Canada’s immigration backlog shows little change from January

Edana Robitaille
Published: February 7, 2023

In an email to CIC News Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) reported that the number of applicants in inventory has remained consistent with January data, at just over 2.1 million.

The data is current as of January 31-February 1.

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 302,980 applicants as of February 1, compared to 301,388 on January 3.

The permanent residence inventory stands at 523,557 people as of January 31, compared to 521,552 as of January 2.

Also on January 31, the temporary residence inventory stood at 1,294,974 people, compared to 1,329,280 persons as of January 2.

Therefore, there were increases in two of the three major categories. Still, there was a decrease of just over 34,000 applications in inventory for temporary residence between January and February data.

Immigration CategoryPersons as of January 31- February 1
Permanent Residence523,557
Temporary Residence1,294,974
Citizenship302,980
Grand total2,121,511

Express Entry and PNP inventories

The data from IRCC shows 47,868 applicants for Express Entry programs waiting in the queue as of January 31. This is a small decrease of 541 since the January 3 data, which stood at 48,409.

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

The PNP has an inventory of 66,214 total applicants, (both base and enhanced applications combined), which is a significant increase from the January PNP inventory data of 62,720 persons.

Family class inventory

The inventory for all family class immigration programs dropped slightly to 124,771 compared to the 125,631 from the January 3 data.

The Spouses and Partners sponsorship program is among the largest inventories among all lines of business, at 61,191, a slight decrease compared to 61,481 on January 3.

The Parents and Grandparents Program (PGP) has an inventory of 52,801 persons compared to 52,960 persons waiting for decisions in January.

Service Standards

Service standards provide the expected timeline, or goal, for how long it should take to process an application. The service standard is different from the actual amount of time that IRCC takes to process applications. Applications not processed within the service standard for their program are categorized as backlog.

IRCC aims to process 80% of applications across all lines of business within a reasonable amount of time. This can vary depending on the type of application. For example, 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.

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