Quebec Announces Major Changes to Immigration Programs

CIC News
Published: July 17, 2013

The Government of Quebec has officially announced changes to language rules for immigration through the Quebec Skilled Worker (QSW) program. This announcement was made in the Gazette Officielle du Quebec/The Quebec Gazette on Wednesday, July 17th 2013.

In addition to modifying language criteria, the government has announced its intent to institute a cap on application intake and to publish a new list of areas of training/fields of study.

Language Rules

Applicants applying to the skilled worker stream of the QSW program can receive a maximum of 22 points for language skills. Up to 16 points are awarded for French proficiency, and up to 6 for English.

French points are assessed on a scale from A1 (beginner) to C2 (advanced/fluent). Previously, points could be claimed for any level of proficiency in listening and speaking. This began with 1 point for A1 level and a maximum of 8 points for a C1 or C2 level for each proficiency.

The points system has been changed so that, moving forward, no points will be awarded until the B2 (advanced intermediate) level. In addition, applicants will now have the opportunity to earn points for reading and writing proficiency. Up to 1 point can be earned in each of these categories.

The charts below illustrates the new points breakdown:

English proficiency has similarly changed. Points for English language skills will not be awarded until the Intermediate level, or levels 5-8 according to government criteria:

It is important to note that applicants would not be disqualified for possessing less than B1 proficiency in French or English. The QSW application is assessed on a points system, and it is possible for an applicant to achieve sufficient points without being awarded points for their language skills.

These language rules will be effective for new applicants beginning August 1st, 2013. The rules will be effective retroactively for submitted files for which preliminary processing has not already begun. What constitutes ‘preliminary processing’ has not been made clear in the government’s announcement.

Proposed Changes

Two additional changes, proposed a week prior, have not yet been made official.

The first will place a cap of 20,000 on application intake for the QSW program. The second will involve publishing a new list of eligible areas of training/fields of study. Currently, applicants to the skilled worker stream of the QSW must have training in one of 110 areas of training/fields of study. This list corresponds to occupations the government has identified as in-demand in the Quebec.

What Applicants Should Know

French language ability has always played a significant role in the QSW program, Quebec’s largest immigration program. English proficiency remains important, however, and maximum points for English language skills have not diminished under this new system.

“These changes reflect the emphasis Quebec places on language proficiency. The government believes that speaking Canada’s official languages is an essential tool for economic and social integration into the province,” said Attorney David Cohen.

Attorney Cohen added that “while language proficiency is indeed important, not all applicants need these skills to qualify for immigration. Others with limited skills may be able to attain a higher level through language study. As always, Canada’s immigration system awards immigrants who are organized and motivated to come here.”

It is unknown when the Quebec Government will officially release the new list of areas of training/field of study but it is safe to say it will be on or before August 1st, 2013. 


To find out if you are eligible to apply for the QSW program or any of the over 60 Canadian immigration programs, please fill out a free online assessment today.

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