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Marc Miller put on notice for long processing times for sponsorship files

Photo: Spencer Colby The Canadian Press Currently, IRCC processes sponsorship applications for spouses or common-law partners within 8 months everywhere in Canada except in Quebec where these deadlines are 24 months, or three times longer. In the photo, Minister Marc Miller.

Lisa-Marie Gervais

Posted at 5:09 p.m. Updated at 5:33 p.m.

  • Canada

Lawyers are threatening to sue federal Immigration Minister Marc Miller in Federal Court if he does not put an end to “unreasonable” processing times for family reunification files, we have learned Le Devoir . They also plead for these delays, which are 2 to 3 times lower in the other provinces, to be the same everywhere in Canada.

Made by the Quebec Association of Immigration Lawyers (AQAADI), the formal notice gives the minister 15 days to produce a “public, clear, orderly and reasonable” processing schedule » and 30 days to finalize the files of eight plaintiff couples in the case, some of whom have been waiting for two years to be able to be reunited in Quebec. If nothing is done, an action for mandamus will be filed before the Federal Court of Canada.

“This mandamuscomes to force federal authorities to process and finalize requests that were filed years ago,” said Laurence Trempe, co-president of AQAADI. “It is to correct the inequity in delays suffered by Quebec families, versus those elsewhere in Canada. »

Currently, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) processes sponsorship applications for spouses or common-law partners within 8 months everywhere in Canada except in Quebec where these deadlines are 24 months, three times longer. “These notable differences in processing times for applications filed by Quebec respondents are, in our humble opinion, unjustifiable,” we read in the formal notice prepared by the Bertrand Deslauriers firm that Le Devoir was able to consult.

“No Mercy”

Instigator of the process, Laurianne Lachapelle is also one of the eight plaintiffs in the appeal. In a relationship since 2018 with a Guatemalan lawyer who works for the United Nations, this accountant got married in 2022. Submitted shortly after, her sponsorship application has still not been processed 20 months later. “I have no pity in moving forward [with this appeal] because they have no sensitivity towards us,” she said. “We are in great psychological distress and we are completely abandoned in this administrative maze. It’s our lives we’re talking about! »

Ms. Lachapelle deplores that IRCC does not authorize spouses to come to Canada on a temporary visa, while waiting for the file to be processed. “It’s a double mistreatment that we suffer. Both for the delays in family reunification which are unreasonable but also because we do not issue visitor visas [to spouses]. We are being prevented from seeing each other,” she denounced.

Her husband, who works for the International Organization for Migration (IOM), has had his visitor visa refused five times. “He works as a lawyer trying to prevent illegal immigration and he is criticized by our system for wanting to immigrate illegally,” says Ms. Lachapelle, pointing out the irony.

The one who has already thought about moving to Ontario due to the long processing times in Quebec says she has put this project on ice, to give time to the new procedures she is starting. Last fall, several people involved in a sponsorship process were thinking of leaving Quebec, reported Le Devoir.

Even longer from abroad

When the spouse waits abroad during the process, the average processing time for Quebec files is even longer, at 28 months. In another Canadian province, this period, for a file of the same nature, is 12 months, or half as much. According to AQAADI, this 16-month difference “is unreasonable, unjustified, inexplicable and difficult to understand.” “There is no doubt that the delays are attributable to IRCC,” she emphasizes.

Currently, the inventory of Quebec files at the federal level is approximately 35,000, while Quebec only admits 10,000 people annually — 10,295 in 2023 — in this immigration category. And as the Legault government continues to issue Quebec Selection Certificates (CSQ) – some 17,246 were issued in 2023 – the inventory is not decreasing. Even if Quebec stopped emitting them, the inventory would take several years to be used up, believes AQAADI.

“The applicants will still get stuck and have to wait too long,” said Mr. Trempe. “And the famous CSQ is important for them to have. It gives access to RAMQ and allows you to avoid deportation. »

Ottawa and Quebec confront each other

At the beginning of March, the federal government threatened to circumvent the immigration thresholds imposed by Quebec in the family reunification category, which was considered an “affront” by the Legault government. In a letter to his Quebec counterpart, Christine Fréchette, the Minister of Immigration, Marc Miller, warned that IRCC officials would now be authorized to process applications for family reunification, even if the ceiling of the Quebec is reached.

For her part, the Minister of Immigration, Christine Fréchette, was also the subject of a lawsuit because her admission threshold was too low in this same category, which lengthened the processing times for files from Quebec compared to those elsewhere in Canada. However, the appeal was abandoned two weeks ago because the main plaintiff had seen his situation resolved.

Me Trempe hopes that the formal notice will have the desired effect. “We want Quebec and Canada to reach a compromise and that Quebec families are not penalized because they chose to settle here,” she said.

For Laurianne Lachapelle, the minister must act without further delay. “Would Mr. Miller agree to live away from his children and family for 3-4 years ? Would he make sense not even being able to visit them ? This is cruel treatment. I ask that justice be done. »

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116