Jun 17, 2019 – Quebec’s National Assembly sat into the early hours of Sunday morning to eventually pass Bill 9, controversial immigration legislation that means 16,000 skilled worker applications will be scrapped.
It took a 19-hour session enforced by the ruling Coalition Avenir Quebec for the bill to become law at 4am on Sunday, June 16.
When it was first introduced, Bill 9 sought to scrap 18,000 immigration applications, affecting more than 40,000 people. Since then, roughly 2,000 have been processed following a ruling by the Quebec Superior Court in February.
Quebec Skilled Worker Backlog As Of February 2019
Number of pending applications
How many working/studying in Quebec
Number of applications concluded monthly 2015
Number of applications accepted monthly 2015
The passing of Bill 9, which also established a framework for a Quebec values test for new immigrants, means the French-speaking province now has a clean slate to begin the operation of the new Quebec Expression of Interest System.
The system – known as ‘Arrima’ – works similarly to Canada Express Entry, with candidates completing a self-assessed profile into an Expression of Interest pool. The top-scoring candidates are then drawn from the pool and invited to apply for Quebec immigration.
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Quebec’s immigration ministry (MIDI) actually opened the Expression of Interest system in September 2018, but, due to the backlog under the old system, officials are yet to draw any profiles from the pool.
It was reported in February 2019 that more than 90,000 candidates had already submitted profiles to the Quebec Expression of Interest pool. That number is now likely to be well over 100,000.
With the clearance of the existing backlog as a result of the passing of Bill 9, the next step is for Quebec to begin conducting Expression of Interest draws.
How Does Quebec Expression of Interest Work?
- Candidates submit an online expression of interest profile to the MIDI.
- Profiles enter into an Expression of Interest pool, where they are ranked against each other and are valid for 12-months.
- Profiles will be classified in two categories: one for candidates who are living in Quebec or have a job offer and meet specific criteria, and the another for candidates living outside Quebec and meet specific criteria.
- The highest-ranking candidates will receive an Invitation to Apply (ITA) for a Quebec Certificate of Selection under the Quebec Skilled Worker Program.
- Quebec will conduct periodic draws, inviting candidates to apply for a Quebec certificate of selection (CSQ).
- Candidates receiving an invitation have 90 days to submit a full application.
- Approved candidates who receive a nomination certificate (CSQ) may then apply for Canadian permanent residence.
Quebec Immigration Minister Simon Jolin-Barrette says the new EOI system will reduce waiting times from 36 months to 6 months for Quebec Skilled Worker applications.
The federal Express Entry system has been hugely successful since its launch in 2015, and is now a benchmark around the world for economic immigration.
However, at the federal level, there was no scrapping of the backlog of existing applications when Express Entry was launched. Instead, officials worked to process all of the existing applications during the first two years of Express Entry, essentially running the two systems side by side, phasing the old one out by the start of 2017.
Opposition lawmakers in Quebec fought to urge the CAQ to reverse their plan to scrap the existing Quebec Skilled Worker applications, which affects many who are already living and working in the province.
Premier Francois Legault accused his opponents of ‘playing games’ at the committee stage, slowing the process of debating each clause of Bill 9.
Eventually, Legault’s CAQ had to use its majority to force the legislation through before the National Assembly closed for its summer break.
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