Quebec Experience Program: MIFI Softens Reforms, Reduces Work Experience


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Quebec has moved to soften planned changes to the Quebec Experience Program (PEQ) following outcry during the recent consultation period.

Measures announced on Thursday, July 9 include:

  • The introduction of a transitional clause for international students already in Quebec.
  • A softening of new work experience requirements for certain international students.
  • A reduction in the proposed experience requirement for temporary workers from three years to two years.

The decision follows protests by students and an objection letter from Quebec universities against the changes, which will take effect on July 22, 2020.

It also comes following a change of immigration minister for Quebec, with the hardline Simon Jolin-Barrette moved aside by the governing Coalition Avenir Quebec in favour of Nadine Girault.

Jolin-Barrette was responsible for a botched attempt at reforming the PEQ, which was abandoned after two weeks in November 2019.

The second attempt at reforms, announced in May 2020, proposed that international graduates would require one or two years of work experience to qualify for the PEQ. Previously there was no work experience requirement. Temporary foreign workers were also to require three years of experience in the last four to qualify.

Further changes proposed a target processing time of six months, French requirements for spouses of principal applicants and a narrowing of what is considered acceptable proof of French knowledge.

Thursday’s announcement from the Ministry of Immigration, Francisation and Integration (MIFI) also included a third proposed pilot program for the food processing sector, to go with the pilots for orderlies and technology workers revealed in the initial announcement.

Transition Clause For International Students

MIFI has introduced a transitional measure allowing international students already in Quebec to qualify for the Quebec Experience Program (PEQ) “under the conditions in effect before the coming into force of the new regulation”. The measure applies to those who have already obtained an eligible qualification, or will do so before December 31, 2020.

Work Experience Requirement For International Students

The work experience requirement for international students has been changed to allow mandatory internships as part of study programs to count up to a maximum of 3 months of full-time work. For holders of a vocational diploma, the work experience requirement is reduced to 18 months.

Work Experience Requirement for Temporary Workers

The work experience requirement for temporary workers will be set at 24 months. The MIFI statement said: “This change will promote the retention of foreign workers in Quebec businesses and reduce the administrative procedures for employers, particularly with regard to the need to renew permits.”

Three New Pilot Programs

Quebec is also working on the implementation of three new immigration pilot programs, targeting shortages in specific sectors:

  • Artificial intelligence, information technology and cinema sectors.
  • Food processing sector.

Immigration Minister Girault said: “We recognize the contribution of foreign students and temporary workers to Quebec society while aiming for a better match between the needs of the workforce and our immigration programs.

“This reform of the Quebec Experience Program is a balanced solution that meets the social and economic challenges of Quebec.”

Read More

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The MIFI release also sought to clarify why the changes were being made, including emphasising the increasing popularity of the PEQ, “resulting in the vast majority of skilled workers being selected” through the program.

“This limits the number of invitations that can be made by Arrima,” the statement said, referring to Expression of Interest process for the Quebec Skilled Worker Program.

“A reform was therefore necessary to ensure a better adequacy with the labour needs of Quebec and to strike a balance with our immigration programs.”

In 2019, 14,748 Quebec Selection Certificates (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.

Selection Certificates Through Quebec Experience Program 

Video: Study in Quebec: A Permanent Immigration Pathway to Canada for International Students

Changes to Quebec Experience Program To Take Effect July 22

1) Increased Work Experience

  1. Temporary workers will be required to have 24 months of full-time work experience during the 48 months preceding their request for permanent selection. 
  2. Quebec graduates will require 12 or 24 months of full-time work experience to qualify for the PEQ. Mandatory internships as part of study programs to count up to a maximum of 3 months of full-time work. For holders of a vocational diploma, the work experience requirement is 18 months.

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”.

5) Pilot Programs

  1. Orderlies
  2. Artificial intelligence, information technology and cinema sectors.
  3. Food processing sector.

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