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In 2023, Canada admitted 471,550 new permanent residents

471,550 new permanent residents

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Recent figures from Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) reveal that Canada surpassed its projected target for the number of permanent residents it aimed to admit in 2023.

Based on the latest IRCC backlog data, the department admitted 471,550 new permanent residents in 2023. This marks a notable increase of 33,950 compared to the previous year’s total of 437,600.

This figure exceeds the target outlined in the Immigration Levels Plan 2023-2025, which aimed to welcome 465,000 permanent residents. The department’s admissions encompassed candidates from various programs, including Express Entry initiatives, the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP), as well as their accompanying spouses, partners, and children.

IRCC also disclosed statistics regarding the number of temporary residence applications it processed. It’s important to note that these figures represent the total number of final decisions made on candidate applications, encompassing both approvals and rejections.

Work Permits: 

In total, 1,646,300 applications were concluded, including extensions, marking an increase of 503,330 compared to 2022. This figure encompasses applications processed through both the Temporary Foreign Worker Program and the International Mobility Program.

Study permits: 

In 2023, IRCC finalized 1,089,600 study permits, including extensions, representing a notable increase compared to 2022 when 917,900 final decisions were made. This marks a year-over-year difference of 171,700.

Additionally, between April 1 and December 31, 2023, 293,000 newcomers obtained Canadian citizenship, showing an increase of 13,900 compared to the corresponding period in 2022, which saw 279,100 individuals becoming citizens.

Immigration Levels Plan

The number of new permanent residents admitted in 2023 suggests that IRCC is progressing towards achieving its target of 485,000 in 2024.

Looking ahead, IRCC intends to welcome 500,000 new permanent residents in both 2025 and 2026.

Each year, IRCC unveils the Immigration Levels Plan, outlining targets for permanent resident admissions to Canada for the subsequent three years. However, it does not establish targets for temporary residents such as those holding work or study permits.

While IRCC does not impose caps on the number of permanent residents admitted or on the processing of their applications, it introduced a cap on study permits on January 22, 2024. IRCC announced its intention to issue only 360,000 new study permits for the year, although there are no restrictions on renewals or new permits for graduate-level students.

Subsequently, on February 1, the department issued ministerial instructions indicating that it would restrict the processing of study permit applications to 606,250.

IRCC’s current backlog

By December 31, 2023, IRCC held 2,221,100 applications in inventory, with 949,500 classified as part of the backlog.

IRCC is mandated to process 80% of immigration applications within specified service standards, which dictate the expected processing time for each application type. For instance, Express Entry applications typically have a service standard of six months, while family class sponsorship applications may take up to 12 months.

Applications that exceed these service standards are categorized as backlog.

In 2022, IRCC concluded over 5.2 million applications across all lines of business.

Permanent residents

Of the overall inventory of applications, IRCC currently manages 702,000 permanent residence applications, with a backlog of 308,900. This indicates that 44% of all permanent residency applications in the inventory have not been processed within the established service standards.

Temporary residents

As of December 31, 2023, IRCC reported a total of 1,257,000 applications in inventory for work permits, study permits, and temporary resident (visitor) visas, with 590,800 applications considered backlog.

Further analysis reveals that:

61% of visitor visa applications were classified as backlog.

For study permit applications, 18% were in backlog.

Work permit applications showed that 49% were also categorized as backlog.

Citizenship applications

In December, the inventory of citizenship applications totaled 262,100. Among these, 49,800 applications, equivalent to 19%, were classified as part of the backlog.

How IRCC is working to reduce the backlog

The department emphasizes that recent measures have been effective in reducing the backlog. Prioritizing the processing of work permit applications for healthcare and agriculture workers, along with the implementation of Canada’s tech talent strategy, has facilitated expedited processing for many foreign workers in high-demand tech occupations.

Additionally, the introduction of an online portal for certain permanent residence applications, along with online application status trackers, has streamlined processing times.

Furthermore, IRCC has introduced an online process for citizenship applications for individuals over 18 years old. Applicants now have the option to complete citizenship tests online and participate in virtual citizenship ceremonies, further enhancing efficiency in the citizenship application process.


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