RECORD YEAR – backlogs during COVID-19 pandemic reduced by nearly half a million applications in 4 months

Immigration is critical to Canada’s economy and our communities, and it is a large part of our identity as Canadians. Newcomers helped build our country, were on the front lines as we battled the pandemic, and remain key to our success. Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has been taking steady action to strengthen Canada’s immigration system—reducing wait times, and modernizing its services so they work better for everyone.

Canada’s Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, the Honourable Sean Fraser, highlighted progress that has been made this year, in reducing backlogs of applications that have been in IRCC’s inventories beyond its service standards.

Record year for processing

IRCC has been working hard since Aug 2022 to reduce its overall inventory by nearly half a million applications. It is setting the bar higher and higher for processing. At the end of November, IRCC had processed approximately 4.8 million applications—nearly twice the 2.5 million processed during the same period last year.

To help strengthen our immigration system, IRCC has digitized applications, hired and trained new employees, streamlined processes, and harnessed automation technologies to increase processing efficiency while protecting the safety and security of Canadians. The department remains on track to meet its goal to process 80% of new applications within service standards for most programs and continues to make strides in improving processing, resulting in shorter wait times for our clients.

Temporary residence: bringing more visitors, students and workers to Canada

For study permit processing, Canada is on pace to set a new record this year. As of November 30 this year, IRCC had processed over 670,000 study permits, compared to more than 500,000 during the same time period last year. As a result, most new study permits are now being processed within the 60-day service standard.

Work permit processing also saw vast improvements, with nearly 700,000 work permits processed by November 30, compared to about 223,000 during the same period in 2019, before the pandemic.

IRCC continues to reduce backlogs and process visitor visas faster. Every month, Canada is now processing more visitor visa applications than it did prior to the pandemic. In November 2022, over 260,000 visitor visas were processed. By contrast, the monthly average in 2019 was about 180,000 applications.

Permanent Residence Applications

After another record year in 2022, Canada remains on track to reach its target of more than 431,000 new permanent residents.

IRCC has modernized services and added support for permanent residence programs to better serve its clients. Now, all new spousal sponsorship applications are processed within 12 months and new Express Entry applications within 6 months. Permanent residents will expect shorter wait times when renewing their permanent resident cards as IRCC has reduced its pandemic backlog of applications for card renewals by 99%.


IRCC expects a record number of new Canadian citizens in the coming year, with approximately 251,000 new citizens welcomed from April to November—surpassing the total number of new Canadian citizens for the last fiscal year. As a result, more than 70% of applications in the citizenship inventory are now within service standards.

Interested in knowing more? We are here to help. You can contact us here.

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