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Immigrating to Canada through Quebec: Still Worth It?

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.

37 comments

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. Hi,
    For Que­bec immi­gra­tion, is it nec­es­sary to appear in an Eng­lish Lan­guage test also?

  4. 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.

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