Canada




Canada faced a rapidly-growing backlog of applications for citizenship and temporary and permanent residence in the first five months of this year as Ottawa set a record-breaking pace for welcoming new immigrants.

By the end of the first week of June, Canada’s backlog of immigration applications had hit almost 2.39 million. The exact number was 2,387,884.

That’s a spike of almost 12.1 per cent, or 257,499 applications, from the slightly more than 2.1 million – exactly 2,130,385 – in the backlog at the beginning of May.


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Ottawa’s move to welcome an unlimited number of Ukrainians fleeing their war-torn country is being blamed for at least part of the increase in applications.

Ukrainians Fleeing War-Torn Homeland Drive Up Temporary Residency Applications In Canada

“The inventory for temporary resident visas and work permits has also increased significantly with the introduction of the Canada-Ukraine Authorization for Emergency Travel (CUAET),” noted Peter Liang, a spokesperson for Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) in an e-mailed response to Immigration.ca.

“The CUAET is a temporary program that allows us to bring people to Canada quickly based on demand by leveraging our existing temporary resident visa processes, networks and infrastructure to bring as many Ukrainians as we can to Canada as quickly as possible … As of June 8, IRCC had received 296,163 CUAET applications.”


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Canada’s backlog of applications for permanent residency did, in fact, go down slightly during the month of May, nudging down a bit more than 1.5 per cent to 522,047 from 530,269.

But, during the same period, applications for temporary residency jumped by more than 22.5 per cent to almost 1.5 million from slightly more than 1.2 million. 

Processing Inventory Of Permanent Residence Applications As Of June 6

Immigration Category

Total

Economic

Canadian Experience Class

6,088

Caregiver Program

24,193

Federal Business

4,877

Federal Skilled Workers

25,081

Ministerial Instruction Economic Programs

5,962

Provincial/Territorial Nominees

68,221

Quebec Business

12,485

Quebec Skilled Workers

27,146

Skilled Trades

434

Temporary Resident to Permanent Resident(TRPR)

49,447

Total

223,934

Family Class

FCH-Family relations – H&C

3,106

Parents and Grandparents

41,802

Spouses, Partners & Children

67,929

Total

112,837

Humanitarian & Compassionate / Public Policy

Humanitarian & Compassionate

24,651

Public Policy

5,332

Total

29,983

Permit Holders Class

Permit Holders Class

19

Total

19

Protected Persons

Blended Visa Office-Referred

228

Government-assisted Refugees

36,002

Privately Sponsored Refugees

71,728

Protected Persons Landed In Canada & Dependants Abroad

47,316

Total

155,274

Total

522,047

Inventory of Temporary Residence Applications as of June 6

Application Type

Total

Study Permits

173,353

Study Permits Extensions

35,492

Temporary Resident Visas

771,482

Visitor Record

82,113

Work Permits

236,735

Work Permits Extensions

171,998

Total

1,471,173

The rise in applications for temporary residency is also being partly blamed on the seasonal increase of international students applying for study visas for the 2022/23 school year.

“There are … fluctuations in the number of applications we receive at different times of the year. For example, study permit applications and visitor applications increase in the spring,” noted Liang. “This is is expected, as many designated learning institutions send out letters of acceptance for programs that start in September and most individuals prefer to visit Canada in the summer months.

The growing backlog of applications at the IRCC belies the current record-breaking pace for processing them by Canadian immigration officials.

Canada Processing Permanent And Temporary Residence Applications Faster Than Ever

“Canada has just welcomed its 200,000th permanent resident this year, as of June 9, 2022, more than a month and a half faster than any year in recent history of Canada,” revealed Caron.

“It is worth noting that IRCC has already processed 175,616 study permit applications between January and April 2022. This compares to 163,346 applications during the same time period in 2021, which was a record year for study permit processing, or 93,290 for the same time period in 2019, before the pandemic.”

The backlog at the start of this month also included 394,664 citizenship applications, down marginally from the 399,325 citizenship applications in the inventory at the beginning of May.

The growing backlog of immigration applications comes as Canada is welcoming immigrants at a record-setting pace.

The latest IRCC data shows there were 149,820 new permanent residents to Canada in the first four months of this year, putting the country on track to welcome 449,460 new permanent residents this year, or 17,815 more than the 431,645 record-breaking target of the latest immigration levels plan.

Canada’s open-door policy for immigration has it already on track to welcome 2,405 more new permanent residents this year than the 447,055 set out under next year’s even more ambitious immigration target.

A big driver of that immigration growth so far this year has been the one-time, temporary-to-permanent resident (TR-to-PR) program which took applications until November and was flooded with 84,177 applications.

TR-to-PR Pathway A Big Driver Of Surge In New Permanent Residents

That pathway targeted healthcare and other workers in Canada and recent international graduates from Canadian colleges and universities. It applied across the country with the exception of the francophone province of Quebec which operates its own immigration system.

In the first four months of this year, 22,190 immigrants gained their permanent residency to Canada under this pathway.

In its Immigration Levels Plan for 2022 to 2024, Canada has targeted 40,000 new permanent residents under federal economic public policies for this year, which includes the TR-to-PR pathway, with a range of 30,000 to 48,000 new permanent residents.

At the current rate of admission of new permanent residents to the country, Canada could welcome 66,570 new permanent residents under the TR-to-PR pathway this year, indicating Ottawa is well on track to hit its goal.

Despite the rise in its backlog of applications and the record-breaking pace of immigration to Canada, IRCC officials say they are confident they will be able to deal with these multiple initiatives.

“The government of Canada is investing an additional $117 million to implement Canada’s new immigration measures to welcome those fleeing the war in Ukraine,” said Liang. 

Extra Funding Allowing IRCC To Process Applications More Quickly

“This three-year funding investment will help fund new immigration pathways, including the CUAET, expedite the processing of applications and provide support to newcomers once they arrive in Canada. This funding will allow IRCC to procure additional resources, including the hiring of additional staff at the client support centre, to support Ukrainians while continuing to deliver on important priorities and processing commitments for other immigration programs.

The immigration official also said the IRCC is moving towards a more integrated, modernized and centralized working environment in order to help speed up application processing globally. 

“To support the processing and settlement of new permanent residents to Canada as part of Canada’s Immigration Levels Plan, the government has committed $2.1 billion over five years and $317.6 million ongoing in new funding in Budget 2022,” said Liang.

“Supported by additional funding of $85 million from the 2021 Economic and Fiscal Update, we are continuing our efforts to reduce application inventories accumulated during the pandemic. The funding builds on the work that has already been done to reduce wait times, such as hiring new processing staff, digitizing applications, and implementing technology-based solutions such as digital intake and advanced analytics.”

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