Quebec skilled worker Expression of Interest system: New details published

Quebec has published new details about its new Expression of Interest system, which will manage the profiles of eligible Quebec Skilled Worker Program candidates.

The new Expression of Interest (EOI) system will replace Quebec’s current first-come, first-served application process for its Quebec Skilled Worker Program (QSWP) along with the problem-plagued Mon Projet Quebec application portal.

Under the newly published regulations, which come into force August 2, anyone interested in the QSWP will have to first submit an online Expression of Interest  profile to Quebec’s Immigration Ministry (MIDI).

In a first step, anyone 18-years-old or older can submit a profile to QSWP’s Expression of Interest bank. Profiles in the bank will receive a score based on factors including skilled work experience, education and training, proficiency in French or English, financial self-sufficiency, and others.  In order to be considered, all profiles will have to meet the minimum required score of two points in education (secondary school general diploma) and receive the one point that is awarded for financial self-sufficiency.

The points awarded for most QSWP selection factors are the same as those awarded under the current QSWP points grid, with the exception of a Validated Employment Offer, which increases from a maximum of 10 to 14 points. Some variables under the “Stay and Family in Quebec” factor are also weighted differently, though the maximum points available under the factor remains 8.

Quebec Skilled Worker Program selection factors
Education (up to 14 points; cut-off score = 2 points)
Areas of training (up to 12 points)
Work experience (up to 8 points)
Age (up to 16 points)
Language proficiency (up to 22 points)
Stay and Family in Quebec (up to 8 points)
Spouse/common-law partner characteristics (up to 17 points)
Valid job offer (up to 14 points)
Presence of accompanying children (up to 8 points)
Financial self-sufficiency (1 point)

To find out if you are eligible for Quebec immigration, fill out a free assessment form.

In a second step, profiles that meet the initial requirements for education and financial self-sufficiency must then meet the required cut-off score of 43 points for a grouping of factors called Employability, which is based on a candidate’s score in education and training, work experience, age, language proficiency, time spent in Quebec and family in Quebec and a validated employment offer. A job offer is an added bonus but is not required in order to be eligible for the QSWP.

The Employability cut-off score for candidates with a spouse or common-law partner is 52. In addition to the six factors above, the additional factor of a spouse’s education and training, work experience and language proficiency is also considered.

In the third step, candidates who meet the Employability cut-off score must then meet the minimum threshold under a grouping of factors called Selection, which is a passing score of 50 points (59 with a spouse or common-law partner). This step takes into account the points awarded under the six factors considered for Employability, with the addition of children and the financial self-sufficiency. A spouse or common-law partner’s education and training, work experience and language proficiency is also applied in such cases.

It’s important to note that meeting the minimum threshold of 50 points under the Selection  does not necessarily mean a candidate will be invited to apply for a Quebec Selection Certificate (Certificate de sélection du Québec, or CSQ).

Invitations may be issued to the highest scoring candidates, but incoming changes to Quebec’s Immigration Act state that other selection criteria or conditions may apply. Section 44 of the updated Act states that “criterion relating to a foreign national’s ability to successfully stay or settle in Quebec, such as training or a trade or occupation” may determine invitations. Other criteria may include “a region of destination in Québec, a country or region affected by a humanitarian crisis or the existence of an international commitment.”

Quebec’s Immigration Minister, David Heurtel, has said in media interviews that candidates with work experience in occupations for which shortages have been identified in Quebec’s outlying regions could be moved to the front of the line for selection under the new system.

Quebec’s Liberal government has touted a reformed immigration system as key to addressing labour shortages that it says could leave as many as one million jobs unfilled over the next 10 years.

Candidates who are invited to apply for a CSQ will have 90 days to submit their application.

Heurtel has said processing times for CSQ applications from QSWP candidates will be reduced to less than 12 months under the new system, a welcome change from the 32-month processing time that applications filed in 2017 faced earlier this year.

Anyone who receives a CSQ can then apply to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) for permanent residence.

To find out if you are eligible for Quebec immigration, fill out a free assessment form.

Under the outgoing first-come, first-served model, candidates who did not qualify for cap-exempt status under the QSWP could only submit an application at specified times of the year — and only until a fixed quota was met.

Now, anyone 18 or older can submit an EOI profile at any time.

The possibility of Quebec favouring certain applications over others is one potential drawback of the move away from a first-come, first-served system, which ensured that all accepted applications were given a fair shake.

David Heurtel recently said on Twitter that the new system will help Quebec’s immigration process perform better, all with an eye on the province’s economy.

“Quebec’s government is putting in place an immigration system that is cutting edge, effective and performance-driven; a system that’s more in line with the actual needs of Quebec society and its labour market,” Heurtel tweeted in French.

Quebec’s Liberal government has touted a reformed immigration system as key to addressing labour shortages that it says could leave as many as one million jobs unfilled over the next 10 years.

Whereas immigration to other Canadian provinces and territories is managed jointly with Canada’s federal government, Quebec’s immigration system is largely independent and only relies on the Government of Canada to approve the candidates it selects for temporary or permanent residence.

Old Quebec Skilled Worker systemNew Quebec Skilled Worker system
First-come, first-served modelExpression of Interest model
Interested individuals submit their application through the Mon project Quebec online application intake portalInterested individuals declare their interest in the program and enter the Quebec Expression of Interest Bank by completing an online profile
Single applicants must score at least 50 points, and applicants with a spouse/common-law partner must score at least 59 points across 10 selection factorsCandidates in the Quebec Expression of Interest Bank will be assigned a score based on selection factors and wait to be selected by the Government of Quebec during regular draws
Candidates wait for intake periods or submit an application that remains filed in the Quebec system for an indeterminate length of timeCandidates who are successfully selected from the Quebec Expression of Interest pool are issued invitations to apply for a Quebec Selection Certificate.
Limited intake thresholds for non-cap-exempt applicantsNo limit on the number Expression of interest profiles submitted to the system
Cap-exempt applications remain under evaluation over long periods of timeExpression of Interest profiles will be valid for 12 months from the date of submission

Quebec also unveiled two significant changes to another of its economic immigration programs, the Quebec Experience Program, or PEQ.

The PEQ is open to eligible candidates who recently obtained an eligible diploma from a recognized Quebec school or have 12 months of skilled work experience in the province in the last 24 months and are currently employed full-time in Quebec.

Under the existing PEQ requirements, candidates were required to have work experience in occupations designated Skill Type O, Skill Level A or Skill Level B under Canada’s National Occupational Classification (NOC).

This requirement has now been removed, meaning candidates in occupations designated Skill Level C and Skill Level D may also be eligible to apply for CSQ through the Quebec Experience Program.

In another key change to the PEQ, Quebec will now allow accompanying spouses and common-law partners of eligible candidates who are working in Quebec on open work permits to present themselves as the principal applicants on CSQ applications.

To find out if you are eligible for Quebec immigration, fill out a free assessment form.

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