Connecticut, US

Jul 10 2020

New Restrictions for the Quebec Experience Program Forthcoming

Canada

At a Glance

  • Effective July 22, 2020, Quebec’s new immigration minister will implement restrictions to the ​Quebec Experience Program (PEQ).
  • Although the previous immigration minister had proposed stricter PEQ restrictions which were set to go into effect on June 29, 2020, due to a change in government, those restrictions were not implemented.
  • The new restrictions are less stringent than the previously-planned ones, but they still increase work experience and language requirements.
  • The changes will make it more difficult for many foreign nationals, including temporary residents working or studying in Quebec, to apply for permanent residence in the province.

The situation

Effective July 22, 2020, Quebec’s new immigration minister will implement restrictions to the ​Quebec Experience Program (PEQ). Although the previous immigration minister had proposed stricter PEQ restrictions which were set to go into effect on June 29, 2020, due to a change in government, those restrictions were never implemented.

A closer look

The following rules will go into effect starting July 22, 2020.

Category New Rule Current Rules Impact

PEQ (Temporary Foreign Workers)

  • Applicants who have worked in Quebec for one year under a work permit prior to July 22, 2020, will require at least 12 months of full-time work experience in Quebec within 24 months prior to filing a Quebec Selection Certificate (CSQ) application.

  • Applicants currently abroad will be required to have at least 24 months of full-time work experience in Quebec within 36 months of submitting a CSQ application.

Currently, only one year of full-time work experience is required.

Foreign nationals will have to wait longer before filing a CSQ application under the new rules.

PEQ (Quebec Graduate)- Work Experience

  • Foreign students residing in Quebec who hold a diploma from a Quebec academic institution will need to acquire 12 months of full-time work experience prior to filing a CSQ application. Work experience acquired during a mandatory internship as part of the program of study will count for a maximum of three months of full-time work experience.

*Foreign students who obtain a diploma from an educational institution in Quebec by December 31, 2020 will be eligible to file an application under the rules in place prior to this date.

Currently, there is no work experience requirement for this category.

Foreign nationals will have to wait longer before filing a CSQ application under the new rules.

PEQ (Quebec Graduate)- Vocational Training

  • Applicants registered for a vocational training program (1,800 hours or more) at an educational institute in Quebec will be required to have at least 18 months of full-time work experience.

  • Applicants registered in a vocational training program (less than 1,800 hours) at an educational institute in Quebec will not be eligible for the PEQ.

Currently, there is no work experience requirement for this category.

Foreign nationals will have to wait longer before filing a CSQ application under the new rules.

French language requirement for spouses

The rule requiring spouses to demonstrate a Level 4 oral proficiency on one of the province’s recognized tests in French in order to obtain a CSQ will not go into effect until July 22, 2021. 

Currently, there is no language requirement.

The change is meant to ease the principal applicant’s spouse’s integration into the Quebec society, but will make it harder for spouses to qualify for the PEQ program.

French language certificates

Language certificates obtained by applicants through a language course offered by the government of Quebec showing completion of a Level 7 French proficiency will no longer be accepted to satisfy the French language requirement.

These language certificates currently satisfy the French language requirement in order to submit a CSQ.

Foreign nationals will have to take the designated standardized French exams to satisfy the language requirement.

 

General impact

The changes will make it difficult for many foreign nationals, including temporary residents working or studying in Quebec, to apply for permanent residence in Quebec, as they may no longer qualify for a CSQ under the restrictive rules of the PEQ program.  Foreign nationals who will no longer qualify for a CSQ under the new rules should contact their immigration professional for additional guidance.

Background

  • Definition of CSQ. Foreign nationals applying for permanent residence in Quebec must first apply for a CSQ from the Ministry of Immigration, Francization and Integration. When issued, CSQs declare that the foreign national has been selected to settle in Quebec and allows the foreign national to submit an application for permanent residence to the federal immigration authorities.
  • History of PEQ. The PEQ was originally introduced under a Liberal government to give foreign students graduating from post-secondary schools in the province and those with work experience a faster path to Canadian citizenship. The previous immigration minister tried to increase restrictions on the program to make it harder for applicants to qualify, but the three rounds of reforms, introduced in November 2019, January 2020 and May 2020, were rejected.

 

Looking ahead

The new immigration minister has stated that the latest reforms to the PEQ will be the final version of the program and applicants should not expect further reforms. It is likely that the new immigration minister’s position on immigration will be more open than her predecessor; for example, she is expected to introduce three pilot programs which would allow eligible foreign nationals in the industry a faster route to permanent residence, including a pilot program for foreign nationals working in the artificial intelligence field.

This alert is for informational purposes only. If you have any questions, please contact the global immigration professional with whom you work at Fragomen or send an email to [email protected].