Changes in immigration to Quebec

The Quebec Ministry of Immigration, Francization and Integration (“the MIFI”) recently announced changes to its economic immigration programs, implementing new rules for managing applications for certain programs. These changes came into effect November 1, 2019.

In addition, commencing on January 1, 2020, economic immigrants seeking to settle in Quebec will be required to pass a new ‘values test’, attesting to their understanding of Quebec’s values, to qualify for a Certificate of Selection from Quebec, an electoral promise of the current government.

Quebec Experience Program (“PEQ”)

Among the changes announced last week, the MIFI has made significant changes to the PEQ, including re-opening the program for Quebec graduate candidates. This program, which had previously been suspended, has also been restructured, with changes to the eligibility criteria designed to target in-demand skills in the Quebec labour market. New eligibility criteria includes:

  • Candidates must now hold a diploma or training in one of Quebec’s identified areas

  • Graduates must have completed a program of study of at least 1800 hours, or, have a minimum of 6-months’ full-time, post-graduate work experience in their field of study if they have a diploma in a program of less than 1800 hours, but more than 900 hours.

The Temporary Foreign Worker stream of the PEQ has also undergone some changes, including increasing the minimum eligibility of holding a full-time position to the following:

  • The MIFI has published a list of in-demand occupations which an applicant must now hold in order to be eligible for the program.

  • Minimum work experience for eligible jobs classified under National Occupation Classification codes C and D has increased from 12 months to 18 months in the 2-year period preceding the application.

  • The notion of company ownership previously used to disqualify applicants under this program has been clarified to better align with the spirit of the program. Now, only those who are self-employed or working for companies they control will not be eligible for the PEQ.

The Minister announced, on November 6, that the new criteria will not be applied retroactively. The details regarding the transition provisions for foreign students and temporary workers already in Quebec as of November 1, 2019 are yet to come.

Furthermore, starting January 1, 2020, mandatory French language requirements for spouses will be implemented. Specifically, the accompanying spouse of the principal applicant, under both the PEQ for students and the PEQ for temporary workers, will also need to provide evidence of an intermediate-advanced level oral knowledge of French (through approved standard testing or past secondary or postsecondary studies in French) for the family to qualify for the CSQ in that program. These changes are reflective of the provincial government’s goal to facilitate the full participation of immigrants in Quebec society in French.

Regular Skilled Worker Program (“PRTQ”)

The MIFI will also be implementing changes on the process to add or remove a family member by a foreign national that has already been selected towards permanent residency under the PRTQ. The Regulations now clearly state how the weighting of the assessment, and possibly eligibility, may change as a result of the addition or removal of a family member.

Implementation of Values Test

Those seeking to immigrate to Quebec will now have to obtain an attestation of having learned the province’s democratic values and those expressed in the Québec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms. Candidates will be able to take an online test from the comfort of their home, up to three times. If the test is failed twice, a mandatory class is imposed before the test taker can attempt a third time. The test must be passed in order to obtain a Certificat de sélection du Québec (Quebec Selection Certificate) for the purposes of immigration under the Economic Class (i.e. this will not affect those applying under the Family Class or as a refugee).

Children under 18 years of age or those with a medical condition which prevents them from completing the test will be exempt from this requirement. Applicants already living in Quebec have the option to either complete the test or only complete the aforementioned 24 hour long course.

Source: PwC Law LLP subscription

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