Canada’s immigration backlog decreases to 2.4 million people

Edana Robitaille
Published: November 10, 2022

Canada’s immigration backlog has dropped to just over 2.4 million according to new data obtained from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).

In an email to CIC News, IRCC provided updated data, which is current as of November 3.

The inventory across all lines of business has progressed as follows since July 2021:

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Current Inventories

The citizenship inventory stands at 331,401 applicants as of October 31, compared to 351,964 on October 3.

The permanent residence inventory stands at 506,421 people as of November 3, compared to 505,562 as of October 3.

Also on November 3, the temporary residence inventory stood at 1,537,566 people, compared to 1,651,649 persons as of October 3.

Therefore, there were reductions in two of the three major categories, with the biggest reduction in the temporary residence inventory.

Immigration CategoryPersons as of November 3, 2022
Permanent residence506,421
Temporary residence1,573,566
Grand Total2,411,388

Express Entry and PNP inventories

As of November 3, there are 39,589 Express Entry applications waiting in the queue.

IRCC has resumed holding rounds of invitations for Express Entry candidates from all programs as of July. Draws were limited to the candidates in the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) between September 21, 2021 and July 6, 2022 due IRCC struggling to meet its service standard of processing Express Entry applications in six months or less. The pause in Express Entry invitations to Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP) and Canadian Experience Class (CEC) candidates enabled IRCC to reduce the Express Entry inventory and the department is back to its six month service standard for those who have received a permanent residence invitation since July 6.

The PNP has an inventory of 62,073 total applications (both base and enhanced combined).

Family class inventory

The inventory for all family class immigration programs is up to 128,112, compared to October 3 when it was 125,488.

The Spouses and Partners program is among the largest inventories among all lines of business, at 61,118, a minimal increase compared with October 3.

The Parents and Grandparents Program (PGP) has an inventory of 55,653 persons compared to 53,530 persons waiting for decisions in October.

Service standards

According to the IRCC webpage that tracks the inventory of applications across all lines of business, there were 2.6 million applications in IRCC’s inventory on September 30. Of those, 1.1 million were within service standards and 1.5 million were considered backlog. This means that over the past month, IRCC has made some progress towards reducing the backlog.

IRCC aims to process 80% of applications across all lines of business within service standards, or the goal that IRCC sets to process the average application, depending on the immigration program.

The service standard is different from the actual amount of time that IRCC takes to process applications. Applications that are not processed within the service standard for their program are considered falling under the backlog.

Each application has a different service standard. For example, as noted above, a permanent residence application through an Express Entry program has a standard of six months. It is longer for other economic class lines of business. IRCC states its service standard for spousal and child family class sponsorship is 12 months.

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

IRCC working on the backlog

IRCC has acknowledged the backlog and says it is taking steps to improve the speed at which applications are processed.

The department aims to have a less than 50% backlog across all lines of business by the end of March 2023. To clear the backlog on schedule, IRCC began the transition towards 100% digital applications for most permanent resident programs on September 23, with accommodations made for those who are unable to apply online.

This transition also includes citizenship applications, which are now 100% online for all applicants over the age of 18. IRCC is aiming to make all citizenships applications digital by the end of this year, including those for minors under 18.

IRCC has also invested $85 million in hiring 1,250 new staff by the end of autumn to increase processing capacity and says it is modernizing and streamlining the system.

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