Immigration Minister Sean Fraser’s hiring blitz at Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) is barely making a dent in the department’s inventory of applications for permanent and temporary residency and citizenship.
At the end of the first week of June this year, there was a backlog of roughly 2.39 million applications at at the IRCC.
Fast forward four months and the IRCC’s backlog of applications is even higher at more than 2.5 million.
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That’s despite a hiring blitz announced about a month ago to bring on 1,250 more employees at the immigration department this fall and several measures announced in late April to help Canadian employers deal with the challenge of finding employees amid a severe labour shortage.
In late April, the IRCC announced:
- the resumption of Express Entry draws starting in July of this year;
- a temporary policy to give recent international graduates with expiring temporary status the opportunity to stay in Canada longer;
- the extension of a temporary public policy to allow foreign nationals in Canada as visitors to apply for an employer-specific work permit without having to leave Canada until the end of February 2023, and;
- policy changes benefiting those who applied for permanent residence via the Temporary Resident to Permanent Resident (TR-to-PR) pathway last year.
Despite those changes, the backlog at the IRCC initially only grew over the summer as the immigration department was flooded with a record level of applications.
By mid-July, the IRCC was staring down more than 2.6 million applications.
Since then, the department has made some headway. Applications at the IRCC have since fallen by almost 4.3 per cent, or 112,432 applications.
In an emailed response to Immigration.ca, IRCC spokesperson Isabelle Dubois said the department’s performance in August and September “largely matched projections.”
The latest drop in the IRCC’s inventory of applications comes as immigration to Canada shows every sign of setting a new record again this year.
Based on the trend in the first eight months of this year, Canada is poised to welcome 463,860 new permanent residents by the end of this year, or almost 7.5 per cent more than the 431,645 target in the Immigration Levels Plan for 2022.
Applications Are Being Processed Faster But There Record Numbers Of Them
Under pressure to deal with the backlog, the IRCC made a distinction between the number of applications it has in its inventories and applications which have taken longer to process than allowed under service standards.
In her response to Immigration.ca, Dubois pointed out that although the total number of applications in the department’s inventory was nudging back up again in the first few weeks of October, applications are being processed faster.
The number of applications the IRCC defines as backlog is going down.
“The percentage of applications in backlog has remained consistent for permanent residence at 53 per cent, and decreased for temporary residence from 59 to 54 per cent and citizenship grants from 35 to 31 per cent,” wrote Dubois.
“This means that we are well on our way to meeting our goals to reduce overall backlogs and process 80 per cent of new applications within service standards – and we will continue to do what it takes to get there.”
The latest IRCC data reveals citizenship applications in the department’s inventory fell by more than 9.1 per cent, from 387,368 in mid-July to 351,964 by Oct. 3.
Permanent residency applications also fell from mid-July through to Oct. 3, decreasing almost 1.7 per cent from 514,116 to 505,562 applications, a drop of 8,554.
Applications For Privately-Sponsored Refugees Fell By 6.9%
A big chunk of the drop in permanent residency applications, 57.3 per cent of that reduction in applications in that category, is due to a decrease of 4,905 privately-sponsored refugee applications, a drop of 6.9 per cent from the 71,076 in mid-July.
Under the economic programs, the IRCC had 9,484 fewer applications in its inventory at the start of October than it did in mid-July as the number of those applications fell almost 4.5 per cent from 211,903 to 202,419.
The biggest change in that category of programs during that period was the reduction of 7,100 applications under the Express Entry Federal Skilled Worker (FSW) program, a cut of 39.1 per cent from the 18,127 applications in July to 11,027 in early October.
During that same period, the number of applications in the IRCC inventory for the Atlantic Immigration Pilot (AIP) was cut almost exactly in half as the federal government transitioned away from the pilot towards the permanent version of that program.
There was a drop of 7,269 in the number of Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) applications through Express Entry but that was more than offset by a spike of 8,809 PNP applications received outside the Express Entry system.
Applications in the IRCC inventory for the Quebec Skilled Worker program dropped by 3,626 during that period and applications under the one-time TR-to-PR pathway were down by a comparable amount, 3,966.
Temporary residence applications in the IRCC’s inventory fell by just under four percent, or 68,474 applications, from July through to October.
That result is largely attributable to the reduction of 62,748 study permit applications and another drop of 4,109 study permit extension applications during that period, for a total of 66,857 student-related applications, as the school year got underway.
Permanent Residence Applications as of Oct. 3, 2022
|Economic||Agri-Food Pilot Program||830|
|Atlantic Immigration Pilot Programs||1,194|
|Atlantic Immigration Program||320|
|Canadian Experience Class (EE)||7,420|
|Canadian Experience Class (No EE)||115|
|Caring for Children||42|
|Federal Self Employed||3,831|
|Federal Skilled Workers (C-50)||134|
|Federal Skilled Workers (EE)||11,027|
|Federal Skilled Workers (Pre C-50)||23|
|High Medical Needs||4|
|Home Child Care Pilot||19,842|
|Home Support Worker Pilot||9,034|
|Interim Pathway Measure||536|
|Provincial/Territorial Nominees (EE)||20,656|
|Provincial/Territorial Nominees (No EE)||44,408|
|Quebec Self Employed||78|
|Quebec Skilled Workers||20,944|
|Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot||1,167|
|Skilled Trades (EE)||293|
|Skilled Trades (No EE)||5|
|TR to PR||47,426|
|Economic – Total||202,419|
|Family Class||Children & Other Family Class||8,761|
|FCH-Family relations – H&C||2,575|
|Parents and Grandparents||53,530|
|Spouses & Partners||60,622|
|Family Class – Total||125,488|
|Humanitarian & Compassionate / Public Policy||HC & PH class-ADM Dependant Person Overseas||44|
|Humanitarian & Compassionate Straight||10,868|
|Humanitarian & Compassionate with Risk or Discrimination||13,635|
|Public Policy With RAP||38|
|Public Policy Without RAP||4,665|
|Humanitarian & Compassionate / Public Policy – Total||29,250|
|Permit Holders Class – Total||21|
|Protected Persons||Blended Visa Office-Referred||195|
|Dependants Abroad of Protected Persons||27,088|
|Federal Government-assisted Refugees||30,659|
|Privately Sponsored Refugees||66,171|
|Protected Persons Landed In Canada||23,435|
|Quebec Government-assisted Refugees||836|
|Protected Persons – Total||148,384|
|Overall – Total||505,562|
Temporary Residence Applications as of Oct. 3, 2022
|Study Permit Extension||31,373|
|Temporary Resident Visa||912,846|
|Visitor Record Extension||80,779|
|Work Permit Extension||177,354|
Citizenship Applications as of Oct. 3, 2022