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IRCC Application Backlog Shows Signs of Decrease Despite Increased Application Numbers

IRCC Application Backlog
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The Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) application backlog has been slowly shrinking, according to the latest data released. As of July 31, the total number of applications stood at 2,274,600, with a backlog of 802,600. This shows a decrease compared to the figures from May 31, when there were 820,000 backlogged applications out of 2,248,000.

This development is noteworthy considering the summer months usually experience a surge in applications for study permits, work permits, and temporary resident visas. The IRCC categorizes applications in inventory as those that have been submitted but not yet finalized. An application is marked as backlogged if it has not been processed and finalized within service standards.

Service standards are the average duration for processing an application and may vary depending on the type of application. For instance, Express Entry applications for permanent residence should be processed within six months, while study permits should be completed within 60 days.

The IRCC aims to process at least 80% of all applications within service standards while maintaining a backlog of no more than 20%.

In 2022 alone, the IRCC managed to finalize over 5.2 million applications across all their lines of business. The most recent data indicates that out of the current 631,500 permanent resident (PR) applications in inventory, 290,500 or roughly 46% are considered backlogged. In comparison, May’s data showed a slightly higher backlog in PR applications at around 48%.

The IRCC also provides projections for specific categories of PR applications:

  1. Federal High Skilled Workers: The backlog stands at 16% rather than the projected 20% for July 2023. However, this is up from 15% in May.
  2. Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) Express Entry applications: There’s no change, with 30% of these applications considered backlogged, which is higher than the target of 20% and 8% more than the projections.
  3. PR applications for spouses, partners, and children: The backlog has dropped to 18%, lower than May’s figure and the projected 24%.

Regarding citizenship applications, the data shows that out of 296,900 applications in inventory, 23% or 67,900 are considered backlogged. This reflects a decrease from May when the backlog was at 27%. The July figures are in alignment with the IRCC’s projection of a 24% backlog. However, it is expected that during August and September, the backlog may rise to around 26%.

The Inventory of Temporary Residence Applications in Canada Continues to Decrease

As of July, there were 902,000 applications for temporary residence visas and permits in the inventory, marking a considerable decrease from the 1.3 million applications reported in May. Similar to permanent residence applications, temporary residence permits are categorized into study, work, and visitor visas.

IRCC Data Shows Processing Delays for Temporary Residence Visas

According to data provided by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), 47% of temporary residence visas (TRVs) were not being processed within the 14-day service standard at the end of July. This marks a slight uptick compared to the data from May when 45% of visitor visas did not meet the processing targets.

In terms of study permit backlogs, there has been no change between May and July, with the figure maintaining a consistent 17%, which falls below the target of 20%. However, work permit backlogs have seen a minor decrease from 27% in May to 25% in July – though they remain above the projected backlog rate of 22%.

Efforts By IRCC To Reduce Temporary Residence Application Backlog

IRCC has adopted several measures this year to reduce the backlog of temporary residence applications. Some of these initiatives include launching an online portal that enables certain permanent residence applicants to apply digitally, extending work permits for those with expiring post-graduate work permits, and increasing the length of stay for parents and grandparents in Canada who hold a Super Visa – now up to five years with an optional two-year extension.

In addition to these measures, IRCC has expanded its student direct stream by including seven more countries and extended eligibility for work permits to family members of temporary foreign workers.

The Impact of CUAET on Temporary Residence Applications

IRCC states that approximately 15% of temporary resident visa (visitor visa) applications and 71% of work permit applications in the inventory are related to the Canada-Ukraine Authorization for Emergency Travel (CUAET). The agency received 1,191,619 applications through CUAET before it stopped accepting new applications on July 15. Under this program, applicants were allowed to apply for TRVs to enter Canada and simultaneously apply for work permits.


The latest data reveals a promising trend in the reduction of IRCC application backlogs despite the increased numbers of applications. This improvement is evident across various categories, including permanent resident and citizenship applications, as well as temporary resident visas and permits. The IRCC’s continued efforts in streamlining application processing and meeting service standards are crucial in managing these backlogs and ensuring efficient service to applicants. As August and September may experience a potential rise in backlogs, it will be essential for the IRCC to maintain its focus on meeting targets and further reducing the backlog to benefit all applicants and stakeholders.

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