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The immigration backlog in Canada currently runs at 1.8 million individuals, but there are hints of progress.

FSWP applications are being processed more quickly at IRCC. In recent months, the permanent residency, study permit, and citizenship inventories have improved.

As of February 1, the IRCC's inventory stood at 1.8 million people, however there are signs of improvement in immigration, study permit, and citizenship applications.

Through a media request, CIC News got the most recent Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) inventory statistics. Future citizens, permanent residents, foreign students, temporary employees, and visitors all have applications in the backlog.

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When these categories are added together, the total number of people awaiting judgments is 1,815,628. The backlog was at 1,813,144 people in December. The discrepancy suggests that the backlog has grown by 2,484 people in 48 days, a 0.1 percent rise.

The backlog looks to be slowing down, compared to the 1% rise seen between October and December. In October, 1,791,936 applications remained in IRCC's backlog. It was previously estimated by the Toronto Star to be about 1,448,000.

A word on data reporting

The numbers below show the number of people who are currently awaiting IRCC processing.

The data from February 1 is being reported by CIC News precisely as it was given by IRCC. The updated data released by IRCC does not include a breakdown of IRCC's inventory under each of its economic, family, refugee, and humanitarian class programmes, unlike prior data received by CIC News.

Since October, the backlog of permanent residents has decreased by almost 29,000 people.

Since October, the permanent dwelling inventory has shrunk by 29,165 applications.

The economic class has seen the most progress, with a fall of over 25,000 people in inventory, followed by the family class, which has seen a decrease of over 9,200 people in the backlog.

Permanent residence backlog reduced since December/

If we merely look at the progress achieved since December, we can observe that the backlog of immigrants has shrunk by 6,240 people.

Since December, the economic class's inventory has decreased by over 4,200 people, while the family class's inventory has decreased by roughly 3,100 people.

IRCC currently processes an average of 800 FSWP applications every week, up from 150 per week previously.

The IRCC is starting to handle Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP) applications more quickly.

CIC News reported in early December that IRCC was processing 600 applications per month on average. This is significant since the FSWP has been Canada's principal skilled worker immigration programme since 1967, and Canada has eliminated travel limitations on all immigrants as of June 2021, providing IRCC an extra incentive to begin processing more FSWP applications in principle.

Last year, however, IRCC processed a modest amount of FSWP applications every month in order to focus on landing as many in-Canada applicants as possible in order to meet the government's objective of landing 401,000 immigrants by 2021.

According to the most recent statistics, IRCC is beginning to prioritise more FSWP applications, since the FSWP inventory has decreased by over 4,800 people since December.

This indicates that, during the last six weeks, IRCC has processed an average of 800 FSWP applications each week, compared to only 150 throughout the first half of 2021.

The fact that IRCC processing slows down in December owing to the winter holidays may also give FSWP candidates more optimism. This means that IRCC will be in a better position to continue processing FSWP applications at a faster rate until 2022.

The backlog of applications for the Canadian Experience Class (CEC) has also greatly reduced, which is not surprising. In October, there were 48,225 people, but by December, that number had dropped to 24,675. It's presently around 15,100 people, down from over 9,500 in December.

This means that the CEC inventory will be erased by IRCC in the near future. The low number of CEC applicants is due to IRCC prioritising their applications in 2021 in order to meet its goal of 401,000 newcomers. Furthermore, starting September, IRCC has temporarily halted Express Entry invites to CEC candidates in order to minimise inventory and enhance Express Entry application processing times.

Minister Sean Fraser has frequently said that the stop in Express Entry invitations to both CEC and FSWP applicants (which has been in place since December 2020) is only temporary, and that invitations will resume once IRCC is more satisfied with its inventory level.

The Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) and the Caregiver Program have been the key drivers of inventory expansion among economic class candidates since December. Both IRCC and the provinces and territories continued to issue invitations to PNP applicants during the pandemic to support the economic requirements of Canada's regions, which explains the increase in PNP inventory. PNP applicants are being invited to Express Entry on a bi-weekly basis, generally on Wednesday, and provinces are still holding PNP drawings at regular intervals, ranging from once a week to several times a month to once every several months, depending on the province.

The reopening of two IRCC Caregiver trial streams in January explains the increase in the Caregiver Program inventory. The two streams each take up to 2,750 applications, and because to their popularity, they tend to fill up quickly once IRCC reopens them at the beginning of each year.

Since October, the number of applications for family classes has decreased by 9,200.

Since October, the number of people applying for family classes has decreased by almost 9,200. The Parents and Grandparents Program has contributed significantly to the decline. IRCC has organised a PGP lottery in recent years, followed by a timeframe for invitees to submit full PGP applications. The rest of the year is spent by IRCC processing the applications before a fresh intake is opened. The PGP 2022 hasn't been released yet, but we do know that IRCC's aim for 2022 is to enrol 23,500 immigrants in the programme.

The inventory of wives, partners, and children has decreased somewhat since October, dropping by roughly 1,700 people. One reason for IRCC's difficulty in reducing its inventory is that it continues to receive applications on a rolling basis.

According to the IRCC, the processing time for new spousal applications has been restored to 12 months, and the agency has also just launched a new webpage that allows spousal and child sponsors and applicants to track the status of their applications.

Since October, the number of people seeking temporary housing has increased by roughly 73,000.

Since October, the study permit inventory has decreased by approximately 9,600 people, while the overall temporary residence inventory has increased by almost 73,000 people.

The rise can also be attributed to IRCC's continued acceptance of temporary residency applications on a rolling basis. Throughout the epidemic, demand for various types of temporary housing has skyrocketed.

Work permit demand is high, for example, due to labour shortages in Canada, a big number of overseas students transferring to Post-Graduation Work Permits (PGWP), and current work permit holders requesting extensions on their status in Canada. The temporary suspension in CEC invites has resulted in more CEC applicants trying to prolong their temporary stay in Canada until they can file an immigration application, which is a substantial development in recent months.

Overall, during the epidemic, Canada has given additional temporary residency laws to allow individuals in Canada to remain in legal status so that they can seek for permanent residence, contribute to the economy, and avoid the burden of returning home.

The increase in study permit inventory might be explained by January being one of the busiest months of the year for new foreign students arriving in Canada in time for the winter academic session to begin.

Increases in those filing Temporary Resident Visa (TRV), work permit, and extension applications have been among the most noticeable developments since December. One possible explanation for the increase in TRV applications is that, as of September 2021, Canada eliminated all tourist travel restrictions. As previously stated, the increase in work permit and extension applications can be attributed to a combination of the tighter labour market in Canada and the increased number of temporary residents in the country during the epidemic.

The number of those waiting for citizenship has fallen by 20,000.

On December 31, 2021, the IRCC reported a backlog of around 448,000 citizenship applications. There were over 468,000 citizenship applications in the inventory on October 31st of last year. In just 61 days, 20,000 people applied for citizenship.

In its email to CIC News, a spokesperson from IRCC said in all of 2021, Canada processed more than 206,000 citizenship applications. Compared to 2020 when IRCC processed 80,000 citizenship application 

The IRCC's initiatives to enhance processing times and customer satisfaction

Minister Fraser indicated on January 31 that Canada intends to make 147,000 permanent residency final decisions in the first quarter of 2022, more than double the number from the same period in 2021. Fraser also stated that the IRCC's $85 million budget will allow processing service standards for study, employment, and permanent residence card renewals to return to normal by the end of the year.

About 500 new processing personnel have been employed, applications have been digitised, and work has been transferred across IRCC locations throughout the world. Since public health precautions have curtailed in-person services, the Immigration and Refugee Commission (IRCC) has moved several paper-based immigration operations online.

Within the next several days, the Minister will release Canada's new Immigration Levels Plan 2022-2024, which will give us a better idea of which permanent residence applications IRCC will prioritise in the future.