The Québec Skilled Worker Program (QSWP) has undergone many well publicized changes recently (like when they trashed the backlog of 18k applications and started fresh) and it now bears a striking resemblance to Express Entry. However, it’s an entirely separate system.
Instead of applying through myCIC, you use the Arrima system. The Arrima system is only available in French. Instructions and requirements are kept up to date in French. When accessing English pages on the MIDI website you will likely find that they have a notice telling you to view the French version for accurate information, because the English instructions are out of date.
This system launched in September 2018, so any instructions from before that time are no longer accurate.
How does the QSWP work?
- You create a free profile (your “expression of interest”) and are entered into a pool of candidates.
- Candidates with the highest scores are selected from the pool and invited to apply. You then have 60 days to gather documents and submit your application for a Certificat de sélection du Québec (CSQ).
- When you have been granted a CSQ, you submit a paper application for permanent residence to the federal government. You likely also need to submit biometrics and may have an interview.
- When your federal application has been approved, you receive a Confirmation of Permanent Residence (CoPR) form and a visa (if your country of nationality requires a visa). You present this to a government official at a port of entry and become a permanent resident.
QSWP basic requirements
In order to qualify to submit an expression of interest for the QSWP, you need to be over the age of 18, have a secondary school (high school) general diploma, and show proof of settlement funds.
For a single person in 2019, the required proof of funds is just over C$3k. That may be the minimum amount required by the program, but it would be a struggle to relocate to a new country with so little money, especially without a job offer lined up and family to stay with.
While Québec manages its own immigration programs, you must still meet all of the federal requirements. Thus, if you’re inadmissible to Canada, your application will be rejected.
Like Express Entry, you do not need a qualifying job offer to get PR through the QSWP. However, having a qualifying job offer increases your chances of being issued an Invitation to Apply (ITA) and having a successful application.
Speaking French is not a requirement, but is highly encouraged. The application and most instructions are only available in French..
Who gets priority?
There are three types of people whose Arrima profiles get priority processing in the new QSWP system:
- people with a qualifying job offer from an employer in Québec
- people whose CSQ application was thrown out when they switched to the new system and who were temporary residents of Quebec when they applied
- people whose CSQ application was thrown out when they switched to the new system and who were in Québec on a student visa or a temporary work permit when they applied
When Arrima was first launched in 2018, only 5k profiles were accepted. These three groups were not subject to the caps. Participants in the Québec Experience Program (Programme de l’expérience québécoise or PEQ) were also exempt from the cap.
Who can come with me?
Your spouse (or common-law partner) and dependent children should be included in your expression of interest and final application. Everyone who is included on your application will receive permanent resident status once you become landed immigrants.
If you are planning on immigrating without your spouse or common-law partner, you do not need to include them in your expression of interest profile. If you get an ITA, you would need to include them as a non-accompanying spouse on your application. If you would like them to join you later, you will need to go through the sponsorship process.
If you wish to immigrate with your child (or children) but without the other parent, you will need to demonstrate that you have legal permission from the other parent.
Do I need an immigration attorney?
Many people hire immigration representatives to help them. Going through the process on your own involves a lot of paperwork, a lot of annoying online forms, and a lot of checking to make sure you filled things out correctly. It’s very tedious and navigating this process in French (or using a translation tool) can be challenging.
You know how much your time is worth and how comfortable you are outsourcing important tasks. Like Express Entry, Arrima is designed to be used without an immigration consultant or attorney.
You’re awarded points based on your:
- language proficiency
- time spent in Québec and/or family in Québec
- financial self-sufficiency
- area of training
- work experience
- qualifying job offer
- the characteristics of your spouse or common-law partner
- your accompanying children (as in, if you have them and how many)
There is a potential total of 120 points. A single person needs at least 50 points. The minimum for candidates with a spouse or common-law partner is 59 points.
If you’re between 18 and 35 years old, you get the maximum number of points for age. The number of points awarded begins dropping at 36 until you receive zero points for being 43 or older. This is a program designed to bring young skilled workers into the country, so the older you are, the more impressive your other factors need to be. Once you receive an ITA, your ages (and the ages of accompanying family members) are ‘locked in’ and the number of points awarded for your age does not change.
Your French gets you points from the High Intermediate (B2) level and above. You are awarded a smaller number of points for speaking English at the Intermediate (CLB 5-8) or above. You will only be awarded points based on a recognized language exam, even if English or French is your native language or you have completed a diploma in the language.
You get a point for having spent more than two weeks in Québec. Having stayed for three months or more, gone to school, or worked in Québec will get you even more points.
You will get points if you have a spouse or common-law partner in Québec. You will also get points for having a child, parent, sibling, or grandparent in Québec.
You’re required to have a secondary school diploma and will receive an increasing number of points for higher levels of education. Your area of specialization is not taken into account here, it is evaluated in the area of training section.
The government of Québec periodically releases a list of areas of training that outlines the number of points awarded for different types of degrees, certifications, and other diplomas. The official list is only available in French, although several websites provide translated versions.
If the list of areas of training is updated after you submit your EOA to the pool or after you submit your application, the number of points you are awarded may change.
You are awarded points for your paid work experience, with points allocated for amounts of time ranging from six months to 48 months or more. This is full-time work or the part-time equivalent.
If you have a qualifying job offer you will receive points for that. The number of points awarded depends on the geographic region the position is located in, with Montreal resulting in the fewest points.
If you have a spouse or common-law partner, you will get points based on their age, language, education, and area of training.
You get points for having dependent children, with more points awarded for children under 13.
You can calculate your score based on information from the Ministère de l’Immigration, de la Diversité et de l’Inclusion website or use a third-party score calculator.
You will be provided with a personalized document checklist by MIDI when you receive your ITA. However, some documents may take more than 60 days to procure, so it is helpful to be prepared. You are likely to need:
- Birth certificates for all applicants
- Passports for all applicants
- Marriage certificate or proof of common-law partnership
- Certified true copies of diplomas and transcripts
- Verification of work history (similar to that required for EE)
- Language exam(s)
Many of the documents required in order to apply for the QSWP must be certified true copies. Documents that are not in English or French must be translated by a recognized translator. Original documents and translated copies must both be provided. The document must be translated in its entirety.
- Police certificate(s)
- Medical exam
You have to take a language exam to demonstrate your proficiency in French and/or English if you want to get points for it.
For French, you can use scores for any of these exams:
- Test d`Evaluation du Français (TEF/TEF Canada)
- Test d`Evaluation du français adapté pour le Québec (TEFaQ)
- Test de connaissance du français (TCF)
- Test de connaissance du français pour le Québec (TCFQ)
- Diplôme d`études en langue française (DELF/DALF)
For English, they use the International English Language Testing System (IELTS).
All of these exam scores expire after two years. Your score needs to be valid when it’s submitted, but it is still accepted if it expires while your application is being processed.
Submit an expression of interest
No documentation is required at this time. However, if you are selected from the applicant pool you will need to provide documentation to verify all information in your profile within 60 days.
You can update information in your EOI profile in Arrima at any time, even if you’ve already submitted it. Changes must be submitted within 30 days of the event (as in, if you earn a degree you need to update your profile within 30 days of it being awarded).
Your Arrima profile expires after 365 days. If you are not selected and issued an ITA in that time, you can create a new profile.
Because the QSWP and EE are separate systems, you can create profiles for both to increase your odds of being selected.
Receive your invitation to apply
If you are selected from the pool, you’ll be invited to apply (ITA) for a Québec Selection Certificate (Certificat de sélection du Québec, or CSQ). You have 60 days to submit your application. You will be provided with a personalized documentation checklist.
It is advisable to begin gathering documents before getting an ITA or you could easily run out of time and have to begin the process over again. While you won’t have your personalized documentation checklist until you get your ITA, it’s not terribly difficult to guess at what documents they will require.
If your ITA expires before you submit your complete application, you can simply submit a new expression of interest.
Request your CSQ
Once you’ve been invited to apply, you submit your application for a CSQ using the Mon projet Québec platform. This is where you upload documents to verify the information you provided in your expression of interest.
The final step in submitting your application for a CSQ is to pay the fees.
Once you have your CSQ you can move on to the next step.
Submit your application for federal immigration
Now that you’ve been approved by Québec and have your CSQ, you need federal approval.
Québec has already assessed your likelihood to be economically and socially successful as an immigrant. The federal government is primarily concerned with confirming that you are admissible to Canada. They evaluate your medical exam and perform a security check.
The medical exam requirements are the same as for the EE system.
Your application needs to be mailed to the Case Processing Centre in Sydney, Nova Scotia:
Centralized Intake Office – Québec Skilled Workers (QSW)
P.O. BOX 8888
Sydney, NS B1P 0C9
You need to pay your application fees and biometrics fees when you submit the application or it will not be processed. This must be done online. You do not have to pay your right of permanent residence fees until your application is approved.
If your application is found to be incomplete it will be returned to you. You can add in any missing information and resubmit it without having to pay additional fees.
You will probably be required to submit biometrics: a photo and fingerprints. This must be done at a Visa Application Centre (VAC) or Application Support Centre (ASC). This was not required prior to 2018.
The IRCC has a tool to help you determine if you need to provide biometrics.
During this time the IRCC may request additional documents or require you to have an interview.
Wait for the final approval
You can begin to prepare for your move while you wait for the IRCC to process your application.
Québec offers several tools, in French only, for holders of a CSQ. The Service d’intégration en ligne has forums, chat rooms, and loads of information about the integration into Québec life. There are also online French courses, information on getting your qualifications recognized, and a job placement tool.
You can check your application status online while it’s being processed. The IRCC may contact you for more information.
It’s important to keep your information current with the IRCC. Contact the IRCC and update your information if:
- your address, telephone number, email address, or any other contact information you’ve provided has changed
- you get married or divorced, or if you begin or end a common-law partnership
- you have a child, adopt a child, or a child dies
Any situation where you are ending a partnership or child custody is unclear will delay your application.
Receive your confirmation of PR and visa
When you get a letter in the mail saying your application for permanent residence in Canada has been approved, you’ll also get a Confirmation of Permanent Residence (CoPR) paper for yourself and any other family members that you applied to immigrate with. The CoPR paper is very important, though it’s not obvious by looking at it. This is your permanent resident visa.
If you’re coming from a country that requires a visa to enter Canada, you’ll also receive a visa for that.
You aren’t a permanent resident yet, even with your CoPR. The final step is when you sign the paper in front of a border agent during your final immigration interview.
The CoPR is a single legal-sized piece of paper with your personal details and a big stamp across it that says “NOT VALID FOR TRAVEL.” It actually looks a bit like a temporary driver’s license. Keep this in a safe place – Canadian customs officers will not allow you to cross the border and declare that you are moving to Canada without your CoPR.
Take careful note of the “valid to” date, which will be exactly one year from when your panel physician submitted the results of your medical exam. You absolutely must declare landing in Canada before this date passes. The IRCC is clear that this cannot be extended for any reason.
If you applied to immigrate with other members of your family, you can land before they do, but they can’t land before the primary applicant. They can, however, enter Canada as a visitor and return to declare landing after you’ve become a permanent resident.
Every family member who is coming with you to Canada needs to declare landing before their CoPR expires.
If your spouse or children do not declare landing before their CoPR expires, you will have to go through the family sponsorship process for them to join you in Canada.
Timeline & fees
The goal is for applications to be processed within 12 months. In July 2019 the anticipated processing time was 15 to 17 months.
You can check application processing times for the federal portion of the application on the IRCC website.
- Québec application processing fee: $798 for the principal applicant / $171 for each accompanying family member
- Federal application processing fee: $550 per adult
- Right of permanent residence fee: $490 per adult
- Federal fees for dependent child: $150 per child
- Biometrics: $85 per person / $170 maximum per family