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Changes in Quebec Experience Program to come into effect from July 22, 2020

PEQ changes to come into effect

PEQ reforms that were announced earlier, to come into effect from July 22, 2020. This affects the applications of international students and temporary foreign workers.

The new eligibility rules for the PEQ (Quebec Experience program) launched by the provincial government on July 9, will come into effect from July 22.

Introduced in 2010, the PEQ is a well-known stream of immigration that provides a fast-track way to get permanent residence for the temporary foreign workers and foreign students that have resided in Quebec.

On July 9, Quebec's immigration minister announced that an increase in the length of work experience required of future applicants before applying to the PEQ would be implemented in the coming weeks.

Currently, temporary foreign workers will be required to have held full-time employment for 24 months in the 36 months preceding the submission of their application to meet the PEQ's criteria.

The new rules also include a Quebec work experience requirement for international students. Foreign students who receive a degree from a University in Quebec or a Quebec diploma of college studies will need 12 months of Quebec work experience in jobs that fall within National Occupational Classification (NOC) codes 0, A, and B.

Students who obtain a Quebec diploma of professional studies (DEP) will be required to have 18 months of Quebec work experience in NOC 0, A, B, and C level jobs. Students working in C-level employment are only eligible under the new PEQ rules if their work experience is related to their study program in Quebec.

Work experience acquired during a mandatory internship in a study program will also be counted, up to a maximum of three months.

Transitional rules

Temporary foreign worker PEQ applications will be processed under the previous rules provided candidates have a valid work permit or were authorized to work. They were already in Quebec as of July 21, 2020.

Furthermore, international students who will graduate with a diploma issued before January 1, 2021, will also have their applications processed according to the conditions in effect before today's reforms.

However, it is unclear how this transitional measure will affect students who complete their studies in the fall semester and who typically receive their diploma after January 1.

Language proficiency

In addition to the changes regarding eligibility for the PEQ, this reform includes several other changes.

The principal applicant's spouse will have to demonstrate a level of French equivalent to an "advanced beginner." This knowledge of French can be shown by proving that one has completed three years of full-time secondary or post-secondary studies or French-language exams.

However, this measure will only take effect on July 22, 2021.

Final transcript attesting to the successful completion of an advanced intermediate level French course in a recognized institution in Quebec will no longer be accepted as proof of a good French; only approved test results and transcripts of studies completed in French will be accepted.

Why has Quebec introduced these changes?

The Government of Quebec says it has tightened the eligibility criteria for the PEQ because of its very high popularity. From 2010 to 2019, the proportion of Quebec Selection Certificates issued through the PEQ increased from 5 percent to 86 percent, according to Quebec's Minister of Immigration.

Quebec's decision, however, continues to be sharply criticized. In recent weeks, nearly 50 students, labour and community groups have mobilized in Quebec to denounce the recent changes to the PEQ and demand a more inclusive immigration system in the province.

Those groups call for a reconsideration of the extension of the required years of experience, the exclusion of low-skilled jobs, the exclusion based on a spouse's language proficiency, and the newly introduced six month processing times.