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On 21 March, 2012, the Quebec Ministry of Immigration and Cultural Communities (MICC) issued a statement outlining new policies for immigration to Quebec through the Quebec Skilled Worker Program. These new policies took effect retroactively on 20 March, 2012.

Potential applicants to the QSW program are now divided into three groups based on their "€œareas of training", or fields of study, as well as on additional selection criteria. The groups are classified as follows:

Group 1

Applicants fall into Group 1 if they fulfill one or more of seven criteria. An unlimited number of applications from Group 1 will be accepted for processing by Quebec Immigration. The following individuals are eligible to apply:

  1. Temporary workers currently residing in Quebec
  2. Students who have obtained, or are about to obtain, a diploma awarded by a Quebec institution
  3. Young people in Quebec on a youth exchange program subject to an international agreement, such as the Working Holiday Program, who are working full time in Quebec
  4. Applicants residing in and submitting an application to Quebec who were formerly Canadian citizens
  5. Applicants who have already been informed by Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) that they are admissible for Permanent Residency processing
  6. Applicants, or their spouses, who hold a diploma awarded by a teaching institution in an "area of training" (field of study) that allows them to receive 12 or 16 points on the province'€™s selection grid (click here for more about the section grid)
    • The diploma must be obtained less than five years before the date of application, or the applicant must have practiced in this field on a full-time basis for at least one of five years preceding the date of application
    • Areas of training may receive different points depending upon whether the degree was obtained inside or outside of Quebec
  7. Applicants with a validated offer of employment from a Quebec employer

Group 2

A maximum number of 14,300 applications will be accepted between 21 March 2012 and 31 March 2013 in this category. Applicants will be classified into Group 2 if they fall under one of the following two situations:

  1. Applicants, or their spouses, who hold a diploma awarded by a teaching institution in an area of training which allows them to receive 6 points under the province's selection grid may apply under Group 2 (click here to read more about the selection grid)
    • The diploma must be obtained less than five years before the date of application, or the applicant must have practiced in this field on a full-time basis for at least one of five years preceding the date of application.
    • Areas of training may receive different points depending on whether the degree was obtained inside or outside of Quebec
  2. Applicants, or their spouses, who hold or are currently pursuing a Quebec diploma or the equivalent outside of Quebec, which applies to holders of other Canadian diplomas, or individuals who hold foreign diplomas in a regulated trade or profession who have already received authorization to practice this trade in Quebec.
    • As above, the diploma must be obtained less than five years before the date of application, or the applicant must have practiced in this field on a full-time basis for at least one of five years preceding the date of application

Group 3

Potential applicants who do not fall under Groups 1 and 2 fall under Group 3. This year, no applications from Group 3 will be accepted for processing.

Processing fees for the primary applicant under the QSW will be raised on 1 April 2012 from $406 to $750.

Additional Changes

Additional changes have also been made to Quebec Business Class applications. For the Quebec Immigrant Investor program, a maximum of 2,700 applications will be received up until 31 March. For Quebec Entrepreneurs and Self-Employed candidates, a maximum of 215 will be accepted.

Quebec Government Rationale

The primary reason for enacting the above measures is so that Quebec immigration can reduce its current backlog of applications, and so that Quebec may better serve those applicants who do get processed. In recent years, the number of applications has risen dramatically, from around 30,000 in 2008 to over 65,000 in 2011. Because of this huge increase, processing times have risen and can now take more than 2 years for some categories of permanent residency. The Quebec government believes that it must take due time to produce a decision on a subject that will so greatly affect the lives of applicants and their families.

"€œI understand that Quebec is taking steps to better serve the needs of both the province and its future residents," says Attorney David Cohen. "€œGiven the new system, especially with regard to Group 2 applicants, I encourage those who are eligible and committed to immigrating to Quebec to submit quickly to ensure their place in the processing queue."

The government hopes that by narrowing the selection criteria of the QSW program, the province will be able to more readily choose immigrants that will satisfy it€™s economic and labour market needs. It anticipates that it will be able to stabilize the amount of applications processed in the next three years to 50,000 a year, with the hope that a greater percentage of those reviewed will be admitted to the province in a timely manner, and that that refusals will be diminished.

It is important to note that these changes have been announced specifically for the upcoming year, and may or may not persist after March 2013. Regardless, it is crucial that potential immigrants to Quebec are aware of their possible changes in eligibility and take steps accordingly to address any changes that arise on both the regional and federal levels.

To find out if you are eligible for Quebec immigration or one of the over 60 Canadian immigration programs, please click START YOUR FREE ASSESSMENT above.

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