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Ask Tito Mike by Michael Scott  

Immigration backlog

reaches 1.8 million applications

by Michael Scott

Immigration practitioners and applicants alike have grown frustrated with the long delays in the processing of immigration applications during the pandemic. If you are thinking it’s only me, then step back and examine the report published in CIC News. The news outlet was able to obtain accurate information about the number of applications in IRCC’s inventory as of October 27, 2021, and it confirms the bad news we have grown accustomed to over the past two years.

A roundup of their findings shows that 548,000 permanent residence applications, which include economic, family, refugee, and humanitarian class applicants, are currently in the backlog of nearly 1.8 million immigration applications. The total number also includes 776,000 temporary residence applications, including study permits, work permits, temporary resident visas, and visitor extensions. Citizenship applications in the backlog comprise 458,000 of the 1,792,000 total applications in the inventory. The IRCC numbers show that the reported backlog has grown by nearly 350,000 since July.

An Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship departmental spokesman admitted that the backlog is something that applicants are now facing, “Ongoing international travel restrictions, border restrictions, limited operational capacity overseas and the inability on the part of clients to obtain documentation due to COVID-19 have created barriers within the processing continuum. This hinders IRCC’s ability to finalize applications, creating delays that are outside IRCC’s control.”

The spokesperson also acknowledged that the department itself has added to the delays faced by applicants: “Despite our effects, we know that some applicants have experienced considerable wait times with the processing of their applications, and we continue to work as hard as possible to reduce processing times. We thank them for their patience and understanding at this moment, and we look forward to welcome them to Canada.” One has only to thank the department for reducing the much-reported backlog of Confirmation of Permanent Residence document holders and welcoming them to Canada in 2021.

There is also positive news on the processing of applications during the pandemic. Between January and September 2021, 337,000 applications for permanent residence have been processed. In the same period, 1.5 million temporary residence applications have been processed compared to nearly 1,.7 million in 2020. In the same January to September 2021 period, 134,000 citizenship applications have been processed, which represents an improvement over the 80,000 processed in 2020. The processing has increased but the current numbers also include submissions during the same operational year – more out but more coming in.

It is important for departmental spokespersons to disclose real numbers, current backlogs, and to acknowledge their efforts to address the issue. We, as Canadians, are often defined by our understanding and patience. These are some of our most admirable traits and, hopefully, things will improve in the short term as IRCC adjusts to the reality of achieving a balance between protecting the country from the pandemic and practicing due diligence and growing the economy, unifying families, and responding to international human rights needs. As a country, we are so much more than merely an engine of economic growth. The country has multiple immigration objectives and a responsibility to attend to them all.

Michael Scott is a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant (RCIC, R525678) who has 30 years of experience with Immigration Canada and the Manitoba Provincial Nominee Program. He currently works as a licensed consultant with Immigration Connexion International Ltd. Contact him at 204-691-1166 or 204-227-0292. E-mail:

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