The month of April saw an important number of new immigration-related announcements from both the federal and Quebec governments.
The most significant announcement was made on April 14, 2021, by Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino, who stated that temporary foreign workers in essential services and Canadian graduates already in the country will have access to a new fast-track pathway to permanent residence.
Some 90,000 people will have the chance to become permanent residents through this pathway, which will be launched nationwide on May 6.
The streams are available to those in Quebec who can demonstrate to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) their intention to reside in another province or territory.
Quebec has an agreement with Ottawa to select its immigrants and issue Quebec selection certificates (CSQs). This document is necessary for the federal government to grant permanent residence to an economic immigrant settling in the province.
The application for permanent immigration to Quebec is made at two successive levels. The first step, in Quebec, is to obtain a favorable permanent selection decision from the Ministère de l’Immigration, de la Francisation et de l’Intégration (MIFI) and the issuance of a CSQ. The second step is obtaining permanent residence from the Government of Canada which involves a medical examination, criminal record check, and collection of biometric data.
Quebec has several different programs to facilitate the selection of immigrants who meet provincial socio-economic needs.
The Programme de l’expérience québécoise (PEQ) aims to enable Quebec to benefit more quickly from the contribution of people who have already mastered French, are in the province, and are already integrated into Quebec society. The PEQ allows foreign workers and Quebec graduates who are employed to transition from temporary to permanent status. In both cases, eligibility criteria include having resided, studied, or worked in Quebec, demonstrating an advanced intermediate level of oral French, and, since January 2020, obtaining an attestation of learning Quebec values.
People who wish to settle permanently and work in Quebec, other than those in the Business Class, may also apply under the Regular Skilled Worker Program (RSWP). Applicants interested in immigrating to Quebec through the RSWP must first create an Expression of Interest profile in Arrima, after which they are placed in a pool of candidates. MIFI then invites the most qualified candidates based on a selection grid that takes into account factors such as education, work experience, age, knowledge of French and English, among others. Although work experience in Quebec is not required for this program, having a connection to the province is rewarded with points.
The Quebec government also recently launched three new pilot programs targeting orderlies, workers in the food processing sector, and tech workers in artificial intelligence, information technology and visual effects.
All three pilot programs are accepting applications for the current year and will allow the province to select up to 550 permanent immigration candidates and their family members per year.
Prior to the pandemic, the ruling Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) had implemented its plan to reduce immigration levels, despite the difficulties employers were having in filling job vacancies. The pandemic has exacerbated the shortage because of a reduced number of immigrants arriving in the country.
To offset the severe labour shortage, Quebec Immigration Minister Nadine Girault recently stated that immigration thresholds would be adjusted upwards as the province emerges from the current health crisis. The province’s goal for the coming year is to welcome between 43,000 and 44,500 immigrants. The majority of new admissions to Quebec, 62 per cent, are expected to come from the province’s economic immigration programs.
Recent announcements are part of current multi-level government efforts to stimulate the economy. Immigration is expected to play a key role in Canada’s economic recovery and the goal is to gradually increase its immigration levels over the next few years. The 2021–2023 federal immigration plan aims to bring in more than 400,000 new permanent residents per year by 2023.
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