The Immigration, Diversity and Inclusion Minister (MIDI) for Quebec Kathleen Weil has announced the reopening of its online skilled worker program (QSWP), commencing 13 June 2016. On this date, an initial quota of 5,000 skilled worker visa applications will be accepted as part of an overall quota of 10,000; The second batch of 5,000 visas will be issued later in the year.
The news comes following months of delays with the online system leaving more than 42,000 skilled worker visa applicants waiting since 26 February 2016 (the date the program was set to open) to submit their applications using the problematic online visa gateway.
According to some commentators, the reopening of the online application system was somewhat surprising as there was an understanding that the February 2016 intake would be the last of its kind. In future Quebec may have an economic immigration system similar to the Express Entry system similar to the immigration system for the rest of Canada. Under this system you firstly need to make a 'Declaration of Interest' and based on this may be selected to proceed further with your immigration application.
Canadian Visa Application dates
The following information concerning Quebec skilled worker visa applications has been released by the MIDI:
- June 13th – 20th, 2016: First Reception Period - Applicants who have created an online user account will be able to submit their application for a Quebec Certificate of Selection (CSQ) and pay the required fees. A maximum of 5,000 applications will be received during this period on a first come first served basis.
- June 20th 2016 – March 31st, 2017: Second Reception Period to be confirmed by MIDI - Applicants who have created an online user account will be able to submit their application for a CSQ and pay the required fees. A maximum of 5,000 applications will be received on a first come first served basis, during this second period.
Applications for a Quebec skilled worker visa outside of the times allotted above will not be considered, while those eligible under the Quebec Experience Program – or with a validated employment offer – can lodge an application at any time and are not restricted to applying during the specified periods. Furthermore, applications made by those with a valid study or work permit are also exempt from the time restrictions stated.
The Quebec skilled worker visa program
The QSWP visa program features more than 75 eligible occupations, plus areas of training that make applicants eligible for a Quebec CSQ, without a job offer in place. The Areas of Training list features a variety of study courses that award points to applicants and a spouse or de facto spouse for diplomas acquired outside Quebec or obtained in Quebec or recognized as Quebec equivalent.
The QSWP seeks to select candidates based on the highest probability of successful economic settlement potential, with foreign nationals seeking to settle permanently in Quebec needing to undergo a two-step immigration process:
- They must be selected by the MIDI, Quebec's immigration authority. Selected applicants will receive a Quebec Certificate of Selection (CSQ).
- An approved CSQ holder must file an application with Canadian federal immigration authorities. The federal government's role in evaluating a Quebec application for permanent residence is mainly limited to issues of health and criminality.
The Quebec skilled worker program, unlike Canada's federal Express Entry Immigration System or programs offered by other provinces under Provincial Nominee Programs (PNP), remains the only program whereby applications are not processed on a first come first served basis.
The Quebec government looks set to make the biggest immigration changes to its Immigration Act in 47 years by introducing an Express Entry-style immigration system as of 2017.