Canada Broke Immigration Record in 2023 with 471,550 New Permanent Residents

09 February, 2024

Canada Broke Immigration Record in 2023 with 471,550 New Permanent Residents

Newly released statistics from Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) reveal that Canada surpassed its intended quota for welcoming permanent residents in 2023.
The latest IRCC backlog data indicates that the department admitted 471,550 new permanent residents in 2023, marking a notable increase from the 437,600 admitted in 2022.
This figure exceeds the target outlined in the Immigration Levels Plan 2023-2025, which aimed to admit 465,000 permanent residents. The department assessed candidates from various streams, including the Express Entry programs, the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP), as well as their accompanying spouses, partners, and children.
The Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) also released data on the finalization of temporary residence applications, encompassing both approvals and rejections.
For work permits, a total of 1,646,300 applications were finalized, including extensions, reflecting an increase of 503,330 compared to 2022. These figures encompass applications processed through both the Temporary Foreign Worker Program and the International Mobility Program.
Regarding study permits, IRCC finalized 1,089,600 permits, including extensions, in 2023. This represents a significant uptick from the 917,900 final decisions made in 2022, reflecting a year-over-year difference of 171,700.
Additionally, IRCC's data reveals that 293,000 newcomers obtained Canadian citizenship between April 1 and December 31, 2023. This marks an increase of 13,900 compared to the same period in 2022, during which 279,100 individuals acquired citizenship.


Immigration Level Plan


Last year, Canada aimed to welcome 465,000 new permanent residents, predominantly through economic avenues such as Express Entry and the Provincial Nominee Program. However, the country surpassed expectations, admitting nearly 471,550 new permanent residents.
Based on the recently released preliminary data from Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), we've compiled the most noteworthy insights regarding immigration to Canada in 2023.
The influx of new permanent residents in 2023 indicates that IRCC is progressing towards achieving its target of 485,000 for 2024.
Looking ahead, IRCC aims to welcome 500,000 new permanent residents in both 2025 and 2026.
Annually, IRCC publishes the Immigration Levels Plan for the forthcoming three years, outlining targets for permanent resident admissions to Canada. Notably, this plan does not establish targets for temporary residents like those holding work or study permits.
IRCC does not impose a ceiling on the number of permanent residents admitted to Canada or on the processing of their applications. However, on January 22, IRCC implemented a cap specifically on the issuance of study permits for 2024. The department announced its intention to issue only 360,000 new study permits, while emphasizing that there is no cap on permit renewals or on new permits for graduate-level students.
Subsequently, on February 1, the department released ministerial instructions stipulating a limit on the number of study permit applications processed, setting the figure at 606,250.


Top provinces for Canadian immigrants


In 2023, Ontario retained its position as the province that welcomed the highest number of new permanent residents (PRs), followed by British Columbia and Alberta. Notably, Quebec experienced a decline in its ranking, moving from second to fourth place among the provinces compared to 2022.


Top cities for Canadian immigrants


Toronto emerged as the leading city for new Canadian permanent residents (PRs) in the past year, with approximately 135,865 individuals settling in the city.
Subsequent to Toronto were Vancouver, Montreal, Calgary, and Edmonton, in terms of the number of new permanent residents.


Express Entry


Express Entry stands as one of Canada's primary immigration pathways, facilitating the acquisition of permanent residency for skilled workers.
Under Express Entry, applications are managed for various programs, including the Canadian Experience Class (CEC), the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSW), the Federal Skilled Trades Program (FST), and select programs within the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP).
In the preceding year, 120,770 new permanent residents immigrated through Express Entry. The majority entered through the PNP, with nearly 43,290 individuals, followed by the CEC (41,865) and FSW (35,500). A minimal number, only 110 individuals, obtained permanent residency through the FST.
Please note that these figures are preliminary and subject to change. Official statistics will be released upon the publication of the 2023 Express Entry report by Canada.


IRCC's current backlog


By December 31, 2023, Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) had a total of 2,221,100 applications in its inventory, out of which 949,500 were categorized as backlog.
IRCC is tasked with processing 80% of immigration applications within service standards, which denote the department's mandated processing times for applications.
These service standards differ based on the type of application. For instance, Express Entry applications are expected to be processed within six months, while family class sponsorship applications may take up to 12 months.
Applications that exceed the designated service standards are classified as being in backlog.
In the course of 2022, IRCC concluded over 5.2 million applications across all operational domains.
1. Permanent residency
Regarding permanent residency, within the overall application inventory, IRCC holds 702,000 applications for permanent residence, with a backlog of 308,900. This signifies that 44% of all permanent residency applications currently in inventory have not been processed within the established service standards.
2. Temporary residents
According to the data, there were 1,257,000 applications in inventory for work permits, study permits, and temporary resident (visitor) visas. Among these, 590,800 applications are categorized as backlog.
Further analysis by IRCC reveals that as of December 31, 2023, 61% of visitor visa applications were in backlog. In contrast, only 18% of study permit applications and 49% of work permit applications were in backlog.
3. Citizenship applications
By December 2023, the inventory of citizenship applications amounted to 262,100. Within this inventory, 49,800 applications, constituting 19%, were identified as part of the backlog.
If you're considering moving to Canada but uncertain about which program you qualify for, you can determine your eligibility for free.
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