An overview of immigration to Quebec
The province of Quebec is a French-speaking province, but immigration to Quebec is not limited to French speakers. Quebec has several different immigration programs for workers, students, and businesspeople. We’ve prepared this guide to give you an overview of Quebec’s immigration options.
While French is not a mandatory requirement for those looking to immigrate to Quebec, it is advantageous. Most of Quebec’s immigration programs prioritize those with demonstrated French-language proficiency.
Who’s it for?
Individuals and families who want to reside permanently in the province of Quebec, Canada’s only predominantly French-speaking province, home to the city of Montreal.
How does it work?
Quebec selects its own economic immigrants, who are issued a Quebec Selection Certificate (CSQ). With a CSQ, a person may then apply to the government of Canada for permanent resident status. Certificates are issued to skilled workers under the Quebec Skilled Worker Program, to international students, graduates, and workers in Quebec under the Quebec Experience Program (PEQ), and to a variety of business persons under one of the Quebec business immigration programs (outlined below).
What’s the advantage?
For students, graduates, and workers in Quebec with French ability – or the reasonable expectation of eventually being able to prove such ability – the PEQ offers a pathway to permanent residence that is not dependent on being invited to apply or achieving a points total.
How much does it cost?
Fees levied by the government of Quebec amount to $812 for the principal applicant, as well as $174 for a spouse or partner and $174 for each dependent child.
Once a CSQ has been obtained and the applicant can apply to the government of Canada for permanent residence, federal application fees amount to a processing fee of $825 and a right of permanent residence fee of $500 ($1,325 total), plus $1,325 for an accompanying spouse or partner (divided into a processing fee of $825 and a right of permanent residence fee of $500) and $225 for each accompanying child.
How long does it take?
PEQ: The processing time for obtaining a CSQ under the PEQ is approximately six months.
QSWP: Processing times are generally lengthier under this program, ranging from a few months for cap-exempt applicants to more than a year for regular applicants. However, the government of Quebec has introduced a new Express Entry-style application management system for this program, which moves it from a first-come, first-served (or supply-based) system to a demand-based system that places a limit on applications received. This should result in reduced processing times.
Once a CSQ is issued, the federal processing time is approximately 15 to 17 months.
Quebec offers a predominantly French-speaking culture and economy. While French is not currently mandatory under the QSWP, it is weighted significantly more favourably than English under the eligibility points grid. Applicants to the PEQ are required to prove advanced-intermediate or better French ability in order to be approved for a CSQ under that program.
Where can I learn more?
If you intend to study or work in Quebec, or are currently working or studying in the province, we encourage you to review your options under the Quebec Experience Program. We also have a comprehensive guide for the points-based Quebec Skilled Worker Program, which doesn’t require applicants to have any previous period of work or study in Quebec (though such prior connections may be rewarded with additional points).
Why immigrate to Quebec?
Quebec is a popular destination for newcomers to Canada. The province is home to more than one million immigrants, according to the most recent census. Quebec is also home to Canada’s second-largest city, Montreal, which is well-known for its diversity and multiplicity of cultures.
In recent years, Quebec’s economy has been booming, creating a robust workforce with many job opportunities. The housing and rental market in Quebec’s urban centres is also more affordable than in the cities of Toronto and Vancouver, making it a more attractive destination to some.
Though the province is often hit hard with cold winters, it also experiences hot and lush summers, and is replete with lakes, campgrounds, parks, and hiking trails, encouraging residents to get out and enjoy nature.
Montreal, known for its culture, also hosts a range of internationally renowned festivals each year, including the International Jazz Festival, the Just For Laughs Comedy Festival, and the Osheaga Music Festival.
How does Quebec immigration work? How can you immigrate to Quebec?
Immigration to Quebec is conducted in a unique way, separate from the Government of Canada’s selection criteria. Individuals and families who want to reside in a location in the province of Quebec as economic permanent residents, must go through the Quebec immigration system.
Quebec immigration applicants go through a two-step process. First, they must be eligible for and obtain a Quebec Selection Certificate (Certificat de sélection du Québec, or CSQ). This important document signifies that the applicant has been selected to settle in Quebec.
Second, approved CSQ holders may apply to the federal government for Canadian permanent residence. The federal government is primarily concerned with health and criminality issues, rather than the human capital, skills, and experience factors for which the applicant has already been approved by the government of Quebec.
It should be noted that though Quebec retains control of the selection of economic immigrants to the province, Family Class applicants and in-Canada refugee claimants may also be admitted on an ongoing basis. French ability for economic migrants depends on the program and the individual’s personal circumstances. For non-economic migrants, French ability is not a factor in selection
As of January 1, 2020, all applicants for permanent residence through Quebec immigration programs are required to show they understand Quebec values. This can be done by passing a Quebec values test or completing a course in Quebec values.
There are a number of ways to secure a CSQ through the economic programs, explained below.
Quebec immigration programs
Quebec offers a range of immigration programs. To review the complete criteria and process for each program, simply click on the program name.
Immigration to Quebec: programs for workers and graduates
The Quebec Skilled Worker Program (Programme régulier des travailleurs qualifiés, or QSW) is an immigration program for workers who can demonstrate their ability to contribute to Quebec’s workforce. Candidates can apply from anywhere in the world, with or without any Quebec experience.
However, QSW uses a points-based ranking system, similar to that of Express Entry, to select only the most competitive candidates. QSW awards points based on a range of criteria, including age, proficiency in French and/or English, Quebec experience (education, job offers, etc.). Interested candidates should note that French-language proficiency and connections to Quebec are highly valued under this points system, so it may be easier for candidates with those types of experience.
The Quebec Skilled Worker program uses Arrima, Quebec immigration’s online portal, to manage and select candidates.
As is suggested in its name, the Quebec Experience Program (Programme de l’expérience québécoise, or PEQ) is an immigration program for candidates who have experience in Quebec, either as a worker or an international student (or both). PEQ also has a mandatory French-language component, requiring candidates to speak and understand French at an intermediate level.
If you have experience working or studying in Quebec, then PEQ might be your best option for Quebec immigration.
Quebec immigration pilot program for workers in artificial intelligence, information technology, and visual effects
Launching in January, 2021, this immigration pilot program will provide a pathway to permanent residence for workers in the AI, IT, and VFX industries who are either working in Quebec or have a job offer from a Quebec employer. This program will offer a stream for French-speakers and a stream for non-French speakers.
Quebec immigration pilot program for food processing workers
Launching in January, 2021, this immigration pilot program will provide a pathway to permanent residence for workers in the food processing sector who are currently employed in Quebec. Candidates must demonstrate advanced-intermediate French-language abilities in order to be eligible.
Quebec immigration pilot program for orderlies
Launching in January, 2021, this immigration pilot program will provide a pathway to permanent residence for orderlies, nurses aides, and patient services associates who are currently employed in Quebec. Candidates must demonstrate advanced-intermediate French-language abilities in order to be eligible.
Immigration to Quebec: Quebec business immigration
The Quebec Immigrant Investor Program is one of the only remaining investment-based immigration programs in Canada. The Quebec Immigrant Investor Program is for wealthy investors who are willing to make a substantial investment in the province.
The program requires candidates to have a minimum personal net worth of CAD$2-million and make a minimum investment of CAD$1.2-million. If this sounds like you, continue onto our Quebec Immigrant Investor Program guide for more details.
Please note that the Quebec Immigrant Investor Program has limited quotas and intake periods. You must apply during a designated intake period and before the quota has been met.
The Quebec Entrepreneur Program is for experienced business people with the interest in launching a new business in Quebec, or purchasing an existing business. The program requires candidates to have demonstrated experience in the ownership and/or management of a business, plus the finances or outside interest required to undertake their entrepreneurial endeavour in Quebec. If this sounds like it could be you, please review the complete program requirements in our Quebec Entrepreneur Program guide.
Please note that the Quebec Entrepreneur Program has limited quotas and intake periods. You must apply during a designated intake period and before the quota has been met.
The Quebec Self-Employer Program is for self-employed workers living and working in Quebec. The program has highly specific requirements, so not all self-employed workers will be eligible. You must have at least two-years’ experience as a self-employed person, plus minimum net assets equal to CAD$100,000. If you are self-employed, living in Quebec, and interested in learning more, please consult this guide to the Quebec Self-Employed Program.
Please note that the Quebec Self-Employed Program has limited quotas and intake periods. You must apply during a designated intake period and before the quota has been met.
Frequently Asked Questions about Quebec immigration
Below are the questions we hear most commonly from our community about Quebec immigration.
What is a Certificat de sélection du Québec (CSQ)?
Immigration to Quebec for workers is completed in a two-step process. First, you apply to the province of Quebec to be approved by their immigration authorities. Then, if you are approved by Quebec, you must submit a second application to Canada’s federal immigration authorities.
A Quebec Selection Certificate (Certificat de sélection du Québec, or CSQ) is the document you receive from Quebec’s immigration authorities once you have made it through the first step of the process. Once you have your CSQ, you can then submit your application at the federal level.
What is Arrima, Quebec’s immigration selection system?
Arrima is an online portal Quebec immigration uses to manage and select immigration candidates for the Quebec Skilled Worker program. It is similar to the portal used for the federal Express Entry system. On Arrima, candidates can create and submit profiles to be considered for QSW. Eligible candidates are automatically scored and ranked against one another within Arrima.
Is Quebec a part of Express Entry?
No. Quebec does not participate in Express Entry. In fact, if an Express Entry applicant indicates they have the intention to reside in the province of Quebec, their application may be refused.
Express Entry is an immigration system designed for skilled workers. Skilled workers interested in immigrating to Quebec may consider the Quebec Skilled Worker program and the Quebec Experience Program.
Does Quebec immigration have a Provincial Nominee Program (PNP)?
No. Quebec immigration does not have a Provincial Nominee Program (PNP). While Quebec’s immigration system might seem similar to other PNPs, technically the Quebec system is an entirely separate immigration system.
Do I need French to be accepted through Quebec immigration?
No, but French can help your Quebec immigration application.
Quebec has immigration programs that do not require French, including the Quebec Skilled Worker program (QSW) and Quebec’s business immigration streams. However, most of Quebec’s immigration programs give French speakers some sort of advantage. For example, QSW uses a points system to rank interested candidates. Candidates receive many more points for proficiency in French than for proficiency in English.
Notably, the Quebec Experience Program (PEQ) does require French-language proficiency.
Can I live in Quebec on my IEC Working Holiday?
Yes. Your IEC Working Holiday comes with an open work permit enabling you to live and work in any province or territory in Canada, including Quebec.