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immigration applications backlog

Canada faces over 1.8 million immigration applications backlog

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) reported that it has a backlog of 1,813,144 immigration applications as of December 2021.

The immigration applications backlog grew by a whopping 371,000 more applications since July 2021.

Permanent residence backlog

Immigration categoryPersons as of December 2021
Economic Class234,770
Family Class105,298
Humanitarian and Compassionate/Public Policy27,520
Permit Holders Class24
Protected Persons157,658
Grand total525,270

Temporary residence backlog grand total

TR CategoryPersons as of December 2021
Study Permit122,476
Study Permit extension24,461
Temporary Resident Permit6,726
Temporary Resident Visa403,752
Visitor Record extension60,499
Work Permit78,080
Work Permit extension123,880
Grand Total819,874

IRCC blames the immigration applications backlog on several factors, notably:

  • ongoing international travel restrictions
  • border restrictions
  • limited operational capacity overseas, and
  • inability of applicants to obtain documentation due to the effects of COVID-19

See also Canada faces a staggering immigration backlog.

IRCC making efforts on immigration applications backlog

Despite the struggle, IRCC has processed a significant number of applications during the pandemic:

  • 337,000 permanent residence applications processed between January and September 2021. It processed about 214,000 applications in all of 2020.
  • 1,500,000 temporary residence applications processed between January and September 2021. So far, this is less than the nearly 1,700,000 applications in all of 2020.
  • 134,000 Canadian citizenship applications processed between January and September 2021. Only about 80,000 applications were processed in 2020.

Canada admitted 45,038 permanent residents in the month of September 2021. This marks the highest monthly number of permanent residents on record.

Also, IRCC issued more than 163,000 work permits and processed nearly 347,000 work permit extension by end of September 2021.

Canada needs immigrants in order to recover from the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic. Consequently, Canada has committed to increasing its yearly immigration levels.

For instance, see Canada announced dramatic increases to Canada’s immigration levels for 2021 to 2023. See also Canada to spend Millions on immigration to spark economic recovery.

Critics say that the pandemic exposed many shortcomings of the immigration process. MP Jenny Kwan, the NDP’s immigration critic said IRCC must cut unnecessary red tape and bureaucracy in these unprecedented times. One of the things they could do, she said, is to automatically renew immigration applicants’ expired documents.

Requiring people to scramble to update outdated documents during a pandemic may buy Ottawa time, she noted. But it won’t solve the immigration applications backlog crisis and is going to further agonize immigration applicants.

“To this day, it is a mystery to me why the government has insisted on contacting each individual with an expired or expiring permanent resident visa to see if they still wanted to come to Canada, instead of just automatically renewing it,” Kwan said.