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Canada Immigration Application Backlog Dropping – But Very, Very Slowly

Canada’s efforts to reduce the backlog of immigration applications led to a roughly 1.3-per cent drop in the inventory under economic programs in the first two months of this year.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) data reveals there were 234,740 people with applications for permanent residence through economic programs on Dec. 31 last year and still 231,635 by the end of February this year, a decrease of 3,105.


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Immigration Minister Sean Fraser pledged earlier this year to return Canada’s Express Entry system back to normal operations and he has also made promises to cut the backlog of applications.

Federal Government Investing in Immigration Processes to Cut Backlog

Canada is to spend $2.1 billion in the next five years to improve the processing of permanent residence applications and tackle the backlog.

Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland announced the new funding as part of her federal budget on April 7. The spending also includes $317.6 million ongoing – on top of the $85 million announced in the Fall Economic Statement last year.

“We have also embarked on an unprecedented modernization of the immigration system, with more than $800 million in the 2021 budget to create a brand-new digital platform for managing immigration cases,” said IRCC spokesperson Béatrice Fénelon last week.

“This new platform will transform our immigration system, meaning cases will be processed faster and workers will arrive sooner.”


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Until those measures are implemented and wait times reduced, though, many foreign nationals may simply have to be patient.

Data provided to Immigration.ca by the IRCC shows some pathways to permanent residency are already benefiting considerably from efforts to cut the backlog of applications.

with the Canadian Experience Class application process temporarily suspended, Canadian immigration officials were able to cut the backlog there almost in half, from 20,784 people waiting in the queue at the end of last year to 11,564 by the end of February.


Permanent Residence Applications in the Processing Inventory as of Specified Dates* under the Economic Class (in Persons)

Immigration Category

Persons as ofDec. 31, 2021

Persons as of Feb. 28, 2022

Agri-Food Pilot Program

743

644

Atlantic Immigration Pilot Programs

2,738

2,632

Canadian Experience Class (EE)

20,784

11,564

Canadian Experience Class (Not EE)

59

93

Caring for Children

102

85

Federal Self Employed

4,942

5,272

Federal Skilled Workers (C-50)

222

196

Federal Skilled Workers (EE)

53,815

44,378

Federal Skilled Workers (Pre C-50)

24

23

High Medical Needs

29

fifteen

Home Child Care Pilot

8,756

11,704

Home Support Worker Pilot

2,679

3,627

Interim Pathway Measure

1,815

1,241

Live-in Caregiver

1,638

1,323

Provincial/Territorial Nominees (EE)

40,132

37,053

Provincial/Territorial Nominees (No EE)

28,059

32,902

Québec Entrepreneur

461

416

Québec Investor

14,424

14,070

Québec Self Employed

82

95

Quebec Skilled Workers

26,932

26,584

Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot

1,052

879

Skilled Trades (EE)

802

628

Skilled Trades (No EE)

9

3

Start-up Business

1,264

1,378

TR to PR

23,177

34,830

Grand Total

234,740

231,635


The number of people waiting for a decision on Federal Skilled Worker applications through the Express Entry program also fell by more than 17.5 per cent, from 53,815 at the end of last year to 44,378 by the end of February.

Those bright spots, though, remain overshadowed by the increase in the backlog under several other programs.

Among the pathways which saw the greatest increases in the number of people waiting for a decision for permanent residence were the Federal Self Employed program backlog which grew by 330 people, to 5,272 from 4,942, during those same two months.

Pnp Economic Pathways See Growth of 17.3% in 2022

The queue of people waiting for decisions on their permanent residence applications under the Home Child Care Pilot grew by 2,948, from 8,756 to 11,704. And the Home Support Worker Pilot also saw an increase of 948 people, or almost 35.4 per cent, on its wait list which grew from 2,679 people to 3,627.

Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) and Territorial Nominee Program nominees outside of Express Entry increased in number by almost 17.3 per cent, from 28,059 to 32,902 during the two months that ended Feb. 28.

Frustrated by long delays, many applicants for permanent residency to Canada are taking to social media to voice their displeasure.

“Give us a definite timeline, we cannot wait forever to get a final decision,” tweeted one person anxious to hear of improvements to the caregiver programs. “Hear us out please.”

It’s a commonplace sentiment on Twitter.

“I just lost my trust in IRCC and the Canadian government who just played with our lives by keeping our permanent residence files on hold for around five years,” alleged one man.

Among the challenges facing Ottawa is not only the slowdown in operations during the Covid-19 pandemic at IRCC – and its resulting backlogs – but also the current government’s commitment to ever-higher, record-breaking levels of immigration to help resolve labor shortages plaguing Canadian businesses.


Permanent Residence Applications Received between Nov. 1, 2021 and Jan. 31, 2022 under the Economic Class (in Applications)

Immigration Category October 2021 December 2021 February 2022 Total
Agri-Food Pilot Program 24 22 eleven 57
Atlantic Immigration Pilot Programs 225 391 246 862
Canadian Experience Class (EE) 450 450
Canadian Experience Class (Not EE) one one two
Federal Self Employed two one two 5
Home Child Care Pilot one 10 eleven
Home Support Worker Pilot 27 31 3 61
Live-in Caregiver one one
Provincial/Territorial Nominees (EE) 1,400 1,454 1,477 4,331
Provincial/Territorial Nominees (No EE) 16 fifteen 10 41
Quebec Skilled Workers 204 175 109 488
Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot 91 94 42 227
Start-up Business one one
TR to PR 1,455 1,455
Grand Total 3,895 2,186 1,911 7,992

Permanent Residence Applications Received between Nov. 1, 2021 and Jan. 31, 2022 under the Economic Class (in Persons)

Immigration Category

October 2021

December 2021

February 2022

Total

Agri-Food Pilot Program

55

51

twenty-one

127

Atlantic Immigration Pilot Programs

396

668

437

1,501

Canadian Experience Class (EE)

647

647

Canadian Experience Class (Not EE)

one

one

two

Federal Self Employed

4

3

4

eleven

Home Child Care Pilot

4

23

27

Home Support Worker Pilot

72

74

eleven

157

Live-in Caregiver

7

7

Provincial/Territorial Nominees (EE)

3,109

3,225

3,232

9,566

Provincial/Territorial Nominees (No EE)

46

46

twenty

112

Quebec Skilled Workers

473

433

268

1,174

Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot

184

206

104

494

Start-up Business

3

3

TR to PR

1,917

1,917

Grand Total

6,904

4,720

4,121

15,745


Ottawa is hoping to welcome 431,645 permanent residents this year, 447,055 next year, and 451,000 in 2024.

In January this year, the IRCC received 1,911 PNP applications under economic programs and these applications alone added another 4,121 to the queue of those waiting for permanent residence to Canada.

Canada is also still processing tens of thousands of applications it received last year under the one-time, temporary-to-permanent resident pathway. As of the end of February this year, there were still 34,830 people awaiting decisions on their permanent residence applications under that pathway.

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