Canada’s immigration backlog grows to 2.7 million people

Kareem El-Assal, Shelby Thevenot
Published: July 19, 2022

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.

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It has progressed as follows since last July:

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.

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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.

Citizenship Inventory

Application typePersons as of July 15, 2022
Total Citizenship Inventory444,792

Immigration Inventory

Immigration CategoryPersons as of July 17
Economic Class211,903
Family Class118,251
Humanitarian & Compassionate / Public Policy29,848
Permit Holders Class16
Protected Persons154,098
Total Immigration Inventory514,116

Express Entry Inventory

Immigration CategoryPersons as of July 17
Canadian Experience Class (EE)5,195
Federal Skilled Workers (EE)18,127
Skilled Trades (EE)369
Provincial/Territorial Nominees (EE)27,925
Total Immigration Inventory51,616

Family Class Inventory

Immigration CategoryPersons as of July 17, 2022
Children & Other Family Class9,147
FCH-Family relations - H&C3,067
Parents and Grandparents47,025
Spouses & Partners59,012
Total Family Class Inventory118,251

Economic Class Inventory

Immigration categoryPersons as of July 17, 2022
Agri-Food Pilot Program765
Atlantic Immigration Pilot Programs2,380
Atlantic Immigration Program33
Canadian Experience Class (EE)5,195
Canadian Experience Class (No EE)109
Caring for Children60
Federal Entrepreneur4
Federal Self Employed4,502
Federal Skilled Workers (C-50)123
Federal Skilled Workers (EE)18,127
Federal Skilled Workers (Pre C-50)23
High Medical Needs7
Home Child Care Pilot18,191
Home Support Worker Pilot6,912
Interim Pathway Measure767
Live-in Caregiver931
Provincial/Territorial Nominees (EE)27,925
Provincial/Territorial Nominees (No EE)35,599
Quebec Entrepreneur281
Quebec Investor11,115
Quebec Self Employed94
Quebec Skilled Workers24,570
Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot1,118
Skilled Trades (EE)369
Skilled Trades (No EE)2
Start-up Business1,309
TR to PR51,392
Total Economic Class Inventory211,903

Humanitarian and Compassionate Inventory

Immigration CategoryPersons as of July 17, 2022
HC & PH class-ADM Dependant Person Overseas44
Humanitarian & Compassionate Straight3,067
Humanitarian & Compassionate with Risk or Discrimination47,025
Public Policy With RAP59,012
Public Policy Without RAP118,251
Total H&C Inventory5,341

Permit Holders Inventory

Immigration CategoryPersons as of July 17, 2022
Permit Holders Class16
Total Permit Holders Inventory16

Protected Persons Inventory

Immigration CategoryPersons as of July 17, 2022
Blended Visa Office-Referred150
Dependants Abroad of Protected Persons26,628
Federal Government-assisted Refugees33,531
Privately Sponsored Refugees71,076
Protected Persons Landed In Canada21,770
Quebec Government-assisted Refugees943
Total Protected Persons Inventory154,098

Temporary Residence Inventory

Application typePersons as of July 17, 2022
Study Permit196,729
Study Permit Extension35,482
Temporary Resident Visa903,971
Visitor Record90,195
Work Permit313,710
Work Permit - Extension180,036
Total Temporary Residence Inventory1,720,123

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