Why so long delays in Quebec immigration files?

Why do these immigrants who seek permanent residency in Quebec often have to wait much longer than those who have settled in other provinces?

For a rare time, Immigration Canada has only released a few factual statements in a court proceeding.

Pursued by a group of Quebec lawyers, the Federal Department of Immigration invokes an outdated organization, the pandemic, or even security checks to justify these different deadlines.

Currently, a skilled worker who has already been selected by the Quebec government must wait an average of 31 months to obtain permanent residency. That delay was 6 months in the federal department serving the country’s other provinces, but has recently increased to 27 months, according to data available on Immigration Canada’s website.

Over 29,000 pending files

In a brief April 19 filed in federal court and obtained by Radio-Canada, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) reveals that it currently has more than 29,000 permanent residence applications from Quebec professionals pending processing Need to become.

Nearly 10,000 of these files were sent to Ottawa prior to 2020. Some have even been waiting for a federal decision for more than ten years. These include, the ministry explains, security and crime issues or a inability of a person to cooperate who can delay a file.

Directory of permanent residence applications in the skilled worker category in Quebec

  • Between 2009 and 2016: 213
  • 2017: 621
  • 2018: 4411
  • 2019: 5026
  • 2020: 5336
  • 2021: 13,641

Immigration Canada, which disputes the Quebec Association of Immigration Lawyers (AQAADI) application, claims to have processed a majority of the applications for 2018 (84.5%) and 2019 (75.8%), but admits it had trouble afterwards.

The Minister notes that, in fact, for a period of 2020 there has been a significant slowdown in the processing of immigration applications of all categories combined. »

A quote from Excerpt from Immigration Canada fact filed in federal court

The Ministry has therefore decided to do soraise its targets for the next few years to rectify the situationas already mentioned by the Trudeau government.

No measurement planned before the pandemic

“There is no injustice or bad faith in the minister’s actions,” it said.

To justify this inventory, the prosecutors of the IRCC speak of a operational impact on the processing of files processed on Canadian soil [qui] was significant. A “significant slowdown” affected all “categories” of immigration.

Quebec’s main casework office, based in Sydney, Nova Scotia, has become inaccessible to its employees at the beginning of the pandemic, mid-March 2020, we can read in these memoirs.

Given the sudden and unpredictable nature of the pandemic, no action has been taken to bridge this gap.it is stated.

Unlike the other federal categories whose records are created electronicallywere the demands on workers in Quebec back then on paper.

Due to privacy issues, it was not possible to transport the files to the officers’ homes. »

A quote from Excerpt from Immigration Canada fact filed in federal court

From Summer 2020 to March 2021 Immigration Canada has implemented an internal program to digitize files and allow agents to view documents over a secure computer network.

This measure allowed agents to work on files, but at a level not pre-pandemic in March 2020.

However, Immigration Canada waited a year into the pandemic to shift into higher gears. In March 2021 the ministry decided to hire a specialized private company to digitize files to to increase the number of files that can be processed.

At the beginning of the same year measurements were also taken so that immigration officials may have a larger computer screen, then a second screen if needed.

Due to “restrictions on travelers around the world”, the IRCC has also “prioritized” the files of Quebec workers “already on Canadian soil” as of “August 2020”. “Files submitted in 2021 were processed faster than normal. However, in January 2022 and to date, IRCC resumed its practice of initiating the processing of files according to the order in which they were received,” argue Immigration Canada prosecutors.

All of these details come from a statement – ​​the only one on file so far – by a Sydney IRCC supervisor, Tracey Moore, which was kept in English.

delays that are not justifiedaccording to AQAADI

These explanations do not convince AQAADI, which called on the courts to quickly settle these thousands of pending cases.

If IRCC sees security concerns related to these thousands of files, which remains speculative, then it can and certainly will finally have to focus on these issues while these requests for specific files have been awaiting an answer since 2009.emphasizes AQAADI’s lawyer, Guillaume Cliche-Rivard, in the association’s response, also submitted to the Federal Supreme Court.

No safety issue could excuse the failure to make a decision (positive or negative) in more than 13 years of treatment. IRCC cannot justify its inaction with the complexity of processing a file for more than a decade. »

A quote from Excerpt from the AQAADI response

In his view, the ministry remains responsible for unjustified delays.

“The Minister explains the fact that the applications were submitted on paper from Quebec and not in electronic format as for the federal program, but this is a decision by IRCC. The minister also submits that the files were processed in Sydney, an office affected by the pandemic, but this again emerges as a decision by IRCC management. »

The Federal Supreme Court has not yet ruled on this authorization and mandamus application.

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