Despite an increased number of applications, the backlog of Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) applications is gradually decreasing, according to the most recent data. As of July 31, there is a backlog of 802,600 applications out of a total of 2,274,600. Compared to the previous update on May 31, these numbers indicate a shrinking backlog. This is particularly notable considering that the summer months typically see an increase in applications, especially for study permits, work permits, and temporary resident visas.
The backlog refers to applications that have been submitted but have not yet been finalized. If an application is not processed within the service standards set by IRCC, it is considered to be in backlog. The service standards vary depending on the type of application. For example, Express Entry applications for permanent residence should be processed within six months, while study permits should be processed within 60 days. IRCC aims to process 80% of all applications within service standards and keep the backlog at 20% or less.
In 2022, IRCC finalized over 5.2 million applications across all lines of business. The most recent data shows that there are currently 631,500 permanent resident (PR) applications in inventory, with 290,500, or 46%, considered in the backlog. However, this is an improvement compared to May when there were 640,000 PR applications in inventory, with 48% not processed within service standards.
The backlog projections for PR applications are divided into three categories. The backlog for Federal High Skilled Workers, such as those in the Express Entry program, stands at 16%, slightly higher than the projected 15% in July 2023. The backlog for candidates in the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) remains unchanged from May, with 30% of applications in backlog, exceeding the projected and targeted 20%. The backlog for PR applications for spouses, partners, and children is at 18%, lower than the projected 24% and 2% lower than in May.
In terms of citizenship applications, 23% of the 296,900 applications in inventory are in backlog, a drop from 27% in May. This data aligns with the IRCC projection of a 24% backlog for citizenship applications, with expectations of an increase to 26% in August and September.
For temporary residence visas and permits, there are currently 902,000 applications in inventory, significantly lower than the 1.3 million in May. Just like permanent residence applications, temporary residence permits are also categorized into study permits, work permits, and visitor visas. The data shows that 47% of temporary residence visas were not being processed within the 14-day service standard, slightly higher than the 45% in May. The backlog percentage for study permits remains unchanged at 17%, lower than the targeted 20%. The backlog for work permit applications is at 25%, slightly lower than May’s 27% but higher than the projected backlog of 22%.
To reduce the backlog of temporary residence applications, IRCC has implemented several measures this year. These measures include launching an online portal for some permanent residence applicants to apply online, extending work permits for those with expiring post-graduate work permits, increasing the length of stay for parents and grandparents in Canada on a Super Visa to five years with the option of a two-year extension, expanding the student direct stream to include seven additional countries, and extending work permit eligibility to family members of temporary foreign workers.
It is worth noting that approximately 15% of temporary resident visa (visitor visa) applications and 71% of work permit applications in inventory come from the Canada-Ukraine Authorization for Emergency Travel (CUAET). IRCC received over 1.1 million CUAET applications before the program stopped accepting applications on July 15. Under CUAET, applicants could apply for a temporary resident visa and a work permit simultaneously.
Despite the challenges posed by the increased number of applications, IRCC’s efforts to reduce the backlog are showing promising results. As the backlog gradually decreases, applicants can expect more efficient processing times and improved service standards. Whether it is for permanent residence, citizenship, or temporary residence, IRCC’s commitment to meeting service standards and reducing the backlog is a positive development for individuals seeking immigration opportunities in Canada.