IRCC inventory stands at 2 million applications

Edana Robitaille
Published: May 27, 2023

Data from Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) shows that the backlog of applications in inventory, across all lines of business, is now just slightly over 800,000.

The numbers are current as of April 30. There are 2,006,000 million applications in inventory in total.

IRCC defines its inventory as applications that have not been finalized. The department says it finalized more than 5.2 million applications in 2022, double the number it finalized in 2021.

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The latest inventory data does not reflect the full period of the recent labour disruption caused by the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) strike that lasted 12 days between April 19 and May 1, 2023.

During the final week of the strike, Immigration Minister Sean Fraser told reporters that there were approximately 100,000 applications not processed throughout the strike that otherwise would have been but said that it would not take long for IRCC to get back on track and process any resulting backlog.

Service standards

IRCC strives to process 80% of applications received, from all lines of business, within service standards.

Service standards are the expected timeline or goal that IRCC sets for itself in terms of how long it should take for the department to process an application. The service standard is different from the actual amount of time that IRCC takes to process applications.

An application is considered in backlog if it does not meet the service standard for the type of application.

Service standards vary depending on the type of application. For example, applications submitted through an Express Entry program have a standard of six months, family class sponsorship applications are 12 months and temporary residence applications can range from 60-120 days depending on if it is a work or study permit.

Permanent residence

The April 30 data shows that there were 632,000 applications in inventory for permanent residence. Of these, 51% or 322,000 were considered backlog, or not meeting service standards.

The data further breaks it down and shows IRCC’s projected backlogs vs. actual backlogs for the different types of applications.

The total backlog of applications for Federal High Skilled Workers (Express Entry) stands at 17%, which exceeds IRCC’s goal of processing 80% of applications within service standards.

The backlog for Express Entry applications for Provincial Nominee Program candidates is still higher than the targeted 20% and as of April, 28% of applications were not processed within service standards.

Applications for spouses, and partners and children of permanent residence candidates sat at 23% backlog.

Citizenship

IRCC reports that of the 294,000 citizenship applications in inventory, 221,000, or 75%, have been processed within service standards.

August 2022 data shows that 30% of citizenship applications did not meet service standards and as of April 2023, IRCC has been gradually closing the gap to the current 25% not meeting the service standard.

Temporary residence

The backlog of temporary residence applications stands at 414,000 applications, or 38%, of the 1,080,000 applications in inventory.

The data shows that 50% of temporary resident (visitor) visas are not being processed within the targeted service standard. Minister Fraser has said that this is one area that was impacted by the strike and that it could take longer than the department anticipated to process all visitor visas.

The number of study permits processed exceeded the service standard with 82% of applications finalized in time. Work permits dropped below 20% in March, but they climbed back to 22% not meeting the standard in April.

It is usual for there to be a higher number of temporary residence visas in the spring and summer months. Visitors to Canada from abroad increase with the warmer weather and international students are submitting their applications before starting their programs in the coming autumn.

There is also typically an uptick in the number of seasonal workers in Canada at this time of year who require work permits.

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