Applicants who receive the Residence Questionnaire can expect a minimum increase in the processing time of their application of one year, but it is extremely common for delays to be 1 or more additional years while the RQ documentation is examined by immigration officers.
Updated for 2021
Since changes to immigration procedures took effect in 2012, there has been a marked increase in applicants for Canadian citizenship receiving the dreaded Residence Questionnaire, otherwise known as RQ. Even with the changes to the law in 2017, we’re still seeing a large number of residence questionnaires.
Applicants who receive the Residence Questionnaire can expect a minimum increase in the processing time of their citizenship application of one year, but it is extremely common for delays to be 1 or more additional years while the RQ documentation is examined by immigration officers.
The RQ is somewhat of a mystery to applicants and even lawyers, but here are some of the many, many things that can cause you to receive a residence questionnaire because it looks like your residence obligation may not have been met:
- Declaring time spent prior to becoming a permanent resident in Canada (such as being on a work permit) as part of your residence requirement for citizenship, but not being able to prove it
- Being unable to clearly explain where you lived in the past four years
Previous Citizenship Applications
- Having previously submitted an application for Canadian citizenship which was refused because of the residence requirement
- Having withdrawn or abandoned a previous Canadian citizenship application
- Stamps in your passport that indicate you took trips outside Canada that you did not declare on your citizenship application
- Having a stamp in your passport that shows you have recently entered Canada when you take your citizenship test or verify your documents with a IRCC officer (indicating that you have spent time outside Canada while your application is in process)
- Including a new passport in your application, but being unable to provide a copy of the previous one
- Presenting a new passport that was issued outside Canada
- Not bringing your passport or other documents when you were advised to bring them to a citizenship test or document examination
Travel Outside Canada
- IRCC is aware that you travel often outside Canada
- IRCC has received information that you do not really live in Canada
- You have relinquished or attempted to relinquish permanent resident status while outside Canada
- You may possibly have your permanent resident status revoked while you are outside Canada
- You may possibly have your PR status revoked inside or outside Canada because you have not met the residence requirement
- You declared on your citizenship application that you were outside Canada for more than 365 days in the past four years
- Your identification or supporting documents appear to be fake or fraudulent
- The IRCC call centre has indicated that it appears you are frequently outside Canada
- The photos included with your Canadian citizenship application were taken outside Canada but you did not mention any trips on your application
- You are asked to provide fingerprints and have them taken outside Canada
- Your provincial health-card or driver’s license is expired, or is close to expiring at the time you submit your citizenship application
Proof of Employment
- Your employer is far away from your residence
- Your employer cannot be contacted
- You have been unemployed for extended periods during the four years prior to when you submitted your Canadian citizenship application
- Multiple applicants are using the same articles of incorporation or are listed on the board of directors for a particular Canadian company
- A letter of employment is signed by the applicant’s family member or by himself
- Absences from Canada are presented as a work assignment from a Canadian company, however the applicant is a shareholder or owner of the Canada
Citizenship Application Discrepancies
- Multiple applicants are using the same contact information, such as home address, mailing address, phone number, email address, but did not submit their applications together as a family
- Multiple applications are submitted in the same handwriting or type pattern but section 12 is not completed
- The date on the application occurred at a time the applicant was outside Canada
It is also important to remember that if you receive a residence questionnaire for your Canadian citizenship application, and you do not think that you will be able to answer the questions or provide adequate evidence, you may withdraw your application and still remain a permanent resident in Canada.
However, if you receive the RQ in conjunction with your application for a PR card, returning the questionnaire is mandatory. If you do not return it, your file will eventually go under investigation and you may lose your PR status.