A group of immigration lawyers is tackling “unfair” delays in processing applications for permanent residence from skilled workers in Quebec and is considering legal action against Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada.
Posted on March 2
More than two years: this is the average waiting time for skilled workers in Quebec (TQQ), compared to six months elsewhere in Canada. And that’s if their case progresses.
“We have realized for some time that many skilled worker files in Quebec are really on hold, and are not being processed by the federal government,” explains Ms.and Stéphanie Valois, President of the Quebec Association of Immigration Lawyers (AQAADI).
There are 25,000 TQQ files that have a delay in processing and a backlog from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), i.e. 18,000 in 2020 and 7,000 in 2021, according to the most recent Immigration Plan of the Quebec. “It is not anecdotal, observes Mand Valois. It really seems to be a policy or a blind spot of the federal government. »
However, the portrait, for the same category of immigrants, is different elsewhere in the country. “The IRCC is able to process federal skilled worker files in six months and open other programs, denounces Mr.and Guillaume Cliche-Rivard, lawyer specializing in immigration. If you do these new programs, process Quebec files too! »
Notice and mandamus
To get things moving, AQAADI sent a formal notice on February 23 – that The Press was able to consult – to Sean Fraser, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, in particular. “AQAADI requests that the files for 2018 be finalized within three months and those for 2019 within six months, up to the catch-up of the Quebec targets,” explains Ms.and Guillaume Cliche-Rivard.
Without a response, the group is now considering an appeal of the type mandamus in the Federal Court of Canada. One Mandamus allows the court to order that a decision be rendered in the files for unreasonable delay.
The Press had not received a response to his request for information from Minister Fraser at the time these lines were published.
Faces behind the deadlines
Most of these skilled workers are already established in Quebec. They studied here, they work, pay taxes and raise a family in the province. They have already gone through the Quebec selection process, which makes IRCC’s administrative slowness all the more inexplicable.
“A file is processed within a few weeks to a few months, normally,” explains Ms.and Cliche-Rivard. However, some of the files detailed in the formal notice are experiencing delays of up to 60 months, and some have not even gone beyond the very first stage of receiving the request.
Not to mention that the IRCC is now processing much newer applications, regardless of those “who have been waiting since 2018 and 2019”, or even earlier.
“There is something fundamentally unfair here”, underlines Mr.and Cliche-Rivard.