Quebec announces major immigration program reforms; 2 new pilots

Kareem El-Assal, Shelby Thevenot, Alexandra Miekus
Published: May 28, 2020

Pour lire cet article en français, cliquez ici.

Following public consultations, the Quebec government announced today long-awaited reforms to its Quebec Experience Program. It will also launch two new pilot programs.

Quebec expects that changes to the Quebec Experience Program ( or "PEQ" in French) will come into force through its immigration regulations “in the coming weeks.”

Launched in 2010, the PEQ is a popular stream that provides a fast-track to permanent residence for temporary foreign workers and international students that have resided in Quebec.

In the fall of 2019, Quebec announced major reforms to the PEQ, but was forced to back-track on them following a public outcry that the reforms were unfair to workers and students already in the province. 

Some workers and students who were planning to use the PEQ as an avenue to transition to permanent resident status would no longer have been eligible under the PEQ had the Quebec government gone ahead and maintained their proposed November 1st, 2019 changes.

Find out if you are eligible for any Canadian immigration programs

Four objectives for PEQ reforms

In today’s announcement, Quebec immigration minister Simon-Jolin Barrette outlined four major objectives behind the PEQ reforms:

  1. Better integration into the labour market
  2. More efficiency in the selection process to meet the province’s labour market needs
  3. French-language proficiency to facilitate economic and social integration
  4. Strong program integrity 

Increased work experience now required for workers and students

Quebec is now introducing more work experience requirements under the PEQ to better promote integration into its labour market and society.

Temporary foreign workers (TFWs) will now need to obtain at least 36 months of full-time work experience in the 48 months preceding their application for permanent residence. At the same time, Quebec announced that a transitional measure will be put in place to accommodate the TFWs who held a valid work permit before the new PEQ criteria is enshrined into law in the coming weeks.

Students will now require either 12 or 24 months of Quebec work experience to be eligible for the PEQ. 

However, students that submitted their PEQ application before the new regulations take effect will have their applications under the rules in place at the time of their submission.

Under the new rules, students who obtain a university degree in Quebec or a Quebec diploma of college studies will require 12 months of Quebec work experience in jobs that fall within National Occupational Classification (NOC) codes 0, A, and B.

Students that obtain a Quebec diploma of professional studies require 24 months of Quebec work experience in NOC 0, A, B, and C level jobs. Students working in C level jobs can only be eligible under the new PEQ rules if their work experience is related to their program of study in Quebec.

French knowledge for spouses

Under today’s announced reforms, Quebec states that spouses of principal applicants under the PEQ will need to demonstrate spoken knowledge of French. This is to ensure they will be able to integrate in the province. This requirement will come into effect one year after the reform comes into force.

Stronger integrity

Certificates of successful completion of advanced intermediate level French courses issued by educational institutions in Quebec will no longer be admissible as proof of knowledge of French. These documents have raised integrity issues over the years, as irregularities were uncovered.

However, a worker or student's French proficiency will be assessed under the previous rules if they have already registered, completed, or are currently participating in a French course (i.e., the language course will be accepted as proof of French).

Processing times

The PEQ has had a processing standard of 20 days, however the province is now committing to processing applications within a maximum of 6 months. The reason for this is Quebec wants to ensure it is treating PEQ and Quebec Skilled Worker Program (QSWP) candidates equally.

Two pilot programs for nurse's aides and tech workers

Quebec will also be coming out with two new immigration pilot programs for nurse’s aides and tech workers.

Nurse’s aides, or beneficiary attendants, are in high demand throughout the province. According to the Quebec government, current programs are not meeting labour market demands. Only 115 nurses aides have received permanent residence selection from Quebec since 2013. The new program will aim to bring in 550 nurses aides per year.

The government also stated that artificial intelligence and information technology sectors are booming in Quebec. A new immigration pilot will allow the province to select 550 highly-skilled workers annually for immigration. The implementation of this pilot is meant to attract and retain specialized talent in these fields, and contribute to Quebec’s influence and competitiveness in the global tech scene.

Find out if you are eligible for any Canadian immigration programs

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