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If you're planning to study or start a new chapter of your life in Quebec, the CAQ is your golden ticket.

Quebec stands out as a favorite destination for many, offering a unique mix of European charm and the opportunities of North America. With cities like Montreal, often ranked among the world’s best for students, it’s no surprise that the region attracts many international students. But Quebec’s appeal goes beyond just its cities; the entire province is a welcoming place for newcomers to Canada.

Keep in mind, Quebec is also known for often operating some things slightly differently than the rest of Canada. You may need some guidance to navigate your way here.

 

So, where do you start? The first step is getting your visa sorted out, and a key part of that is understanding the Quebec Acceptance Certificate (CAQ).

What is the CAQ and who can apply?

The Quebec Acceptance Certificate (CAQ) is an essential document for international students and immigrants intending to stay and work in Quebec for more than six months.

It’s not just a formality; it’s your key to embarking on your journey in Quebec. Issued by the Ministry of Immigration, Francisation and Integration (MIFI) of Quebec, the CAQ is what sets the province apart in the Canadian immigration landscape.

What is important to know is that Quebec has its own immigration rules, different from the rest of Canada. The CAQ is your first step in meeting these specific requirements. It’s a prerequisite before you can apply for a study or work permit from the Canadian federal government. 

Think of it as Quebec’s way of saying, “Welcome, we’ve reviewed your plans, and you’re good to go!”

For international students, the CAQ is a confirmation that Quebec has approved your choice of school and program. The necessary nod from the province that your educational path aligns with their standards.

IMPORTANT! The CAQ is not your study or work permit; that’s a separate chapter with the federal government. But without the CAQ, that next chapter in Quebec doesn’t start.

Also, remember, the CAQ is for a temporary stay in Quebec. It’s different from a CSQ, for a permanent stay.

More on that below.

What do you need to apply for a CAQ?

The government of Quebec requires a few key documents for a CAQ Application:

  1. A Valid Passport: Seems obvious, but your passport needs to be valid for the duration of your intended stay in Quebec.
  2. A letter of acceptance by a Designated Learning Institution (DLI): If you’re a student, your journey starts with an acceptance letter from a Quebec educational institution. This is non-negotiable.
  3. A Proof of Financial Self-Sufficiency: Quebec wants to know if you can financially sustain yourself. This means showing you have enough funds to cover tuition, living expenses, and return travel.
  4. Health and Travel Insurance: You must prove that you’ll be covered for health insurance during your stay. For some, this could also mean purchasing travel insurance.
  5.  A Clear Background Check: A clean criminal record is a must. This shows that you’re not a security risk to the province or Canada.
  6. Language Proficiency: Depending on your program, you might need to demonstrate proficiency in French or English. This isn’t just about being able to get by; it’s about ensuring you can thrive in your studies or work.
  7. Application Fee: There’s a non-refundable fee of $128 for students and $222 for workers for processing your CAQ application. This fee is updated on January 1 of each year.
    Keep in mind that this is just the CAQ fee. Other fees will be required by the government of Canada for your study or work permit.

 

Tips for a Smooth Application Process

  • Start Early: Don’t wait until the last minute. Processing times can vary, and you don’t want to be caught in a time crunch.
  • Gather All Documents: Make sure you have all the necessary documents ready before you start the application. Missing documents can delay the process.

Follow Instructions Carefully: Every detail matters. Read and follow the application instructions meticulously to avoid any mistakes that could set you back.

CAQ application process: A step-by-step guide

Step 1: Gather Your Documents

Before you even start filling out the application, make sure you have all the necessary documents listed above on hand. Your passport, acceptance letter, proof of financial self-sufficiency, health and travel insurance, clean background check, language proficiency evidence (if required). Everything!

Step 2: Complete the Online Application

Head over to the Quebec Immigration website to access the online application for the CAQ. Fill out the application form carefully, ensuring all information is accurate and up-to-date.

Keep in mind that the application form is different for students and workers, so be sure to select the one that applies to you.

Step 3: Pay the Application Fee

Upon completing the application, you’ll be prompted to pay the application fee. This fee is non-refundable, so double-check your application before proceeding. Remember to keep a record of the payment for your files.

Step 4: Submit the Application

Once your application is complete and the fee is paid, submit your application. A confirmation receipt will be generated. Print this out or save a digital copy for your records.

Step 5: Track Your Application

After submission, you can track the status of your application through the Quebec Immigration website. This will give you updates on the progress and any additional information or documents you might need to provide.

Step 6: Respond to Additional Requests

In some cases, you may be asked to provide additional information or documents. Respond to these requests promptly to avoid delays in the processing of your application.

Step 7: Receive Your CAQ

Once your application is approved, you’ll receive your CAQ. Review it for accuracy and store it safely, as you’ll need it for your study or work permit application with the Canadian federal government.

Step 8: Apply for a Study or Work Permit

With your CAQ in hand, you can now proceed to apply for the necessary study or work permit through Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).

 

Remember! Stay vigilant about any updates or changes during your application process. You wouldn’t want to miss any critical information and have to start over. 

Pro tip: regularly check the official Quebec Immigration site, your emails and even your spam.

How Long Does a CAQ Last and Can It Be Renewed?

Your Quebec Acceptance Certificate isn’t just a one-time pass; its duration and renewal options play a big role in how you plan your stay in Quebec. It varies though.

CAQ Validity for Students

For students, the CAQ is tailored to your academic timeline. Generally, it’s valid for the duration of your study program, up to a maximum of 49 months. This period includes not just your study time but also an additional grace period to wrap things up or prepare for further steps, like applying for a work permit or extending your stay.

CAQ Validity for Workers

The validity of a CAQ for workers varies. It’s usually tied to the length of your employment contract in Quebec. Since every job situation is unique, the duration can differ from one person to another.

Renewing Your CAQ

Can you extend your time in Quebec beyond the initial CAQ duration? Absolutely, but it’s not automatic. You’ll need to apply for a renewal. Here’s the lowdown:

Students: If your studies are extending beyond the initial CAQ validity, you must apply for a renewal before your current CAQ expires. The Government of Quebec advises for at least three months in advance. This is essential to maintain your legal status in Quebec.

Workers: Similarly, if your work contract is extended or you switch jobs requiring a longer stay, you’ll need to apply for a CAQ renewal.

The Renewal Process

Renewing your CAQ involves a similar process to your initial application. You need to provide updated documentation, such as a new acceptance letter from your educational institution or an extended work contract, fill in the form again and pay a renewal fee. Start this process well in advance of your CAQ’s expiry date to ensure a seamless transition.

How to Stay in Quebec After Receiving Your CAQ

You realized that the Quebec life is for you and you’re thinking of making it a longer-term home? In addition to renewing your CAQ, there are a few pathways to extend your stay:

  • Explore Work Opportunities: For students, look into post-graduation work permits. They’re valid for up to the same length as your study program and will enable you to work for any eligible employer in Canada.
    Workers can seek extensions or changes in their employment contracts to extend their stay.

Transition to Permanent Residency: Now is the time to aim for the holy grail of immigration in Canada! Quebec offers several programs for students and workers to transition to permanent residency. Programs like the Quebec Experience Program (PEQ) are tailored for those who’ve spent time in Quebec and wish to settle permanently. After securing your CAQ, you can set yourself up for a CSQ (Québec Selection Certificate). This will be your pass to submit an official application for permanent residency.

FAQ

What to do if I don’t receive my CAQ within 8 weeks after applying?

Why is CAQ essential when moving to Quebec?

How much is a CAQ application?

How long does a CAQ last?

Do I need to renew my CAQ?

About the author

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Rebecca Major

She/Her
Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant
Rebecca Major is a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant (R511564) with nearly 15 years of licenced Canadian Immigration experience, gained after graduating with a Bachelor of Laws in the UK. She specializes in Canadian immigration at Moving2Canada.
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Citation "Certificat d’Acceptation du Québec (CAQ) – Certificate of Acceptance of Quebec." Moving2Canada. . Copy for Citation