Skip to content
ircc processing audit

IRCC Processing & Backlog audit made 6 new recommendations

Last Updated On 19 October 2023, 2:57 PM EDT (Toronto Time)

An audit of IRCC processing and immigration backlogs by the Office of the Auditor General (OAG) finds that large backlogs of applications remained across all permanent resident programs, despite recent efforts to improve processing times.

Even though the majority of the programs audited reflect improvements in processing times in 2022, most applications still had processing durations longer than the IRCC service standards.

According to the report, those applying for refugee programs were the most affected, with the majority of those seeking permanent residence in Canada still having to wait a lengthy period for Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada to process their applications.

While overseas spouses or common-law partners waited an average of 15 months to be reunited with their partners in Canada, privately sponsored refugees were typically left waiting 30 months for a decision.

The report made the below-listed recommendations to deal with the Canadian immigration backlog and improve the processing of permanent resident applications.

Set Achievable and Reliable Service Standards

Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada should set attainable and dependable service standards for processing applications for permanent residence, particularly for its refugee programs, so that applicants are aware of the expected timeframes for a decision.

All applications for permanent residence should also include online information on anticipated processing times, taking into account the quantity and age of applications already in the system.

Address Differential Wait Times

In order to facilitate prompt processing for all applicants across permanent residence programs and stay within the yearly admission targets set by the Immigration Levels Plan, the IRCC should act immediately to identify and remedy unequal wait times.

Additionally, it must devise and execute a strategy to directly gather racial and ethnocultural data from applicants to rectify any discrepancies in wait times depending on race.

Priority Processing of Old Backlogged Applications

Backlog applications should be examined by Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada in order to determine and address processing delays that are under its control, such as waiting for officer actions or follow-up.

In addition, as the agency strives to meet the annual admission goals established by the Immigration Levels Plan, it should give priority to completing older backlogged applications.

Uniform Allocation of Workloads Among IRCC Offices

Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada should match allocated workloads with available resources to enhance uniformity in application processing timeframes throughout its offices.

It should also provide accurate information on available capacity within its offices to support these decisions.

In order to clear up application backlogs that have built up in some offices with limited capacity, it needs to take urgent action.

Assess Automation Tools Processing Time Discrepancies

In order to ensure prompt processing for all applicants, Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada must assess any discrepancies in processing times resulting from the use of automated decision-making tools.

Furthermore, IRCC should make every effort to minimize these differences. This may involve reallocating adequate resources to applications that require manual processing.

Online Portals For Refugee Programs

Online application portals for IRCC’s refugee programs should be put into place as soon as possible, similar to other permanent residency programs.

The immigration department should also finish off its Digital Platform Modernization project.

What is the basis of this audit?

The Office of Auditor General (OAG) examined processing times and backlog in 8 programs that account for most of the permanent resident applications finalized every year, as listed below, and made the aforementioned recommendations:

Total economic class applications finalized – 331,217

Programs we examinedNumber finalized in 2022
Federal Skilled Worker Program (Express Entry)56,232
Quebec-Selected Skilled Worker Program48,652
Provincial Nominee Program (Non‑Express Entry)60,383
Provincial Nominee Program (Express Entry)63,805

Total family class applications finalized – 125,700

Programs we examinedNumber finalized in 2022
Overseas Sponsored Spouse or Common‑Law Partner Program44,239
Sponsored Spouse or Common‑Law Partner in Canada Program37,618

Total refugee and humanitarian class applications finalized – 110,245

Programs we examinedNumber finalized in 2022
Government-Assisted Refugees Program16,354
Private Sponsorship of Refugees Program31,494

Under the direction of Principal Carol McCalla, a multidisciplinary team from the Office of the Auditor General of Canada concluded this audit on September 1, 2023.

The audit covers the period from January 1 to December 31, 2022, but the auditor team also examined certain matters outside of these dates, including 2020 and 2021 strategies as well as the processing work it did into 2023 on certain files.

Response of Immigration Minister Marc Miller

“On behalf of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), I welcome the Office of the Auditor General’s report on processing applications for permanent residence. The audit was conducted in 2022 and examined how IRCC processes applications as well as methods for addressing backlogs, which highlight critical aspects of our nation’s immigration policies and procedures.

“Immigration is critical to Canada’s long-term success, and we recognize the importance of ensuring that our systems operate efficiently. In recent years, IRCC has prioritized improving processing times and client service to build a stronger immigration system. Our goal is to process 80% of all applications within service standards, and we are making consistent progress towards that objective. In August 2022, IRCC also began publishing monthly data to inform the public about ongoing efforts to reduce application backlogs.

“This year, Canada has already welcomed 339,000 permanent residents as of August 31, up from 310,000 during the same period in 2022. Since the audit was conducted, IRCC has continued reducing its backlogs by digitizing applications, hiring and training new staff, and harnessing automation technologies to increase processing capacity and efficiency.

“Many lines of business are now back or close to being back to service standards. As of September 2023, the department has processed over 80% of federal high-skilled applications within service standards that were received since July 2022. As well, more than 80% of spouses, partners and children (except for Quebec) applications received since April 2022 have been processed within service standards. We are also committed to monitoring and evaluating our use of technology to help process applications.

“IRCC is on track to open up the online Permanent Residence Portal to private refugee sponsor groups and some of our government-assisted refugee referral partners later this fall. The portal will be a secure and convenient way for these groups to submit their applications and referrals. These actions directly respond to some of the areas of concern in the report.

“I am optimistic, considering the progress made by IRCC despite all the challenges it faced over the past few years. I want to recognize the dedication of IRCC’s employees, whose efforts are a crucial component of application processing. The Office of the Auditor General’s report is a good reminder that we have the responsibility to deliver on our promises and continue to ensure Canada is a welcoming and inclusive destination for people seeking to build a new life.”

What is the latest Canada immigration backlog or IRCC processing update?

Canada Immigration Backlog stood at 844,700 as per the latest official IRCC data updated on September 26, 2023.

Overall processing inventory stood at 2,198,700 for all the citizenship, permanent residency, and temporary residency applications.

Application TypeOverall Processing 
Inventory As of August 31
Overall Processing 
Inventory As of July 31
Permanent Residence646,000631,5002.30%
Temporary Residence1,264,0001,346,200-6.11%
Canada immigration backlog and IRCC processing latest update


Something went wrong. Please refresh the page and/or try again.

canada immigration news, immigration news canada, new ircc update, new ircc news,