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Protestors gathered in Montreal on Monday to campaign against reforms to the Quebec Experience Program (PEQ) proposed by Immigration Minister Simon Jolin-Barrette.
The demonstration took place outside Jolin-Barrette’s office on St-Laurent Boulevard in the city.
The provincial immigration minister plans to make it more difficult to qualify for the popular program, mainly by increasing work experience requirements.
The changes are Jolin-Barrette’s second attempt at reforming the PEQ after he was embarrassingly forced to reverse changes made in fall 2019.
But demonstrators are equally as unhappy with the new proposed changes to the program, which offers foreign students and temporary workers with a fast track to permanent residence.
Under the changes, temporary foreign workers will require three years of experience in the last four, while graduates will need one or two years of work experience to qualify for Quebec immigration.
The changes will also see target processing times for the PEQ increase to six months to allow “consistency and better equity” between the PEQ and the Quebec Skilled Worker Program, according to a press release from the Ministry of Immigration, Francisation and Integration (MIFI).
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Further reforms will see the completion of an advanced intermediate level French course offered in Quebec by an educational institution removed as an acceptable proof of French knowledge.
In a further change that will come into force in a year, spouses of principal applicants will be required to demonstrate oral knowledge of French at level 4.
Figures show the number of CSQs issued through the PEQ has risen dramatically since 2010.
In 2019, 14,748 CSQs were issued through the program, compared to the 2010 total of 1,895. In 2019, the number of foreign workers to receive CSQs rose to 9,881 from 5,566 in 2018, an increase of 78 percent.
Proposed Changes to Quebec Experience Program
1) Increased Work Experience
- Temporary workers will be required to have 36 months of full-time work experience during the 48 months preceding their request for permanent selection. A transitional measure is expected before the new regulations come into force.
- Quebec graduates will require 12 or 24 months of full-time work experience to qualify for the PEQ. Until the regulation comes into force, those with a Post-Graduation Work Permit can apply through the temporary worker category if they meet the conditions to benefit from the transitional measure.
2) Knowledge of French for Spouses
Spouses of principal applicants will have to demonstrate a level 4 oral knowledge of French. This measure will only come into force in a year.
3) Proof of French Ability
A certificate of success of an advanced intermediate level French course offered in Quebec by an educational institution will no longer be admissible as proof of knowledge of French.
4) Processing Time
Target processing times will increase from 20 days to 6 months, given “the significant increase in requests submitted in the PEQ”.