The Status of IRCC Inventory: Over 2 Million Applications with an 800,000 Backlog

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) release the latest data that suggests that the application inventory has surpassed 2 million. As of April 30, the backlog of applications awaiting finalization was at over 800,000. IRCC defines its inventory as the pool of applications that have yet to receive a decision. In 2022, IRCC successfully processed over 5.2 million applications, double the number from the previous year.

The provided data does not account for the impact of the recent strike conducted by the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC), which took place between April 19 and May 1, 2023. Approximately 100,000 applications were left unprocessed during the strike. Nonetheless, Immigration Minister Sean Fraser assured the public that IRCC would swiftly recover from the disruption and address any resulting backlog.

Service Standards

IRCC has set a target to process 80% of applications within its established service standards. These standards represent the expected timeframe for application processing, separate from the actual time taken to process applications. Applications that fail to meet the service standard for their specific type are considered part of the backlog.

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Service standards differ depending on the nature of the application. For example, Express Entry program applications have a standard processing time of six months, while family class sponsorship applications aim for completion within 12 months. Temporary residence applications, such as work or study permits, typically have a processing time ranging from 60 to 120 days.

As of April 30, the data shows that the inventory for permanent residence applications reached 632,000. Among these, 322,000 applications (51%) are classified as part of the backlog, failing to meet IRCC’s service standards.


Analyzing the different application categories, the backlog rate for Federal High Skilled Workers (Express Entry) applications exceeds the target of 80%, currently standing at 17%. Similarly, Express Entry applications for Provincial Nominee Program candidates still face a backlog rate of 28%, higher than the targeted 20%. Applications for spouses, partners, and children of permanent residence candidates have a backlog rate of 23%.

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In terms of citizenship applications, IRCC reported an inventory of 294,000 applications, of which 221,000 (75%) were processed within the service standards. In August 2022, 30% of citizenship applications did not meet the service standards, but as of April 2023, the rate has improved to 25%.

Regarding temporary residence, the backlog comprises 414,000 applications out of a total inventory of 1,080,000. Notably, 50% of temporary resident (visitor) visas are currently not processed within the targeted service standard. Minister Fraser acknowledged that the strike impacted this area, and it might take longer than anticipated to process all visitor visas. Study permits performed well, with 82% of applications meeting the service standard, while work permits experienced a decline to 22% not meeting the standard in April.

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During warmer months, it is observed that a higher number of temporary residence visas are being issued. The warmer weather attracts more visitors to Canada, and international students submit their applications ahead of their autumn programs. Additionally, there is usually an increase in the number of seasonal workers in Canada during this time, necessitating work permits. The provided data sheds light on the current state of IRCC’s inventory, emphasizing both the progress made in processing applications and the existing backlog. Despite the challenges posed by the recent strike, IRCC is committed to addressing the backlog efficiently and continuing its efforts to meet the established service standards.

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