Federal processing time for Quebec Skilled Workers (CSQ holders)
Obtaining a "Certificat de Sélection du Québec", commonly known as the CSQ, is already a grand achievement in the province of Quebec as the government has made it increasingly difficult for applicants to obtain one. Once your CSQ is received, either through the Programme de l'Expérience Québécoise or the regular Quebec Skilled Worker stream (ARRIMA), you must then apply for permanent residency at the federal level.This stage of the application processing can be a real test of patience as you may wait for months to receive any news about your application from the federal government. There are many misconceptions regarding the processing time for this application and we will adress some common questions in this article.
File Opening letters
After submitting your federal application to the Case Processing Center in Sydney, Nova Scotia, applicants can unfortunately not expect any acknowledgment of receipt or signs of life from Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). Since the summer of 2019, IRCC has not been issuing file opening letters or any updates for new applicants who submitted a permanent residence application through this stream. The waiting time is simply unacceptable and causes not only stress but many inconveniences for applicants. For example, if there is a change in marital status or a work permit is expired, there is no way for the applicant to notify the officer without a file number attributed.
Processing time for submitted vs non submitted
According to IRCC, the processing time for an appplication that is already submitted is 26 months. Considering that a permanent residence application under the Express Entry (federal workers stream) takes approximately 6 months to be processed, this processing time is simply unreasonable. An applicant has the chance to submit 4X Express Entry applications before receiving a decision on their Quebec Skilled Worker Federal permanent residence, this is simply absurd.
In the realm of absurdity, we also have another interesting statistic from IRCC. If an applicant has not submitted their application yet and still plans to submit it, the processing time now becomes 15-17 months. Does this mean that newer applications will be prioritized? We have no clear answer but our assumption is that this is based on the yearly quotas set by the province of Quebec regarding the total number of accepted applications through this stream.
When does processing time start?
According to IRCC, if you apply by courrier or mail, the processing time starts when your application arrives in their mailroom. This is probably the only metric we can measure the processing time on since they are not providing file opening letters anymore. Therefore, we highly suggest to track your application when you submit it as this will be the only proof of reception you will have (until further notice).
Impact of COVID-19
For applications who were submitted prior to the start of the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic in March of 2020, we still did not see any movement in the processing of their applications until recently (Fall 2020). These applicants already had file opening letters as they most likely submitted their applications in 2018 or early 2019. Nevertheless, it seems like none of the applications were processed or reviewed until recently. We suspect this may be due to the fact that they are paper based applications and it is harder for the officers to review them while they are working from home.