Immigration Application Inventory and Backlog: Insights and Trends Revealed by IRCC

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The latest data released by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) reveals a notable increase in the number of applications in inventory since April. As of May 31, the inventory count reached 2,248,000 applications across all lines of business, surpassing the 2,006,000 applications recorded on April 30. Additionally, the backlog of applications, which refers to those not meeting service standards, rose from just over 800,000 to 820,000 during the same period.

Applications in inventory represent submissions made to IRCC for a decision that are yet to be finalized. In the year 2022, IRCC processed over 5.2 million applications, indicating the scale of immigration activities in Canada.

Several factors contribute to the rise in the backlog of applications, including the recent labour disruption caused by the Public Service Alliance of Canada strike that occurred between April 19 and May 1. As a result of the strike, approximately 100,000 applications were unable to be processed by IRCC, which would have been processed under normal circumstances.

Furthermore, the summer months typically witness an increase in applications for visitor visas, study permits, and work permits in Canada. This influx of applications further contributes to the backlog and increased inventory levels.

IRCC strives to process 80% of all applications within service standards. The service standards vary based on the type and complexity of the application. For instance, IRCC aims to process all permanent resident (PR) applications through Express Entry within six months, while family class sponsorship applications are targeted to be processed within 12 months. Temporary residence permits, such as those for work or study, carry service standards ranging from 60 to 120 days.

As of May 31, the data reveals that out of the total 640,000 permanent residence applications in inventory, 52% (332,000) were being processed within service standards, while 48% (308,000) were not. The number of PR applications in May only saw a slight increase of 8,000 compared to the April 30 data, which showed 632,000 permanent resident applications in inventory. Furthermore, the backlog of PR applications decreased from 51% (322,000) on April 30 to 48% (308,000) on May 31.

The actual numbers for PR applications in backlog were lower than the projected figures. IRCC estimated that in May 2023, 20% of all PR applications through the Federal High Skilled Program (Express Entry programs) would be in backlog, but the actual percentage was 15%. Similarly, applications for spouses and partners of Canadian citizens and permanent residents were lower than projected at 20%, which indicates a reduction of three percentage points compared to the April data. However, the number of Provincial Nominee Program applicants (through Express Entry) slightly exceeded the projected 28% backlog, currently standing at 30%.

Regarding citizenship applications, the most recent data shows that there are 308,000 applications in inventory. Out of these, 73% (225,000) were being processed within service standards, while 27% were not. When compared to the April 30 data, which had 294,000 citizenship applications in inventory, the percentage of applications being processed within service standards decreased from 75% to 73%. The number of processed citizenship applications also fell slightly below IRCC’s projection, standing at 23% instead of the anticipated 24%.

Temporary resident visas comprise a significant portion of applications in inventory and include temporary resident (visitor) visas, study permits, and work permits. Between April 30 and May 31, the number of temporary resident applications rose from 1,080,000 to 1.3 million applications in inventory. Out of these, 871,000 were being processed within service standards, while 429,000 were not.

IRCC managed to exceed the projected number of study permits processed for May, with a processing rate of 17% instead of the anticipated 15%. However, temporary resident permits and work permits were not processed at the projected rates. Temporary resident permits had a backlog of 45%, falling short of the projected 42%, while work permits had 27% of applications not meeting service standards, compared to the anticipated 24%.

It is worth noting that approximately 72% of work permits in the May inventory are attributed to the Canada-Ukraine Authorization for Emergency Travel (CUAET) program. This program enables displaced Ukrainians to visit Canada and simultaneously apply for work permits without any fee. Between March 2022 and June 2, 2023, IRCC received 1,059,154 applications for the CUAET program.

In conclusion, the recent data from IRCC highlights an increase in the number of applications in inventory and the backlog of applications since April. Various factors, including labor disruptions and the seasonal surge in applications, contribute to these trends. While some categories, such as permanent residence applications, show improvements in backlog reduction, other categories, such as work permits, experience a slight increase in the backlog. IRCC continues to work towards processing applications within service standards, aiming to address the challenges posed by the increased inventory and backlog.

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