Immigrating to Canada through Quebec: Still Worth It?

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Canadian Coat of Arms, Ottawa, May 2012

The question may sound strange but lately, reading immigration news, I started to wonder whether immigrating to Canada through the Quebec process was still worth it.

Indeed, prospective immigrants to Canada who are planning to settle in Quebec must go through “the Quebec process”, since the province selects immigrants to achieve certain objectives. Meanwhile, the federal government of Canada is still responsible for admitting immigrants.

So if you are planning to settle in Quebec, you must go through two distinct processes:

First, being selected by the provin­cial gov­ern­ment of Que­bec and obtain a Certificat de Sélection du Québec (CSQ). At this stage, your edu­ca­tional and work back­grounds are assessed, as well as your abil­ity to inte­grate into Que­bec.

Second, being accepted by the fed­eral gov­ern­ment of Canada. Per­ma­nent res­i­dence can be granted after a medical exam and a background check.

Those planning to settle in Quebec have long known that the additional step, obtaining a CSQ,incurred extra fees. For the principal applicant, it was CA$406 (before April 1, 2012) and for the spouse and each dependent child, it was CA$156. And each member of the family, including kids, needs a CSQ.

Yet prospective immigrants didn’t mind the extra cost and hassle for a lot of reasons:

  • Quebec has long favoured francophone immigrants and immigrating through the Quebec process was said to be easier than going through the federal process.
  • A lot of French speakers do want to settle in Quebec for linguistic or cultural reasons.
  • The province of Quebec heavily advertises immigrating to “la belle province” through a network of Bureaux d’Immigration du Québec (BIC) around the world that offers free information sessions.
  • The proof of funds required for Quebec-selected applicants is much lower than the proof of funds required for those immigrating to other provinces ($2,889 for one adult arriving in Quebec versus $11,115 for an adult settling anywhere else in Canada).
  • The immigration process through Quebec was said to be faster for qualified French speakers.

But lately, the Ministry of Immigration and Cultural Communities responsible for immigration matters in Quebec made a number of dramatic changes to the process.

First, on April 1, 2012, the fees levied by the Gouvernement du Québec for processing an immigration application were raised from $406 to $750—ouch! And don’t forget that the Quebec process is only half of the process, you still have the pay the permanent residence fees to the Government of Canada.

Second, to obtain the CSQ, even native French speakers (for instance, French citizens) must now take a French language test. The fees depend on where you take the test, but seem to be around €100 in France.

Third, Quebec is facing a heavy backlog of applications and obtaining a CSQ takes longer and longer. For instance, the Quebec visa office in Paris is currently processing applications it received in September 2011. For Northern Africa immigrants, processing times are much much longer: the Quebec visa office in Algeria is currently processing application received in… July 2008! You can see the processing times here for other visa offices around the world. And don’t forget that this is just one step of the process: the federal government then have to process your application!

So going through the Quebec process is now more expensive, with more hassle, and takes longer than ever—hence my initial question, “is it still worth it?”

I’m not arguing whether settling in Quebec is a good idea. I understand the province has a strong appeal for a lot of French speakers, and if you do plan to live in Quebec, you don’t have the choice, you must go through the Quebec immigration process.

But if you are hesitating between living in Quebec and living in other provinces, I’d urge you to see whether going through the federal process would be easier, faster and cheaper.

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French woman in English Canada. World citizen, new mom, traveler, translator, writer and photographer. Looking for comrades to start a new revolution.

41 Comments

  1. I’d say no, via the CSQ. But now you can get the CSQ quite easily with the PEQ if you got the chance to live or to have lived in Québec…
    It’s not that easy to go through the other provinces, unless you’re already leaving there and find a employer ready to sponsor you (in some provinces, like Yukon and New Brunswick, it’s quite easy)

    • I know going through the federal process can be challenging as well. If I had to immigrate all over again and if I didn’t have specific plans, I would try the province nominee program these days.

  2. Not worth it anymore. With the changes QC is making to their immigration program it does not offer that competitive advantage it used to have a few years ago.

    Ans the province is broke. And you pay a lot of taxes. And jobs are in the west.

    Why would anyone want to go to QC anymore?

    • I agree, I think Quebec lost its competitive edge when it comes to the separate immigration process.

      I’m happy in Ontario and wouldn’t have immigrated to Quebec for a lot of reasons, but I don’t think people will stop settling there though, despite the obvious challenges. Prospective immigrants should know their options, though.

  3. Quebec its still a great option to migrate, specially for Latino immigrants, the culture and rhythm of the province fits very well our culture.

    I have been here for a couple of years after leaving Toronto and I still highly believe this is THE CITY in Canada to arrive.

    Best Regards

    • I’m not arguing whether it’s a good place to settle, but rather if the immigration process is still worth it… and considering the additional fees and processing time, I’m not so sure anymore.

  4. I think you can imigrate through Canada and then move to Quebec? That’s maybe easier.

    My BF did his permanent residency through Quebec since he is a scientific and that helped him fastrack his application.

    • IMHO (but we should ask an specialist), Going to QC through the FSW worker program makes you don’t have a CSQ and therefore you loose access to some immigrant programs.

      Again, we should ask a specialist

    • That’s actually complicated because Quebec requires the CSQ. For instance, I couldn’t get a job in Gatineau, across the bridge from Ottawa, when I was a permanent resident because I would have had to apply for the damn CSQ to work in Quebec, even though I was a landed immigrant. Only when you become a citizen you can go work in Quebec without the CSQ.

      • Once you’re in, you’re in. (Unless you are convicted of a serious crime, or you lied on your application or the like.) So once you are a permanent resident, you have the right to live and work anywhere in the country, no matter where you first settled. You can arrive in Toronto, and move to Montreal the next day if you like.

        The Quebec and national governments have agreements about selecting immigrants, but once here we are all the same.

        • Unfortunately, that’s the theory but it’s a bit complicated if you land in, let’s say, Ontario, and want to work in Quebec. Regardless of your status as a landed immigrant and permanent resident, you will still need to backtrack and apply for a CSQ before you can work in Quebec. It’s a complicated issue and a bit of a grey area, but I ran into the problem when I settled in Ottawa, because at the time I was investigated work opportunities in Gatineau, across the bridge. Eventually, I gave up in trying to work other there because I didn’t want to pay for a CSQ considering I was just done with the immigration process.

          Now once you are a citizen, you can work anywhere you want.

          • The Charter is not a theory – it’s the supreme law of the land. Section 6.2 says:
            Every citizen of Canada and every person who has the status of a permanent resident of Canada has the right

            (a) to move to and take up residence in any province; and
            (b) to pursue the gaining of a livelihood in any province.

            Some low-level Quebec bureaucrat does not override the Charter.

            Now maybe if you don’t have the CSQ, you won’t get some Quebec subsidies or something, but you absolutely have the right to take a job, even before you are a citizen. Sorry to take so much of your space, but if people don’t know their constitutional rights, they are unlikely to try to enforce them.

          • While I completely agree with you I can guarantee you newcomers who don’t have a CSQ have issues working in Quebec. At the time (2005) I really looked into it and was unable to solve the problem, the federal and the provincial government didn’t communicate. I was told it was a grey area.

            So I’m all for telling people they have rights (and again, you are right!) but they also have to know they will run into problems without a CSQ.

  5. Very interesting. I had no idea the immigration requirements were so different for Quebec than for the rest of Canada. I can’t believe that French native speakers need to take a French test though – talk about bureaucracy and a waste of time and money.

  6. Is there any way to apply for PR to only the federal system even though I’ve only ever lived in Montreal during my time in Canada and my job is in Montreal too? I don’t want to stay here much longer, but don’t want to leave my job just to avoid applying for PR through Quebec.

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  8. I am currently applying for FSWP.. I have applied early and hopefully everything will turn out good.. If we make it to the FSWP, can I still get CSQ and then live and work in Montreal? Or i do not need to geet the CSQ?

    Thanks!

    • It depends where you are planning to settle. If you are settling in Quebec, you must go through the Quebec immigration process and will need a CSQ.

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  10. Hi Zhu
    I’ve got my csq in may and made my federal application in june. I’m just wondering if I can live in other provinces than quebec after I receive my pr? Do you have any idea about this?
    Thanks for replying.

  11. One of my friend got a job offer from quebec Canada and got caq, lmo , work permit also but how to check all these documents are legal or not. Please kindly suggest me.

  12. I am a dependent PR sponsored by my husband, he applied thru federal system as his location of work is there but we would like to change place and settle in Quebec, as my relatives leave there… Is it possible or do we have to stay in that Province that nominate my husband for a certain period of time before we could move somewhere else especially in Quebec?
    Or is it possible for me to move to Quebec alone as I am sponsored by my husband?

    Thanks a lot…

    • I have no idea to be honest. Quebec is a bit different because you need a CSQ. You should contact Quebec immigration services. Good luck!

  13. Hi, I got my CSQ in November 2012 and did my medical in August 2013. But now I have a new baby. I submitted a new form “Change to the application of selection certificate – Add a new child”. I am wondering how long this should take to obtain the CSQ of the new born baby. thanks a lot.

  14. EnglishCanada on

    Hello, I am English speaking and want to apply for Quebec Immigration – PR. I satisfy all the points criteria. I want to apply with my wife and baby. I am not sure how long it will take to process and if there is surity to get PR approved. Though I have 9 months of Canada work experience but that does not satisfy the 1 year work experience of Canada. Thats why I am thinking to go through this way.

    Please guide me. I am more worried if application is rejected then I have to suffer financial loss.

    Thanks.

    • Well, do you have enough points when you take the test online? If so, you shouldn’t worry about it, it’s basically just paperwork. However, if you do not speak French, Quebec authority may wonder why you are choosing to settle in Quebec.

      • Yes, I have the enough points when I take the test online. However, I am worried about the number of applications to be filed is 20,000 for this year. I mean if I apply late, is there any possiblity that my file is not considered at all.

  15. If you don’t mind me adding

    Since the introduction of the Quebec Experience Class(PEQ) in 2008, priority has been given to those applying under that category. There are no caps applied on this class.

    For those applying under the PEQ i.e. Quebec graduates and Quebec workers. The processing time to obtain a CSQ is 20(twenty-vingt) days from the moment of application receipt. There are no points, no interviews whatsoever. Just a set of criteria that upon meeting all of them, the CSQ will be granted.

    The program favours people who have completed studies in Quebec e.g. universities, colleges and vocational schools or who have at least 1 year of work experience obtained in Quebec.

    What you have indicated here refers to the normal/old route where people get their qualifications assessed, vetted and themselves interviewed. It’s still an available route but has since been capped to 20000 per year.

    • Thank you for the update! I know that many changes were made to immigration programs since I was granted PR status myself. THis is why I usually refer people to CIC’s website.

  16. Hi
    I applied for Quebec immigration in July 2013. I received only file number.. afterwards no response.. i want to ask meanwhile can i go for study in canada
    Tnx..

  17. hi

    Can you help me decide if I should go for Quebec Skilled worker programme through recently announced Mon Project Quebec. My long term plan is to settle in Toronto, Ontario or some other province in Canada after spending some time in Quebec.

    Any help in this regard with practical experience is well appreciated.

    Thanks in advance

    • I’m not up to date with latest regulations and processing times. However, I can tell you that once you get permanent residence status, even through Quebec, you can settle anywhere you like in Canada.

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