District of Columbia, US

Jun 18 2019

Passage of Bill Leads to Overhaul of Quebec’s Regular Skilled Worker Program


At a Glance

  • Quebec’s National Assembly passed a bill which will overhaul the Regular Skilled Worker Program in the province. The stated goals of the bill are to better align applicants with current job market requirements in Quebec; to reduce processing times; and to emphasize French language abilities.
  • Once the bill goes into effect, the government will abandon the processing of all Certificates of Selection (the first step in the Regular Skilled Worker Program application process) submitted before August 2, 2018 that have not yet been processed, which will total approximately 16,000 applications. Foreign nationals who submitted applications before this date will have to reapply through the online Arrima system.
  • There is no impact on foreign nationals who already hold a Certificate of Selection through the Regular Skilled Worker Program.

The situation

The National Assembly passed the bill proposing to overhaul Quebec’s Regular Skilled Worker Program, causing thousands of pending applications to be canceled.

A closer look

  • Applications submitted before August 2, 2018. Once the bill goes into effect, all pending Certificate of Selection (CSQ) applications—the first step in the Permanent Residence process under the Regular Skilled Workers Program – submitted prior to this date will be canceled. This is estimated to be approximately 16,000 applications. August 2, 2018 marks the date the government transitioned to the new electronic ‘expression of interest’ system, called Arrima, which aligns with the government’s current goals in attracting certain foreign nationals; before this date, candidates were selected in the order that their applications were received.
    • Impact. Despite how long their applications may have been pending, affected foreign nationals will have their processing fees refunded and will need to reapply for a CSQ through the Arrima system. Not all current applicants may qualify under the new values-based test and those that do not may need to consider other avenues to permanent residence.
    • No impact on applicants with Certificate of Selection. Foreign nationals holding a valid CSQ under the Regular Skilled Workers Program will not have their application canceled and will be able to proceed with their permanent residence applications to the federal government.
  • Pending applications submitted after August 2, 2018. Applications submitted after August 2, 2018 will be processed as filed under the electronic CSQ application system, Arrima. 


  • New application process. Foreign nationals interested in applying or who now have to reapply for the Regular Skilled Workers Program can take action to express their interest in immigrating to Quebec using the Arrima system.
    • Impact. Once in effect, the new bill is expected to decrease adjudication times from the current 36 months down to six months. The bill gives the Quebec government more authority to decide who is able to obtain permanent residence in the province.
  • Alternative application options. Foreign nationals who speak French at an advanced-intermediate level (as demonstrated through a government-approved test) or who have studied entirely in French for the requisite amount of time will continue to have the option to apply under the Quebec Experience Program (PEQ).
    • Impact. Foreign nationals who speak French at an advanced-intermediate level will continue to have an advantage in applying for permanent residence in Quebec. Foreign nationals who do not qualify for the PEQ program, or who are not competitive under the new program, may need to consider settling permanently in a province other than Quebec.


The government has stated that the new system will make the process of finding appropriate candidates for permanent residence more efficient since it will match applicants with labor needs. The passage of the bill was strongly opposed by the more liberal parties in the National Assembly.

Looking ahead

The bill is expected to go into effect when approved by the lieutenant governor for Quebec over the coming months. Fragomen’s webinar on June 20, 2019 will provide updates additional information on Quebec’s immigration system. Sign up for the webinar here.

Although the Quebec government is limiting immigration this year in order to refocus their efforts on selecting immigrants to the province, once these programs are in place, they are expected to increase immigration numbers over the next three years as shown below:


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].