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Quebec Immigration Updates

Quebec Immigration Updates: The Rules of Immigration Have Changed

The Quebec government recently made reforms to its popular Quebec Experience ProgramThe government also announced its intention to launch two new programs.

The changes to the Quebec Experience Program or ‘PEQ’ as it is known in French will come into effect through the immigration regulation in the weeks to come.

PEQ is a popular stream that provides a faster track to permanent residence for temporary foreign workers or international students who have resided in Quebec.

What are the new reforms?

Quebec Minister Simon-Jolin Barrette outlined four major objectives:

  • Better integration into the labor market
  • More efficiency in the selection process.
  • French Language Proficiency to facilitate economic & social integration 
  • A strong program integrity

These are the main objectives that are behind the new reforms for PEQ.

In order to better promote integration into its labor market and society, Quebec is now introducing more ‘Increased ‘Work Experience’ requirements under the PEQ.

Temporary Foreign Workers (TFW) need to obtain at least 36 hours of full time work experience in the 48 months prior to their application for Permanent Residence. However, TFWs who held a valid work permit prior to the new reforms, the government has announced that a transitional measure will be put into order to accommodate these workers.   

Students on the other hand will now require either 12 or 24 months of Quebec Work Experience to be eligible. Whereas, the students who submitted their PEQ application before the new reforms, will have their application reviewed under the rules in place at the time of submission.

Under the new reforms, students who have obtained a university degree in Quebec or Quebec diploma of college studies require 12 months of work experience in Quebec. The jobs that fall within the NOC codes 0, A, & B.

Students that have a Quebec diploma of professional studies require 24 months of work experience in Quebec satisfying the NOC codes of 0, A, B, & C. Level C jobs can only be eligible if the job role is related to the program of study.

Reforms for a Stronger Integrity & Integration

Under the new reforms, it states that the principal applicant’s spouse will also need to demonstrate spoken knowledge of French. This is done to insure social integration in the province. However this will only come into effect one year after the reforms come into place.

Certificates of completion of advanced intermediate level French courses which are issued by educational institutions in Quebec will no longer be accepted. As these documents have raised questions of integrity over the past, they are no longer admissible as proof of knowledge of French.

However, a worker or a student’s French Proficiency will be assessed under the previous rules if they have already completed, registered or are currently participating in a French Course.

The PEQ has had a processing time of 20 days, but under the new reforms they are committing to a processing time of maximum 6 months for the applications. This is being done to create equality among its treatment of  PEQ & Quebec SKilled Workers Program (QSWP) candidates.

Pilot Program – Nurse Aides & Tech Workers

Quebec announced its intention to come out with two new pilot programs. These immigration pilot programs are for nurse aides and tech workers.

Nurse aides are in high demand throughout the province. As the current programs are not meeting the labor market, and as per statistics; only 115 nurse aides have been granted permanent residence in Quebec since 2013. This pilot program aims to bring about 550 nurse aides per year.

As the artificial intelligence and information technology sectors are booming in Quebec, a new immigration pilot will allow the province to select 550 of the highest skilled workers annually. This pilot is meant to attract specialised talent from the technology sector.

Problems with Quebec’s New Immigration Reforms

No immigration program is perfect, and it is a good practice to seek reforms and changes to programs that will help in the country’s growth in every sphere. However, with that being said, it is also important to note that all reforms don’t end up being beneficial.

The Increase in PEQ Processing Time

Since 2010’s, the Quebec Experience Program or PEQ has offered a fast track program. Individuals would get their Quebec Selection Certificate within 20 business days. This way they could go ahead and then submit their permanent residence application to the federal government.

This was an excellent policy by Quebec. It aided and benefited quicker integration into society as they were already there in Quebec, they were already working and aiding the economy.

It nearly takes 23 months for PEQ candidates to obtain permanent residence. The process looks something like this:

  • Quebec Selection Certificate (20 Days)
  • Federal Govt Processing Time (22 months)

The new reforms are adding another 5-6 months to this whole process. It seems misplaced, as successful Express Entry Candidates are usually able to get permanent residence in 6 months itself.

The change in the reforms feels misplaced. It would make sense for Quebec to fast track their application as their candidates are already present and residing in Quebec. They are already if not partially integrated into the Quebec Society.

New Work Experience Requirements

As per the current rules, a temporary foreign worker (TFW) requires only 12 months of eligible Quebec work experience, whereas students did not need work experience to be eligible.

As per the new reforms, Quebec now requires 36 months of work experience from TFW’s and between 12-24 months from foreign students.

However, Quebec Skilled Workers Program (QSWP) will seem to benefit from this, as the PEQ is a far less competitive process. This way more QSWP applicants can immigrate to Quebec. With the new work experience requirements, it makes it difficult even for the TFW’s and Foreign students to gain permanent residence in Quebec.

It is important to note, Quebec with its bar of high requirements, where many foreign workers and students applying through the PEQ or applicants of the QSWP who succeed in obtaining permanent residence are more likely to succeed in the province too.

But, Quebec’s higher standards will be a dissuasion for the TFW’s and foreign students. Other Canadian Federal or Provincial programs have their work experience limit set to 12 months. Quebec is now in competition with other provinces to retain and attract global talent.

Especially with the current global scenario and the damage to the global economy, it is going to be extremely difficult for candidates to meet the new work experience requirements.

Summarising, these new reforms are going to come into effect in the weeks to come. I believe it is a time for many of you to re-think your decision of immigrating to Quebec. If you are highly motivated, you should start getting in touch with your employers to tackle the new work experience requirements.

I understand the changes or the reforms seem unwise. But Quebec has decided to raise its standards and are focusing on attracting highly skilled workers and specialized talent. It is no doubt a hard journey, but as the saying goes; “If there’s a will, there’s a way”.