Immigrant families wait longer to be reunited in Quebec than rest of Canada
People hoping to reunite with family in Quebec through the Family Reunification Immigration Program are waiting longer than those elsewhere in the country, with additional delays stretching over a year or more.
On average, it takes 24 to 26 months to have your immigration application processed in Quebec. That’s about 10-15 months longer than in the rest of the country.
While many wait overseas to reunite with family, their loved ones marched to the federal immigration offices in Montreal on Saturday.
Among them was 10-month-old Felix Emilio, who has only seen his father twice.
“It's unfair for Felix to not have his father, and for my husband to not be able to enjoy all the little moments,” said his mother, Lysianne Bourget. Her husband is in the Dominican Republic.
So what’s different about Quebec? Unlike other provinces, it has control over its immigration targets.
Immigration lawyer Patrice Brunet says he has seen wait times increase in recent years, and has started talking to his clients about settling in other provinces.
“It's become really unacceptable to a point where, as a lawyer, I need to advise my clients [that] if they do have a choice between Quebec (and somewhere else), even if Quebec is their preference to begin with, I'm duty-bound to give them options to go elsewhere,” he said.
“When we first applied, the waiting time, the processing time was twelve months,” said Mouna Eid, who also has a husband abroad.
She says wait times have increased substantially since they opened their application. “It is now moving up to 18, 24 (months), and last night we saw it go up to even 26.”
"Quebec sets its immigration thresholds in such a way as to maintain a balance between the need to fill labor requirements in several strategic sectors and humanitarian considerations," wrote Quebec's immigration ministry in a statement to CTV.
Meanwhile, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) says it regularly gets more applications than Quebec will accept, leading to a significant backlog.
“The result is a disparity in wait times for family class clients destined for Quebec compared to the rest of Canada," IRCC wrote in a statement.
“I think it's unfair,” said Bourget. “Because if you think about it, Ottawa is like an hour-and-a-half away from here. If I just move there, it's going to take like half the time.”