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Study or work temporarily in Quebec as a way to get quicker access to permanent residence

The province of Quebec supports and encourages the immigration of foreigners who have already initiated their integration. For more than ten years, people who have finished studying in Quebec or who have worked there have the possibility to apply for and automatically benefit from the Certificat de sélection du Québec (CSQ). This selection request is made through the Programme de l’expérience québécoise (PEQ), one of the economic immigration programs in Quebec that was put in place in 2010.


When this program was introduced, the objective was to meet the needs of the labor market with the skills of people who already have “Quebec experience”. The facility of obtaining the CSQ through the PEQ has resulted in a reduction in the selection of immigrants via other economic immigration programs in Quebec, notably the Quebec Regular Skilled Worker Program (RSWP). According to the consultation document on the PEQ produced in February 2020, the proportion of selection certificates issued through this program increased from 5 to 86% between 2010 and 2019.


In order to remedy this imbalance between programs, the Minister of Immigration, de la Francisation et de l’Intégration (MIFI) at the time, Mr. Simon Jolin-Barrette, put in place new regulations to govern the PEQ. This change, which took place following a broad consultation of most of the actors affected by the issue of employment and integration, entered into force on July 22, 2020. According to Mr. Jolin-Barrette, the new version of the PEQ would value both education and work experience.


The new PEQ eligibility criteria


The PEQ allows foreign nationals to gain permanent residence by obtaining the CSQ directly. It has two components: foreign students and temporary foreign workers.


The component: “foreign students” is designed for foreign students in Quebec. To apply for the PEQ in this component, since July 22, 2020, you shall:

– Obtain a university degree or a college professional studies diploma in Quebec within the last 36 months;

– Intend to settle in Quebec;

– Have at least 12 months of full-time work experience in Quebec in jobs that fall under codes 0, A and B of the National Occupational Classification (NOC) if holding a university degree;

– Have at least 18 months of work experience in Quebec in level 0, A, B and C jobs of the NOP if holder of a professional studies diploma (DEP) or college (DEC);

– Be employed when submitting the application;

– Be at least 18 years old;

– Hold a valid passport at the time of submission of the application.


The component: “temporary foreign worker” is designed for foreign workers who have valid work experience in Quebec. To apply for the PEQ in this component, since July 22, 2020, you shall:

– Have a legal status and respect the conditions of stay in Quebec;

– Intend to settle in Quebec;

– Provide proof of your financial autonomy;

– Demonstrate sufficient knowledge of French;

– Hold a full-time job in Quebec in a job at skill level 0, A or B according to the National Occupational Classification (NOC) for 24 months, during the 36 months preceding the selection request;

– Be employed at the time of submission of the application;

– Be at least 18 years old;

– Hold a valid passport at the time of submission of the application.


For both components of the PEQ, foreign students and temporary workers, the applicant as well as his or her spouse must demonstrate a sufficient level of knowledge of French. This requirement was introduced in the 2020 changes that also affected the timeframe for obtaining the CSQ. The processing of any CSQ request via the PEQ has been reduced from 20 working days to six (6) months since July 22, 2020.


The new procedure for obtaining the CSQ via the PEQ


As of January 26, 2021, the MIFI no longer accepts paper applications for the PEQ. Applicants for this program must submit their application via the Arrima platform. The main steps of this procedure are:

  1. Complete the permanent selection request form;
  2. Prepare the necessary documents for the request;
  3. Go to Arrima and create an account or connect to your existing account;
  4. Submit the selection request on the Arrima interface by attaching the documents and paying the fees;
  5. Take the exam on Quebec values. A convocation is sent to the candidate in appropriate time;
  6. Obtaining the Certificat de Sélection du Québec (CSQ).


In the case of the PEQ, the candidate who meets the conditions of the component for which he is applying receives a CSQ as well as his spouse or common-law partner and his dependent children included in his application. This certificate allows the candidate to apply for permanent residence at the federal level in the category of skilled worker. But here again there are still obstacles to be removed.


Succeeding despite tougher conditions: it’s possible


Actors in the immigration chain, including candidates, continue to ask the Premier of Quebec to raise his immigration thresholds. The Canada-Quebec agreement indicates that it is for Quebec itself to define each year the number of immigrants it wishes to receive in its territory. In doing so, Ottawa finds it difficult to grant permanent residence more quickly at the risk of exceeding the threshold.


But before going to the federal government, you must have obtained the CSQ. The PEQ is a simple looking program. However, the candidate can easily miss this opportunity for several reasons. This is why our firm proposes to support all candidates and companies to avoid their refusal. We have solutions for individuals, but even more for companies that need to define long-term plans to avoid falling into a sudden labor shortage. A custom-made approach is in fact necessary for each candidate to obtain his CSQ despite the hardening of the conditions of the PEQ.


By contacting our immigration firm that has more than 20 years of experience, you have the opportunity to have the best preparation that will lead to a well-prepared case.

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