With an aim to improve processing times and tailor immigration to labour needs, the Government of Quebec plans to eliminate outstanding applications to the Quebec Skilled Worker Program (QSWP) submitted before August 2, 2018.

According to the plan, government is cancelling all applications submitted before that date that have yet to be approved, refused or rejected, which would help in clearing the current backlog of around 18,000 applications and refunding the government processing fee.

Eliminating the QSWP backlog is one of many proposals included in a new immigration bill introduced on Thursday, February 7, by Quebec’s new Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) government.

Among other measures, the new legislation suggests changes to Quebec’s Immigration Act that puts more emphasis on an immigrant’s “responsibility” to learn Quebec values and French language.

The CAQ government also hints at the possibility of imposing conditions on permanent residence, which include changes on the basis of public health, regional and sectoral labour needs or “the immigrant’s linguistic, social and economic integration. However, this proposal could spark an argument with Canada’s federal government, which has authority over the granting of permanent residence in Canada.

The Government of Quebec asserted that the motive behind introducing these changes is to ensure that immigrants to Quebec are better integrated and equipped to succeed in Quebec’s labour market.

The new proposal aims at matching immigrants to actual labour needs in Quebec

Quebec’s Immigration Minister, Simon Jolin-Barrette, stated that eliminating the backlog would allow his ministry to better tailor immigration as per actual labour needs in the province through the Quebec Skilled Worker Program and reduce application processing times from 36 months to 6 months.

He further said that the backlogged applications were submitted when the Quebec Skilled Worker Program used to operate on a first-come, first-served basis approach, which was not in accordance with Quebec’s workforce requirements and therefore got changed in August 2018, when the Government of Quebec switched the application process to a more merit-focused Expression of Interest model.

Under the Quebec’s Expression of Interest system, foreign workers need to first register a profile with Quebec’s Immigration Ministry (MIDI) that details their education, work experience, training and language abilities.

However, the applicants affected by Quebec Government’s move to cancel pending applications submitted under the old first-come, first-served model can re-apply under the new Expression of Interest system.

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