Controversial changes or alterations to the Quebec Experience Program (PEQ) came into effect on Wednesday, July 22.

The new eligibility requirements for the Quebec Experience Program (or PEQ) introduced by the provincial government on July 9 came into force yesterday.

Introduced in 2010, the PEQ is a popular immigration stream that provides a fast-track to Canadian permanent residence for international students and temporary foreign workers that have resided in Quebec.

On July 9, Quebec’s immigration minister had earlier said that an increase in the length of work experience is required of future applicants before they can apply to the PEQ would be implemented soon.

As of today, temporary foreign workers will be asked to have held full-time employment for twenty-four (24) months in the thirty-six (36) months preceding the submission of their application to meet the PEQ’s requirements.

The new changes also include a Quebec work experience requirement for students coming from overseas countries. Students who obtain a university degree in Quebec or a Quebec diploma of college studies will require twelve (12) months of Quebec work experience in jobs that fall within the National Occupational Classification (NOC) codes 0, A, and B.

International students who obtain a Quebec diploma of professional studies (DEP) will be asked to have eighteen (18) months of Quebec work experience in NOC 0, A, B, and C level jobs. Those students working in C level jobs can only be qualified under the new PEQ rules if their work experience is related to their program of study in Quebec.

Work experience obtained during a mandatory internship in a study program will also be counted, up to a maximum of three (3) months.

Transitional measures

Temporary foreign workers PEQ applications will be processed under the old rules provided applicants have a valid work permit or were authorized to work, and were already living in Quebec as of July 21, 2020.

Furthermore, foreign students who will graduate with a diploma issued before Jan. 1, 2021, will also have their applications processed according to the criteria or conditions in effect before today’s reforms.

It is, however, not clear how this transitional measures will affect foreign students who complete their studies in the fall semester and who normally receive their diploma after 1st of January.

Language requirement

In addition to the changes concerning eligibility for the Quebec Experience Program, this reforms includes a number of other changes.

Spouses of the principal applicant will have to show or provide a level of French equivalent to an “advanced beginner.” This French knowledge can be demonstrated by showing that have successfully completed three years of full-time post-secondary studies or by taking French-language examinations.

However, this measure will only come into force on July 22, 2021.

A final transcript attesting to the successful completion of an advanced intermediate level French program in a recognized institution in the province of Quebec will no longer be accepted as proof of a good command of French language; only approved test result and transcripts of studies completed in French will be accepted.

Why the implementation of the changes to Quebec experience program

The Quebec government says it has tightened the eligibility requirements for the PEQ because of its very high popularity and demand. From 2010 to 2019, the proportion of Quebec Selection Certificates sent out through the PEQ increased from Five (5) per cent to eighty-six (86) per cent, according to Quebec’s Minister of Immigration.

Quebec’s new rules or changes, however, continues to be strongly criticized. In recent weeks, nearly fifty (50) student, labour and community groups have mobilized in Quebec to protest the recent changes to the PEQ program and to demand a more inclusive immigration system in the province.

These groups are lobbying for a reconsideration of the increase in the required years of experience, the exclusion of low-skilled job, the exclusion based on a spouse’s language proficiency or ability and the newly introduced six month processing times.

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