The first of two application intake periods for the Quebec Skilled Worker Program (QSWP) has reached its cap/limit of 3,500 submitted applications. The next submission period, which will welcome up to 2,800 fresh applications through a new online system, begins on January 18, 2016 and may run until March 31, 2016 at the latest.
The government of Quebec announced on November 10 that the first intake cap had been reached, with the program having opened less than a week earlier on November 4. This first intake period accepted applications made by post only; applications sent by post will no longer be accepted and will be returned.
The QSWP is a popular Canadian immigration program, with successful applicants and their families becoming eligible to obtain Canadian permanent resident status after receiving a Quebec Selection Certificate/certificat de selection du Québec (CSQ) from the government of Quebec.
The QSWP has not closed
Candidates for the QSWP should note that the program has not closed. Rather, the first intake period has reached its cap. It appears that many candidates who had prepared in anticipation for the reopening of the QSWP were well positioned to submit an application within that timeframe, while others can use this window of opportunity to prepare for January. The same program eligibility requirements are expected to remain in place for the next submission period.
Preparing for January and the new online system
The government of Quebec has stated its intention to reveal more details about the online system before the submission period begins, including making the system available to cap-exempt applicants (see the end of this article) as of January 5, 2016. It has already been disclosed that, similar to the federal Express Entry system, applicants to the QSWP will have a limited time period during which they may submit all supporting documentation.
(Please note that the QSWP and Express Entry systems are completely unrelated. The QSWP does not have an ‘Expression of Interest’ stage, and operates on a first-come, first-served basis.)
With a slightly reduced intake cap compared with the postal submission period (2,800 versus 3,500) and with the latter having reached its quota within one week, it is expected that the quota for the upcoming submission period will also be reached quickly.
An increasing range of Canadian immigration programs have been moved to online systems over recent months, with application management and processing being either primarily or completely electronic. The federal Express Entry system is perhaps the most notable example, and Quebec is the latest province to come on board. In addition to cutting down on unnecessary costs and delays, the removal of paperwork makes the immigration process less cumbersome, more transparent, and more reactive than before.
The QSWP is a points-based immigration program, where points are awarded for an applicant’s area of training, work experience, language proficiency, age, prior relationship with Quebec, the human capital factors of the applicant’s spouse or common-law partner (if applicable), and whether or not the applicant has a validated job offer from an employer in Quebec.
If an individual satisfies the minimum points requirement for these factors, he or she may then gain additional points for any accompanying dependent children and proof of financial self-sufficiency. A job offer is not required for this program.
French proficiency not a bar to eligibility
Applicants should also note that French proficiency is not an eligibility requirement for the program, though points may be awarded to candidates with French proficiency. Applicants who do not have knowledge of French may still be eligible to apply as long as they obtain enough points for their other credentials, which may include English proficiency.
Single applicants must score at least 49 points, while applicants with a spouse or common-law partner must score at least 57 points. Once a CSQ has been issued, applicants are required to complete medical and security examinations conducted by the federal government in order to be granted Canadian permanent resident status. Potential applicants to the QSWP should have the intention to reside within the province of Quebec.
A number of changes have been made to the QSWP process and criteria throughout 2015, including the release of a new area of training list. In addition, in August, 2015, the government of Quebec lowered the pass mark required to obtain a Quebec Selection Certificate/certificat de selection du Québec (CSQ) and, at the same time, removed the ‘adaptability’ factor from the points-based program. Consequently, candidates who may not have been eligible for a previous application cycle of the QSWP may now be eligible to submit an application.
Pursuing both a federal and a Quebec application
In contrast to the federal economic immigration programs that are processed through the Express Entry selection system, the QSWP remains a first-come, first-served immigration program. There is no ‘Expression of Interest’ stage for the QSWP, and consequently it may be viewed by individuals interested in immigrating to Canada as a more assured and straightforward way of obtaining Canadian permanent residence.
According to the governments of Quebec and Canada, individuals can submit an Express Entry profile and submit an application under the QSW, provided that one or the other is withdrawn when either a CSQ or Invitation to Apply (ITA) is issued. The QSWP may be an enticing option for individuals who wish to make an application to immigrate to Canada without having to be invited to apply, as well as by individuals who are in the Express Entry pool and wish to increase their chances of successfully immigrating to Canada.
Preparation is key
“When demand for something is high and supply is low, competition increases. With respect to the upcoming application intake period of the Quebec Skilled Worker Program, we can expect this to be the case,” says Attorney David Cohen. “Therefore, it is important for potential applicants to gather good information and familiarity with the system, as well as supporting documentation, as early as possible.”
“A series of welcome announcements and changes made by the government of Quebec over the course of this year give applicants a more streamlined process than before. Not only has the adaptability interview stage been removed, but applicants will also be presented with a simplified documentation checklist, an Area of Training list that rewards occupations that many people have experience in, and what is likely to be an efficient online application system. But without thorough advanced preparation and expert knowledge of the program, potential applicants may not be maximizing their chances of success.”
Note: Though applications for a CSQ through the QSWP submitted before the announcement of the start of the official period for receipt of applications will be returned to applicants in most cases, candidates in one of the following situations may submit an application for a CSQ at any time:
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