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CANADA: New Criteria for Qu├ębec Permanent Residence Applications

Over the last three years, the number of applications for economic permanent immigration to the Canadian province of Québec has more than doubled, rising from approximately 30,000 in 2008 to approximately 65,000 in 2011. In response to this growing volume, the Québec government's Ministry of Immigration and Cultural Communities (MICC) proposed on March 21, 2012, an omnibus bill encompassing several major changes to Québec's immigration law, the Loi sur l’immigration au Québec. If passed in the Québec National Assembly, the bill will represent significant changes to eligibility for obtaining a Québec Selection Certificate to immigrate permanently to Québec.

The proposed changes will govern applications accepted by Québec for the period April 1, 2012, through March 31, 2013. These changes are aimed at expediting processing times and according priority treatment to candidates for Québec permanent residence with professional profiles currently highly sought after in the Québec labor market, and at restricting the eligibility of other candidates. A new Demand Management System will dictate the numbers of applications for Québec permanent residence accepted.

Applications for Québec permanent residence by foreign workers and students will be divided into two main groups. Group 1 will not have any restrictions on the number of applications accepted and will include candidates who obtain at least 12 out of 16 points for their Field of Training based on the MICC's list of Fields of Training. Other candidates who may form part of Group 1 are foreign nationals working in Québec with valid work permits, foreign nationals participating in recognized youth exchange programs, foreign nationals holding valid study permits who obtained their diplomas from recognized post-secondary educational institutions in Québec, and foreign nationals with an employment offer validated by the MICC. Foreign workers who can be attributed points for their Field of Training but obtain less than 12 points will form part of Group 2, with a limit of 14,300 applications.

Under the new Demand Management System, applications for business immigrants will be restricted to pre-set quotas. For investors, the maximum number of applications accepted for the period April 1, 2012, through March 31, 2013, is 2,700. That quota was reached on April 12, 2012. A maximum of 215 entrepreneur applications will be accepted for the April 1, 2012-March 31, 2013, period. The Demand Management System is not intended to have an impact on the Québec government's commitment to accept approximately 50,000 immigrants annually from 2012 to 2015. The proposed changes will make it more difficult, however, for many candidates who would have qualified before March 21, 2012, for permanent immigration to Québec.

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