this allowed officers to process the backlog.

But even at that, IRCC has been holding PNP draws every two weeks in record numbers.

With the public IRCC records, the Express Entry draws for FSWP and CEC candidates will be seen to resume in 2022 and once the backlogs are reduced, the processing standard of six-months will resume.

In the budget for 2021, Canada allocated $85 million to reduce processing times across all IRCC lines of business. Minister Fraser has said that this budget was to allow Canada return to processing service standards for study permits, permanent resident card renewals and work permits by the end of the year.

In February, Canada released its Immigration Levels Plan 2022-2024 and in this plan, it has an immigration plan of admitting 1.3 million immigrants to Canada within the next three years.

The Express Entry targets are reduced for 2022 and 2023 under the Immigration Levels Plan but return to over 110,000 immigrants in 2024.

Also, there is an introduction of the Canada-Ukraine Authorization for Emergency Travel (CUAET), an accelerated temporary residence pathway for Ukrainians fleeing the Russian invasion.

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

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