The province of Quebec recently revealed adjustments to its economic immigration programs which enable foreign investors, skilled workers, and entrepreneurs to settle in Quebec. Most notably, the first-come, first-served application process for the Quebec Skilled Worker Program has been replaced with a new ‘Expression of Interest’ application system, where applicants may submit an online profile at any time to be considered for immigration to Quebec. According to statements released by the Quebec government, the overhaul of its immigration system is intended to better meet the province’s economic needs, shorten processing and waiting times, encourage new economic immigrants to settle outside of the Montreal area, and prioritize applicants who already have a valid job offer in Quebec.
Quebec Skilled Worker Program
New ‘Expression of Interest’ System
The most substantial of the recent legislative changes is a new application system for the Quebec Skilled Worker Program. Prior to August 2, 2018, only a certain number of skilled worker applications were accepted at a given time, within limited intake periods. Submissions were first-come, first-serve, and processing time for candidates was often as long as 36 months.
Replacing this application process is the ‘Expression of Interest’ system, where candidates 18 years of age and older may submit an online profile at any time. There is no limit to the number of applicants that may “express their interest” at once. Similar to Express Entry, this new system pools candidates and ranks them based on a variety of factors, to help determine their suitability to immigrate. Applicants who meet baseline requirements for finances and education (minimum secondary school diploma) are given a score in the “Employability” category, awarded points based on:
- Work experience
- Language proficiency
- Time spent in Quebec and family in Quebec
- Valid job offer (bonus points, not required)
Candidates who receive enough points in “Employability” are then assessed in the “Selection” category, which considers the points received in “Employability”, plus the following factors:
- Financial self-sufficiency
- Spouse/partner’s points for these factors (if applicable)
After candidates receive a score, they may be invited by the Minister to apply for a Quebec Selection Certificate (QSC), to be completed within 90 days. If successful, candidates will then be eligible to apply for permanent residence from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada.
Note that not everyone with a passing score will be invited to apply for a QSC. Other elements will be considered when issuing invitations, including applicants’ ability to successfully stay in Quebec, their region of destination, whether there is a shortage in their occupation in Quebec, and whether their country of origin is affected by a humanitarian crisis. The Minister will also prioritize applicants with a valid job offer, those who are currently working in Quebec full-time, and those with at least 6 months of prior work experience in Quebec.
Adjusted Scoring System
New applicants may now find it somewhat easier to obtain the required points, as the threshold for passing scores in the “Employability” and “Selection” categories have changed slightly, as follows:
|Category||Old System (passing score)||New System (passing score)|
|Employability||– 43 out of 90 points
– With spouse/partner: 52 out of 107 points
|– 43 out of 94 points
– With spouse/partner: 52 out of 111 points
|Selection||– 50 out of 99 points
– With spouse/partner: 59 out of 116 points
|– 50 out of 103 points
– With spouse/partner: 59 out of 120 points
The scoring system was also updated for job offers, to encourage economic immigration to smaller cities and rural areas of the province. Applicants will still receive 8 points for a job offer in Montreal, however, there is an increase in the maximum number of points awarded for job offers in other regions. Previously, a job offer anywhere outside the Montreal metropolitan community was worth 10 points, now, candidates outside Montreal may earn between 10 and 14 points, depending on the specific region of their job offer.
Also included in the new legislation are additions to the foreign degrees and diplomas officially recognized on the Quebec Areas of Training List. Foreign degrees in actuarial science, information management, restaurant management, and early childhood education were boosted to Section A, the highest category on the list, now earning the maximum number of points possible for an occupation. Moreover, dozens of foreign degrees were added to Section B of the list.
In addition to updating the scoring and application processes, the legislation expanded eligibility for the Quebec Skilled Worker Program. The program will now accept applications from individuals residing in Quebec who are completing or have completed their studies, or who have been working full-time legally in Quebec. People meeting these specific requirements are now eligible:
- Completing(ed) a study program of 900-1799 hours AND full-time work experience (related to studies) within 6 months of the end of the program
- Completing(ed) a study program of 1800 hours, or a pre-university or university diploma
- Residing in Quebec for at least 1 year on a work permit, including at least 6 months of full-time work
Quebec Experience Class
This program is an expedited immigration process for individuals with a diploma from a Quebec school, or those working in Quebec full-time with at least 12 months of skilled work experience. Applicants through this stream are prioritized over other economic immigration programs, and processed within 30 days. New changes to this program are intended to improve applicants’ transition from temporary to permanent resident status, especially for spouses or partners and temporary workers who are already employed in Quebec, regardless of their skill level. Spouses may now apply by themselves, as principal applicants, for a QSC. Moreover, the program is now available to individuals with occupations in NOC categories 0, A, B, C and D, as opposed to the old system which did not accept applicants from categories C and D.
Quebec Self-Employed Program
Minor changes have been made to this program, the most significant being a shift in the definition of “self-employed”. Self-employed workers will now be allowed to have their own employees working for them.
Quebec Immigrant Investor Program
Adjustments to this program are intended to enhance the economic impact for Quebec and help retain investors in the province, francophones in particular. The bar has been raised to qualify for immigration through this program; applicants with a net worth of at least C$2 million (previously C$1.6 million) must make a C$1.2 million investment (previously C$800,000) to be eligible.
Quebec Entrepreneur Program
This program also underwent a slight modification – it has been tailored to support two separate aspects of the Quebec entrepreneurial sector. The first component encourages “innovative business” in the province, while the second focuses on the creation of small and medium sized businesses across Quebec regions.