IRCC Ordered to Pay $62K to QSW Applicant for Processing Delays

A recent Federal Court decision ordered Immigration, Refugees, Citizenship Canada (IRCC) to pay $62,040 to a Quebec Skilled Worker (QSW) applicant after unexplained delays and officer mistakes resulted in nearly a decade of processing time before the application was cancelled due to Quebec’s Bill 9.

David Alfonzo Blanco Carrero first came to Montréal, Québec in 2008 as a diplomatic representative for Venezuela. He received his Certificat de Selection du Quebec (CSQ) two years later in 2010, and subsequently applied to obtain Canadian permanent residency with his common-law partner and daughter. He received confirmation that his application for permanent residence had been received by IRCC in June 2011.

Carrero completed his medical exam and provided police clearances at the request of IRCC over the course of five years, between 2012 and 2017. Due to existing jurisprudence regarding processing delays, the Federal Court was not prepared to conclude that the delay during this time was unreasonable.

However, in 2018, Carerro’s file was transferred to a Canadian Visa Office located in Mexico for further review. There was no explanation for the transfer of the applicant’s file nor for the delay between 2017 and 2018. In addition, an error made by an officer in the Mexico visa office regarding a previous CSQ refusal of the applicant’s daughter resulted caused even further delays.

After Quebec’s Bill 9 was implemented in 2019, Carrero’s application was cancelled, forcing him to reapply.

The Federal Court decision has concluded that the delay from 2017 onward was unreasonable, and that there is no reason that Carrero should not be a permanent resident or even citizen by now. In addition, the court determined that the mistakes and unnecessary delays resulted in additional legal fees than should not have otherwise been required. As a result, IRCC was ordered to pay the amount of $62,040.29 for solicitor-client costs.

What is considered excessive delay?

The Federal Court may award solicitor-client costs only on rare occasions. For costs to be awarded from IRCC, they must have displayed “reprehensible, scandalous, or outrageous conduct”. These unique circumstances typically arise where an application is unreasonably or unnecessarily delayed or an officer has acted in an unfair or improper manner.

In this case, the Federal Court determined that IRCC displayed reprehensible conduct that led to years of delay and serious consequences for the Applicant and his family.  Due to an error on the part of the office in Mexico, and the unexplained delay from 2017 to 2018, the Federal Court found that IRCC committed an inexcusable violation of the applicant’s rights, mainly in regards to the substantially higher legal fees than should have been required under typical circumstances.

What does this mean for other applications cancelled by Bill 9?

Introduced in June 2019, Quebec’s controversial Bill 9 resulted in the cancellation of 18,000 backlogged Quebec Skilled Worker applications.  The Federal Court has clarified that they do not believe all permanent resident applications in Quebec should be expedited in case of potential changes to legislations such as Bill 9. The decision made on this case was due to the unnecessary and unexplained delays throughout the processing of Carrero’s application that resulted in serious monetary consequences.

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