Canadian Immigration backlog 

How Immigration works in Canada

How Immigration works in Canada 

Immigration in Canada is the joint responsibility of the Federal government and the provinces. Together, they operate a wide range of immigration programs catering to economic immigrants, Caregivers, Entrepreneurs and Refugees, among other classes. 

The IRCC functions at the centre of this system. It was created in 1994 to integrate immigration services with citizenship registration and is responsible for granting permanent residency to eligible applicants, along with citizenship and travel documents. 

The IRCC handles the challenging task of managing Immigration to Canada- one of the most famous immigrant destinations in the world. 

Their mission, as stated on the IRCC portal, is: 

  • The Development and implementation of policies, programs and services to: 
    • facilitate Immigration and their integration into Canada in a healthy, safe and secure manner; 
    • maintain Canada’s humanitarian traditions, including the protection of refugees and asylum seekers; 
    • enhance Canadian values and promote the rights and responsibilities of Canadian citizenship 
    • Foster increased intercultural understanding and an integrated society with equal opportunity for all, regardless of race, ethnicity and religion. 
  • To advance global migration policies to support Canada’s Immigration and humanitarian objectives. 

The Process starts with an Immigration Levels Plan that sets immigration targets for the future.  

The most recent Immigration Levels Plan for 2022-2024 sets the target at 431,645 new permanent residents in 2022, 447,055 in 2023 and 451,000 in 2024. 

Immigration situation in Canada 

The focus is on economic Immigration as Canada prepares to weather a severe workforce shortage. According to Statistics Canada, more than 21.8% of the working-age population were between 55 and 64 (65 being the legal retirement age). 

Other worrying trends were the climbing job vacancy rates that touched record numbers during the first quarter of 2022 and the declining unemployment rates. This indicates that the country cannot meet its labour demands with the current population. 

The government has come to rely on Economic Immigration to fill the gaps in the labour market. 

What is Economic Immigration? 

Economic Immigration is a category of Immigration that caters to the need of the Canadian economy. It allows skilled immigrants to migrate to job opportunities in Canada. The immigration numbers targeted under this stream by the Immigration Levels plan for 2022 are: 

Immigrant Category  2022 Target 
  Overall Planned Permanent Resident Admissions  431,645 
Economic class  Federal high skilled (Express Entry program)   55,900 
Federal Economic Public policies  40,000 
Federal Business  1,000 
Economic Pilots (Caregivers, Agri-pilot, Rural & Northern Immigration pilot, Economic Mobility Pathways project.)  10,250 
Atlantic Immigration Pilot  6,250 
Provincial Nominee Program (PNP)  83,500 
Total Immigration targeted under Economic class  241,850 

What are Inventories and Backlog 

According to the IRCC’s portal

Inventory refers to the applications received for the IRCC’s immigration programs. 

A backlog refers to applications stuck in the IRCC’s inventory longer than their service standards. 

Current Canadian inventory and Backlog 

As of July 31, 2022, the IRCC has over 2.4 million total applications in all its inventories. Of these: 

  • 1.1 million are within service standards 
  • 1.3 million are in Backlog. 

What is causing the Canadian Immigration backlog 

Many reasons contribute to the build-up of immigration application backlogs. For one, Canada is one of the most popular immigration destinations and has over 2.4 million immigration applications in its inventory- as of July 2022. 

The 2021 Anholt-Ipsos Nation Brands Index ranked Canada second after Germany with high rankings on Governance, People, Immigration and Investment indices. 

The situation will be exacerbated by the government’s decision to increase Immigration targets for the coming years. 

To summarize, the reason for over 1.3 million applications being in Backlog are: 

  • The build-up in applications over the Covid-19 pandemic- The pandemic disrupted the IRCC’s ability to process applications and run their immigration programs. Health concerns surrounding international travel were enough to slow down the number of processed immigration applications. 
  • The Humanitarian crisis around the world, mainly in Afghanistan in the wake of the Allied withdrawal, contributed to a surge of refugees and humanitarian cases. The Canadian government committed to resettling at least 40,000 Afghan refugees. So far, 19,395 Afghan refugees have arrived in Canada. 
  • Aging technology 
  • The Canadian economy’s labour demands force Canada to set higher immigration targets. This puts stress on the IRCC to process a growing number of applications. 

Potential solutions in the pipeline 

In a News release on August 24, 2022, Sean Fraser, the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, reiterated his ministry’s work on the growing application backlogs. The measures are focused on addressing Canada’s current labour shortages, improving client-side experience through updated technology and the humanitarian goal of reuniting families. 

  • Launching an online portal for Permanent Resident applicants 
  • Hiring more employees to speed up the processing times and the number of applications that can be processed at once. This includes 1,259 new employees by the end of fall 2022. 
  • Reviewing and improving the Process, and upgradation of technology used in the immigration process 
  • Increasing Permanent Resident targets and expanding online applications for citizenship so that lesser applicants are stuck in the system’s Backlog 

Impact on immigrants 

The IRCC aims to process 80% of all applications within service standards (or 20% backlog target). 

The backlog projections for year-end, according to Stewart McKelvey firm, are: 

  • It is projected this target will be reached or exceeded for permanent residence applications (including Federal High Skilled, Provincial Nominee Program, and spouses, partners and children applications). 
  • In particular, Federal high Skilled applications are anticipated to see the largest improvement with a backlog decrease of 79% between now and year-end. 
  • Citizenship applications are projected to fall just shy of the target at a 25% backlog by December 2022. 
  • Temporary resident applications will continue to experience the highest level of backlogs by year-end. 
  • Work permits, in particular, will face even more severe backlogs by year-end. Namely, the projected Backlog for these applications is listed at 60% by December 2022, which is over a 30% increase from current levels. 
  • Study permit and temporary resident visa applications are projected to remain fairly constant at 33% and 66% by year-end respectively. 

Immigration plays a vital role in Canada’s economy, and the recent Immigration Levels plan reflects the government’s commitment to it. The IRCC works to keep the Backlog within reasonable limits, and applicants should look forward to improved wait times and a more efficient immigration process. 

Janggoulal Sitlhou

Janggoulal Sitlhou

Janggoulal Sitlhou is a content writer with SettleCanada. He is a Political Sciences graduate and a keen follower of international affairs and contemporary history. He has a background in publishing and regularly dabbles in writing and game development projects. Janggoulal currently writes on issues related to Canadian Immigration.