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