A temporary file number in Canada – immigration, visa, and permits

Upon applying for immigration, visa, or permit, you receive a file number. IRCC usually issues the file number when they email your Acknowledgement of Receipt (AOR). However, sometimes you receive a temporary file number in Canada. How does a temporary file number look like, and what does it mean?

What is a file number?

A file number or an application number is unique to an application. Therefore, you could quickly locate the file. Let’s say you file a work permit and an immigration application at the same time. IRCC assigns different numbers to each of them. Consequently, when you communicate about one of those applications, you use its file number as an identifier. Check out the following article for more information:

Here are some sample file numbers are taken from that article:

The letters remain the same. However, the numbers vary from one application to the other.

How do I know the file number is temporary?

A typical temporary file number begins with the letter X. For example, XE123456789 refers to a temporary economic file number. When IRCC is ready to issue a permanent file number, they remove the X from the beginning. However, they sometimes issue a new number without an X in the front.

Why does IRCC issue a temporary file number?

Two potential scenarios could lead to issuing temporary file numbers:

  1. Your package is incomplete, and the processing is pending on receiving missing documents or payments.
  2. IRCC does not have the resources to process your application now. However, they want to issue an AOR, so you know they have received the application.

My clients have experienced the latter since the coronavirus pandemic. However, I have only seen temporary file numbers for in-paper applications. Keep in mind a temporary file number means IRCC has not initiated processing of your application. Consequently, don’t give yourself high hopes at this time. I have another article that explains how you could check out the status of your application.

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    Al Parsai, MA, DTM, RCIC
    Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant
    Ashton College Instructor – Immigration Consulting
    Author – 88 Tips on Immigration to Canada

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    This article provides information of a general nature only. Considering the fluid nature of the immigration world, it may no longer be current. Of course, the item does not give legal advice. Therefore, do not rely on it as legal advice or immigration advice. Consequently, no one could hold us accountable for the content of these articles. Of course, if you have specific legal questions, you must consult a lawyer. Alternatively, if you are looking for immigration advice, book an appointment.

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    Al Parsai

    This article has been expertly crafted by Al Parsai, a distinguished Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant (L3 RCIC-IRB – Unrestricted Practice) hailing from vibrant Toronto, Canada. Al's academic achievements include an esteemed role as an adjunct professor at prestigious Queen's University Law School and Ashton College, as well as a Master of Laws (LLM) degree from York University. A respected member of CICC and CAPIC organizations, Al's insights are further enriched by his experience as the dynamic CEO of Parsai Immigration Services. Guiding thousands of applicants from over 55 countries through the immigration process since 2011, Al's articles offer a wealth of invaluable knowledge for readers.