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Quebec Adopts Special Immigration Program For International Students And Foreign Workers

by David Cohen

Along the lines of the federal Canadian Experience Class, introduced last year by Citizenship and Immigration Canada, the province of Quebec is launching its own accelerated and simplified immigration program for international students and specialized foreign workers who meet labour market priorities in the province. 

Quebec's Immigration Minister Yolande James, has recently announced new regulations governing the selection of applicants for immigration to Quebec.  These regulations address the importance of attracting and retaining foreign skilled workers and international students for Quebec's economic growth.

The new regulations involve two components.  The first is the new fast-track immigration program for foreign students and workers in Quebec, which should come into effect in the first few weeks of July.  The second involves proposed new regulations to simplify the selection of economic class applicants by removing some preliminary processing as well as the "Adaptability" factor in the selection grid for Quebec Skilled Workers.

The new regulations will enable the selection of candidates who can best respond to Quebec's labour market needs.  Three categories of applicants will be affected.

The first two listed below, apply to Quebec immigration candidates who are already in Quebec as international students or foreign workers.  Eligible candidates will be given a Certificate of Selection of Québec (CSQ), which is Quebec's nomination certificate.  They will receive priority processing for immigration to Canada.

1 - International Students: To qualify for a CSQ, international students must have obtained a secondary school vocational diploma, a diploma of college studies in a technical program, or a university diploma attesting to a bachelor's degree, a master's degree, or a doctorate from an educational institution recognized by the Quebec Ministry of Education.  To be recognized for Quebec immigration, these studies must have been completed in French or the applicants must have completed at least one year of full-time studies in French at the secondary or post-secondary level or have successfully completed a level B1 French course at a Quebec educational institution.

Candidates may apply from abroad if they have obtained their diploma in Quebec no more than 24 months before the new regulations come into effect.

In her announcement, Minister James highlighted the fact that these international students have already settled into Quebec society and have Quebec educational certifications that Quebec employers are familiar with.  She expects that the program will increase the number of international students who choose to study in Quebec.

2 - Specialized temporary workers: To qualify for this fast-track CSQ program, foreign workers must be lawfully in Quebec at the time of application submission.  They must have had full-time employment in Quebec in a skilled occupation for a period of at least 12 months in the 24 months preceding the date of application. 

Foreign worker applicants are also subject to a French language requirement.  They must have pursued full-time studies for at least one year at the secondary or post-secondary level, or have taken a level B1 French course at a Quebec educational institution.  Alternatively, an applicant can submit documentation with their application, certifying that they meet the French language requirements of a professional order, or that they have received satisfactory results on a standardized French language test.

The third category of applicant affected by the new regulations, are those who are applying from abroad, as described below.

3 - Quebec immigration applicants whose profiles correspond to the province's occupations that are short of workers:  Qualified Quebec immigration applicants who have training/experience in occupations that are considered in high-demand by the province of Quebec will have their immigration applications fast-tracked.  Quebec's labour market is in need of applicants at all skills levels, from welders to laboratory technicians, to nurses, and aeronautical engineers.  Applicants with training/experience in Quebec's in-demand occupations have the best employment prospects and will therefore receive priority processing in their CSQ applications. 

Quebec Immigration has issued a "List of Preferred Areas of Training".  As of October 14, 2009, qualified applicants who have received a diploma listed on this document in the past five years before submitting their application will receive priority processing.

About The Author

David Cohen is senior partner at the Canadian immigration law firm of Campbell Cohen and has been practicing Canadian immigration law for almost 30 years. He graduated from Montreal's McGill University, Faculty of Law, and is a member of the Quebec and Canadian Bar Associations as well as the American Immigration Lawyers Association. Most recently, he was appointed a governor of the Fondation du Barreau du Québec. David Cohen is managing editor of the Canadian Immigration Newsletter, a monthly publication with readership of more than 150,000 subscribers. He also moderates a web-based public discussion forum, which covers topics relating to Canadian migration and settlement.

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