Quebec: new pilot projects and changes to immigration programs coming in 2021

On Wednesday, October 28, 2020, the Quebec government announced details of three new permanent immigration pilot programs it is planning to launch in 2021 to alleviate labour shortages in the province.

The three new pilots are:

  • the pilot program for personal support workers;
  • the pilot program for workers in the fields of artificial intelligence (AI), information technology (IT) and visual effects;
  • the pilot program for workers in food processing.

Full text of the regulation project is published on October 28, 2020 in the Gazette officielle du Québec, which also announces a 45-day consultation period to collect comments from stakeholders on these programs before their official launch.

Changes have also been announced in the regulations pertaining to the Entrepreneurial Program, Self-Employed Program and Collective Sponsorship of Refugees.

New pilots are designed to “attract and retain people whose skills meet the specific needs of the Quebec labor market” and will last for five years.

Under the PSW pilot up to 550 principal applicants will be selected per year, and their family members will be also eligible for Quebec selection certificates under this program.

The pilot program for the food processing sector workers will provide a pathway to permanent immigration for 550 temporary foreign workers.

550 principal applicants will also be selected under the pilot for those working in artificial
intelligence, information technology and visual effects areas, evenly split between these areas. The aim is to both retain the temporary foreign workers already working in these areas in Quebec and to attract international talent.

Here is a brief summary of what is new in the business programs:

Self-employed applicants – the quota is set to 50 permanent selection applications for the period from November 1, 2020 to September 30, 2021.

Entrepreneurs – Stream 1 (a new business set up with the assistance of a business incubator or accelerator) will see a maximum of 25 applications that will be accepted between November 1, 2020 and September 30, 2021.

Entrepreneurs – Stream 2 (an independent business set up or purchase) is suspended for the next year to allow sufficient time to review it and introduce further changes.

Note, however, there is no limit to applications submitted by self-employed candidates and entrepreneurs in Stream 1 who demonstrate upper intermediate to high proficiency in oral expression and oral understanding or French.

The selection criteria for Regular Quebec Skilled Workers declaring their interest to immigrate to Quebec through “Arrima”, Quebec’s immigration application management system, have also been updated and are now in effect until November 1, 2021.

In addition, Quebec government has introduced changes and a new admission period for applications under the Private Collective Sponsorship of Refugees Abroad Program. A maximum of 750 sponsorship applications of groups of two to five people will be allowed to be submitted between April 6 and May 5, 2021. Sponsorship applications will now have to be submitted online in order to be randomly selected through a draw later on.

According to the government press release, no new refugee sponsorship applications made by designated organizations, both in Montreal and outside the city will be allowed: a temporary ban is introduced until November 1, 2021. This decision has been taken in order to complete the criminal and administrative investigations because of “serious allegations which question the integrity” of certain refugee protection organizations, and introduce changes into the program, if necessary.

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