Canadian Immigration Law Fresh Topics

Canada’s immigration level plan, express entry changes and IRCC’s backlog

The Government of Canada has released an immigration level plan for the next three years which has been described as record-high and precedent-setting. For the economic class of permanent residents, it will target to approve 465,000 in 2023, 485,000 in 2024 and 500,000 in 2025. Meanwhile, for the family class, the IRCC will try to approve 266,210 in 2023, 281,135 in 2024 and 301,250 in 2025. 106,500 in 2023, 114,000 in 2024 and 118,000 in 2025 is the aspiration for the refugees and protected persons category. Last, with regard to the humanitarian and compassionate category, the targets are 76,305 in 2023, 76,115 in 2024 and 72,750 in 2025.[1]

Amendments are expected in the rules for the Express Entry program (EE) by Q2 of 2023. This program is the main way Canada brings in, through permanent residence, international skilled workers. It is an online system utilized to manage skilled worker programs including the Canadian Experience Class (CEC), the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP) and the Federal Skilled Trades Program (FSTP). Sean Fraser, the Minister of Immigration, stated that the existing framework for Express Entry was adjudged as not being effective at identifying foreign nationals who have the in-demand skills and qualifications that our country needs. In order to address specific labor shortages and the needs of Canada’s economy, IRCC will begin to target candidates based on their occupation, language and education. Input is being sought from stakeholders as to the details of the new format. The Express Entry program is going to gradually transition away from an emphasis on CRS scores and engage in targeted draws based on the new criteria.[2]

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic and operational pressures associated therewith, the IRCC has developed a backlog of applications. ‘Backlog’ means that applications have not been processed within service standards (i.e., the timeline, or goal, for how long it should take to process an application). The service standards differ depending on the type of application, whether the application was made in or outside Canada, and sometimes if made outside Canada from what country; for example, the service standard for a spousal or child family sponsorship class application is one year. The IRCC’s stated goal is to process 80% of applications within service standards. Reports indicate that the IRCC’s backlog is gradually decreasing. Over the course of December 2022, the number of applicants in inventory has decreased from 2.2 to 2.1 million. The main consequence of the backlog is that many applications are being delayed well beyond service standards. While the decreasing trend is promising, there is yet a long way for the IRCC to eliminate its backlog and hopefully attain its goal of meeting service standards in 80% of cases.[3]

[1] Government of Canada, “Notice – Supplementary Information for the 2023-2025 Immigration Levels Plan”:

[2] Vimal Sivakumar, “How you can expect Express Entry to change in 2023”:

[3] Edana Robitaille, “Canada’s immigration backlog continues to gradually decrease”:

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