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.
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. Get full details here.
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. Get full details here.
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. Get full details here.
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.
For more information about the Arrima system for Quebec immigration, please refer to our detailed guide.
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.