Immigration to Quebec – Quebec Skilled Worker and Experience Program

The province of Quebec, as a result of the Canada-Quebec Accord on Immigration, has its own immigration programs with different selection criteria than those administered by the IRCC (Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, formerly CIC) federally. In many ways, these criteria are more predictable than those pertaining to federal immigration programs.

Any prospective immigrant to Quebec has to pass through two stages in his or her immigration process:

  • They must be selected by the Ministère de l’immigration, de la diversité et de l’inclusion (MIDI) — the Quebec counterpart of IRCC — which administers all Quebec immigration programs, and receive a Quebec Selection Certificate (Certificat de Sélection du Québec, or CSQ).
  • Once a CSQ is issued, an application for permanent residence has to be filed with IRCC. While Quebec is responsible for the selection of its own immigrants, Canadian federal immigration authorities take care of the applicants’ background checks, security, criminality and health issues, and issuance of permanent resident visas.

On February 26, 2016, MIDI announced the re-opening of its Skilled Worker Program (QSW), which now functions only through the online “Mon projet Quebec” portal. On June 13, 2016, it will start accepting applications for CSQ towards a first quota of 5,000 applications (those who created online accounts prior to February 19, 2016). The second intake period for 5,000 more CSQ applications will take place between June 20, 2016 and March 31, 2017; the exact date will be announced later.

The online system has been plagued with repeated technical problems and delays since its inception. The portal is currently being upgraded, and this will be the last year applications for CSQ will be received on a first come, first served basis. In 2017, the portal will be expected to function in a similar way to how the federal Express Entry system does: the applicants with the highest number of points will be given an invitation to submit their full applications for CSQ.

Restriction on the dates of submission are valid only for the applications for CSQ made under the Quebec Skilled Workers (QSW) Program. Applicants who qualify under the Quebec Experience Class (PEQ) or with a validated job from a Quebec employer, or are residing and working or studying in Quebec under a valid work or study permit, may submit their CSQ application at any time.

The Quebec Skilled Worker Program selects applicants through a multi-stage point system, evaluating their area of training, education, experience, age, language, partner or spouse’s qualifications (if applicable), offer of employment (not mandatory), connection with Quebec and children. Settlement funds are also mandatory; however, the requisite amount is lower than in any federal program, which makes QSW even more attractive to some prospective immigrants. A number of areas of training in engineering, health care, finances and banking, and information technology are considered “priority” and allow qualified candidates to collect bonus points and reach the minimum passing score to receive CSQ, often even without knowledge of the French language.

The Quebec Experience Program (PEQ) is the best and fastest immigration program for qualified candidates who have studied or worked in the province of Quebec. Candidates under PEQ are still allowed to submit their applications in paper format.

The Quebec Business Programs consist of Entrepreneur, Investor and Self-Employed sub-classes.

Each has its own requirements, selection process, fees, quotas and processing times.

Entrepreneur Program — for candidates interested in coming to Quebec to establish or acquire a business — requires a candidate to have a net worth of at least CAD 300,000, have managerial experience in a business that they either owned or controlled, and be willing and able to establish or acquire a business in Quebec which will create at least one job position in Quebec, to qualify.

Investor Program — for candidates wishing to participate in Quebec economic development by making an investment — the requirements to qualify are a net worth of at least CAD 1.6 million, managerial experience, and the willingness to make a government-secured, no-interest investment of CAD 800,000 for a period of five years. Some approved Canadian financial institutions offer financing of this investment.

Self-Employed Program — for candidates interested in creating their own employment by practicing their profession or trade — to qualify, one must have a net worth of at least CAD 100,000 and have work experience in the profession or trade one plans to practice.

Quebec is an attractive destination for young families: it is the only province in Canada with government-regulated child care, which costs parents only a nominal fee. Newcomers studying French as a second language receive a student allowance during their studies, and some are qualified for financial compensation for their French-language studies they took in their home countries. Vehicle insurance is around half what it is in Ontario, its neighbor province. And university tuition for residents of Quebec is the lowest in Canada. In 2015, The Economist ranked Montreal as the second best city in the world to live in.