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So, what exactly is going on with Quebec immigration?

This past month has seen several significant immigration announcements from Canada’s French-speaking province of Quebec. Quebec’s newly elected government has delivered on early promises to shake up existing immigration policy in the province, changes which we are now in the midst of.

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What has changed so far?

In late January the province of Quebec began a series of changes to their immigration system and application processes.

January 24th: On this day, Quebec’s immigration minister, Simon Jolin-Barrette, announced that the online portal used by the province, Arrima, would be temporarily suspended. Arrima was introduced in 2018, and was designed as a way to speed up the immigration application process by offering an online method for submitting expressions of interest to the popular Quebec Skilled Worker (QSW) program.

The suspension of Arrima was intended to put a hold on new applications coming in, while the Quebec government dealt with a massive application backlog of over 18,000 unprocessed files. Under the suspension, candidates interested in QSW were still able to create a profile on Arrima, but they would not begin to be processed until the existing backlog was addressed.

February 7th: Only two weeks following the suspension of Arrima, Quebec’s ministry for immigration announced another major change. On February 7th the province revealed its plan to terminate the existing backlog through the proposal of Bill 9. If adopted, Bill 9 would bring in several changes to Quebec’s immigration system, most notably the cancellation of over 18,000 unprocessed files mentioned above. The tabling of this bill has received heavy criticism from both applicants in the Arrima pool, and immigration lawyers alike. It is estimated that if the existing unprocessed files were to be terminated up to 45,000 people could be affected.

This week, we have seen the latest move in a series of fast-changing transformations in Quebec’s immigration plans.

February 22nd: On Friday February 22nd a collection of Quebec Immigration lawyers appeared in court fighting against the proposed cancellation. The association made their case to overturn the decision to cancel unprocessed files, arguing that the termination would leave many existing applicants now disqualified or out of options for remaining in Canada.

February 25th: On Monday, the Quebec Superior Court granted an injunction and ruled that the province must continue to process applications as normal for the next ten days, the time limit of a temporary injunction. Both the Quebec Association of Immigration lawyers, and representatives of Quebec immigration will have to return to court within before March 7th.

Where are we now?

Those with applications currently in the Arrima pool will continue to be processed as normal until the end of the injunction on March 7th. While the temporary halt has stopped the Quebec government immediately moving forward with the cancellation of unprocessed files, it is impossible to predict how the tabling of Bill 9 will move forward in the coming days and weeks.

Fortunately, other options for Canadian immigration exist. As Quebec’s immigration process has become more uncertain in recent weeks, other programs across Canada have strengthened and expanded. For those interested in QSW, the Federal Skilled Worker program could be an excellent alternative, boasting significantly shorter processing times and accessible online application. For French-speakers, the Ontario French-Speaking Skilled Worker stream could be the right option for getting your Canadian Permanent Resident status quickly and efficiently.

Interested in learning more about your options with Canadian immigration? Take our online free assessment and a member of the Canadim team will be in touch with you shortly!

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