After the draw of a record number of immigrants under the Express Entry program, what are the assets of Quebec that retain or attract skilled workers?
On Saturday 13th February 2021, Canada invited 27 332 candidates for immigration to apply for permanent residency. This draw is exceptional for two reasons: the number of invitations is 6 times higher than on previous occasions, and the number of qualifying points required is only 75 instead of the 450 points previously needed to be selected.
Who are the candidates that have been invited?
Those invited were people who have worked for at least one year as a skilled worker in Canada, that is in one or more jobs at levels A, B or O. All of them were signed up to the pool of candidates for the Express Entry program, which leads to permanent residency everywhere in Canada, except Quebec, when applying within 90 days of receiving an invitation.
With 75 points, the criteria of age, knowledge of French and English, or qualifications are no longer important. An opportunity has been given to candidates who otherwise had very little chance of being chosen.
Following this draw, the authorities issued a communiqué highlighting the immigration needs in Canada and their preference, in light of the current border closures, for candidates already in the country.
Permanent residents: the appeal of the great centres in Quebec
Quebec can only benefit from the growing number of permanent immigrants in the country.
The Express entry program admittedly targets immigrants who have a real, tangible and justifiable initial intention to settle in an English-speaking or bilingual province. However, once a permanent resident, as long as the initial intent is not called into question, everyone is free to settle anywhere in Canada, and therefore in Quebec, during his lifetime.
And it is here that the appeal of large centres, such as Montreal, come into play, as cutting-edge sectors such as artificial intelligence, aerospace, video games and special effects, life sciences and health technology are capable of attracting a great number of very skilled immigrants to Quebec. The province offers an economic drive and good quality of living.
For immigrants whose initial intention is only to settle in Quebec, obtaining permanent residency takes longer than the Express entry system, but it is well and truly open. These future immigrants will remain with a work permit for longer, but fortunately, with the help of an employer, they can remain as workers in Quebec.
Quebec: making the best use of Arrima
The classic route to permanent residency for skilled workers in the province, with a good level of spoken French, is to use the Quebec Experience program (PEQ), after 24 months in a qualified job.
A lot of immigrants wait to be admissible under this program, neglecting in the process the selection path with the Regular Skilled Worker Program (RSWP) via Arrima.
Yet it represents several advantages, notably, being able to submit a declaration of interest without having worked for a whole year in Quebec. Then, extra points are given to future immigrants depending on the field of training.
These fields are numerous: computer engineering, aerospace engineering, energy or civil engineering, to name but a few. The backing of an employer via the valid job offer process will also be a major criterion for selection.
For those who look a little closer at this program, the number of selections during the round of invitations under Arrima, though lower than at the Canadian level, are nonetheless regular and can hold some nice surprises for Quebec companies, and their foreign talent with a work permit.
By way of conclusion, let us remember that Canada has set important objectives for immigration for 2021-2023, aiming to welcome 401 000 permanent residents in 2021
This article relates to recent events, likely to change at any time. Last updated on 16th February 2021.