What: The Residence Questionnaire is a five page document sometimes used in Canada’s citizenship process. It is issued when Citizenship and Immigration Canada officials are concerned that the applicant has not met the residency guidelines which make a permanent resident eligible to apply for citizenship. The RQ has been issued with increasing frequency since the May 2012 issuance of CIC Operational Bulletin 407. The RQ demands extensive documentation.

Who: Due to the CIC’s opacity on the RQ, we do not know with certainty who receives it. Anecdotally, applicants from Middle Eastern and South Asian countries seem to be at a high risk for receiving the RQ. Stay-at-home mothers, the un- or underemployed, consultants and freelance workers may also be targeted. Those who frequently travel, or who misreport absences on their original citizenship applications are also subject to the RQ.

Numbers: New documents, received through the Access To Information and Privacy Act, reveal that at least 33,136 RQs were issued between May 7, 2012 and April 27, 2013. This suggests that RQs are sent to around 22% of applicants, given that 150,236 applications were referred for further processing during this period. Additionally, documents received through Canada’s Access to Information Act show that the CIC’s Vancouver and Montréal offices had RQ rates of 30% and 50% respectively for parts of 2012.

Timeline: There is no official service standard for citizenship processing or the processing of Residence Questionnaires. In 2012 and early 2013, CIC Helpline agents estimated that RQ processing took 48 months. Since April 2013, agents have stated that it will take 35-37 months from the time of initial application until citizenship is granted or refused. This response is based on the processing timelines of applications which largely predate the RQ glut of Operation Bulletin 407 and may be of limited usefulness in predicting the processing delays that current RQ recipients will face. There are no reliable timelines, no recourse and seemingly very little parliamentary oversight once someone gets an RQ.

Current Citizenship Inventory: 344,516 cases

12 responses to “RQ FAQ

  1. Permanent residents, especially those who arrived in Canada recently, may refuse to wait 9 years in total to get their citizenship, i.e. pay taxes for 9 years without being able to vote. These people are likely to seek other immigration opportunities elsewhere.

    • You are right that some people may leave Canada due to the frustration at the citizenship delays, but I suspect the number will not be high. Most people are unaware of the long timelines for citizenship when they decide to come to Canada, and by the time they learn of it, they are well settled and committed to Canada. This lack of transparency is a source of frustration for many of us caught in the ballooning backlog. We committed to Canada long ago. We built our lives here. And yet our rights are deferred indefinitely due to the low priority the CIC leadership puts on actually doing the work of the agency: administering citizenship.

      • So what’s the solution? Immigrants without citizenship can’t influence the citizenship policy legally (i.e. through the elections). So what way does remain? I would not give detailed recommendations here, but the first thing to do is to get united. Be prepared that the government agents may infiltrate such associations in order to weaken them.

      • PRs can join political parties and influence party awareness of this issue and party policy. PRs can influence the members of their families, friends and ethnic community members who can vote. The ethnic and immigrant community vote is vital to each of the 3 main parties. Neither the Tories, nor the Liberals, nor the NDP can win without us. Let’s not dismiss the influence we do have and the difference we can make.

        The Association for Future Canadians is an effort to unite those of us around real world, political, legal and/or media actions. I’m pretty sure we don’t have any agentes provacateurs or infiltrators as of yet, but I would be only too proud if we could ever be important enough for such a thing. In reality though, we’re not that important, and we’re not radical. Advocating for the civil rights of qualified, long time residents is a not a plot to overthrow the government. It’s patriotic. Citizenship is important. Canada is our home. If politicians want to come out against citizenship for qualified applicants, it speaks to their own lack of respect for citizenship and Canadian values.

    • There is no requirement that PR’s remain in Canada after applying for citizenship, so your point about taxes is meaningless.

      • I’m not sure I understand your point, John Smith. Are you suggesting that my status as a disenfranchised taxpayer doesn’t matter because I’m not legally trapped in Canada? Being trapped is not the point. The point is that paying taxes for years while being denied the right to vote is a legitimate frustration for many longtime residents. This is our home. This is where our families live. This is where we work. This is our country. We have fulfilled our citizenship requirements, now it is time for the government to acknowledge it.

    • Since July 2013 they made significant changes to the process…. I waited 1 and half year only, received an invitarion to take the test the following week, and They gave me the test results the same day…. And actually some of us received also the invitation to the citizenship ceremony the same day we took the test… It is a very significant improvement. Before, people had to wait years!

      • Rosa, I hope that the process is improving, but currently the CIC statistics do not reflect that. The inventory is the highest in history and the wait times are the longest in history. One cannot extrapolate their personal experiences to be a universal. Many tens of thousands of us still wait many years.

  2. When they ask for proof of rental payments will a letter from my landlords suffice? I have all of the rental agreements.

    • There is no hard and fast rule. A letter from your landlord is helpful. Even better is a notarized letter from you landlord or a letter signed in the presence of a Commissioner of Oaths (though, to me, this seemed like too much to ask). Also helpful is to highlight or point out cashed checks corresponding to your rental payments.

  3. Just want to share the experience of a good friend. She applied for Canadian Citizenship from overseas early last year (2013), in November they requested her to complete a Residence Questionnaire, wich she returned with all the requested documents beginning of december… On December 23 she received a letter comfirming that they received the RQ, provided her with the study guide for the citizenship test, and told her to start getting ready while they check the RQ. Last week, mid January she received another letter from Immigration Canada with an appointment to take the citizenship test on February 6…!!!! When she started all this process I showed her this website just to warn her of the long wait time, so I would like also to share with all of you her experience… Hopefully the processing times are improving every year.

    • There have been a number of reports of much faster timelines for 2013 applicants, including RQ recipients. Some applicants from September 2013 are already reporting that they have their test dates for citizenship. This is anecdotal, since the CIC has not updated their citizenship processing timelines since September of 2012 (though they are supposed to do it quarterly) but it is clear that something is changing. What we have NOT heard are reports of many applicants and RQ recipients from 2010, 2011 or early 2012 being scheduled for their tests. I hope to see actual statistics from CIC regarding their processing and timelines, and I hope to see evidence that ALL applicants can have hope for fair and timely treatment.

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