The first week of 2016 has been a busy one for the Quebec Skilled Worker Program (QSWP), a Canadian immigration program designed to select newcomers who are likely to become economically established upon arrival in the province of Quebec. Effective December 31, 2015, the government of Quebec has made the criteria for area of training far less onerous than previously. Meanwhile, the Mon projet Québec online application management system was launched on January 5, 2016.
The QSWP allows eligible applicants to immigrate to Canada after receiving a Quebec Selection Certificate / certificat de selection du Québec (CSQ) from the government of Quebec. The next application intake for the QSWP is scheduled to begin on January 18, 2016, and may run until March 31, 2016 at the latest. A maximum of 2,800 applications will be accepted for processing during this intake period, and demand is expected to exceed supply. Consequently, it is likely that the cap will be reached prior to March 31.
Changes to points system: Area of Training and Level of Education
The QSWP is a points-based program. Points are awarded for a candidate’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 point requirement for these factors, he or she may then gain additional points for any accompanying dependent children and proof of financial self-sufficiency.
One of the distinctive characteristics of the QSWP, compared with other Canadian immigration programs, is that candidates have the opportunity to be awarded a significant number of points through having earned a diploma, degree or certificate in an area of training that meets Quebec labour market needs. Up to 16 points are available for this factor, but until last week applicants who obtained their diploma, degree or certificate more than five years ago were required to show relevant work experience in the field in order to obtain these points.
However, this is no longer the case. As of December 31, 2015, applicants may receive points under the area of training factor for their diploma, degree or certificate regardless of when it was earned, provided that it was obtained before the application was submitted.
The changes announced on December 31, 2015, can also have an impact on whether a candidate’s degree, diploma or certificate is counted toward his or her point total. The level of education being assessed under the QSWP must have been completed prior to submission in order for points to be awarded.
“While many stakeholders may have been waiting anxiously to see what Quebec’s much-anticipated online system would look like, this news in relation to how points are awarded may have slipped under the radar to some extent,” says Attorney David Cohen.
“Nonetheless, its importance should not be understated. In effect, Quebec is opening its doors to an increased number of potential newcomers. It is the latest welcome development to what was once a convoluted and drawn-out immigration process.”
The government of Quebec has made a number of changes to the QSWP over the past year, including the release of a new area of training list and the removal of the ‘adaptability’ factor/interview from the points-based program, which had the effect of lowering the pass mark required to obtain a CSQ. Taken together with the latest changes to the QSWP selection process, candidates who may not have been eligible during a previous application cycle of the program may now be eligible.
Mon projet Québec
Mon projet Québec is an online immigration application management system used by the Ministère de l’Immigration, de la Diversité et de l’Inclusion (MIDI) in order to process applications under the QSWP. It was launched on January 5, 2016 and, while some teething issues were encountered over the first two days of operation, the system appears to be functioning at an ever-improving level.
Mon projet Québec allows candidates to complete their application for a CSQ, make their payment online, follow the status of their application, make changes to their application, and access personal electronic messaging throughout the process. As of January, 2016, QSWP candidates must use the secure space Mon projet Québec in order to submit an application.
The Mon projet Québec system allows a limited number of users to access the system at any one time. When users access the system, they create a user name and password. An activation link is then sent to the user’s personal email address; this activation link must be activated within 72 hours, otherwise the user must start over.
Candidates have up to 90 days to submit an application from the time they started to complete the application in Mon projet Québec. Once the application has been submitted, candidates will have 30 days to pay government processing fees. If a candidate does not submit within the prescribed timeframe, the application will be deleted.
Quebec Skilled Worker: present and future
Quebec’s Minister of Immigration recently proposed a bill that, if passed, could result in Quebec implementing an Expression of Interest system similar to the Express Entry system currently used by the government of Canada. The upcoming application intake period may be the last application cycle where Quebec uses a first-come, first-served Skilled Worker Program.
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 individuals who are in the Express Entry pool and wish to increase their chances of successfully immigrating to Canada. According to the governments of Quebec and Canada, candidates can apply under the QSWP and submit an Express Entry profile, as long as they withdraw one when either a CSQ or Invitation to Apply (ITA) is issued.
Note: Candidates in either of the following situations are not subject to the cap and may submit an application for a CSQ at any time:
Candidates in either of the above situations may use the Mon projet Québec system as of January 5, 2016. They are not required to wait until January 18.
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