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After Crushing Foreign Students' Dreams, The CAQ Is Changing Immigration Rules (Again)

This isn't the first time Quebec's government has backpedaled on bad legislation.
Staff Writer
After Crushing Foreign Students' Dreams, The CAQ Is Changing Immigration Rules (Again)
  • The CAQ has decided to backtrack on changing its student immigration policies after receiving a lot of negative backlash over it.
  • Many foreign students would have been negatively affected if the CAQ went through with its changes to the Quebec Experience Program (PEQ).
  • Read the online reactions below!

After a huge public outcry, the CAQ has once again backtracked on an unpopular reform as part of its immigration plan. A few days ago, the CAQ made changes to an immigration program that made it easier for foreign students to become permanent residents. The changes, which were to go into effect between November and January, further limited the number of study programs and career paths the government accepted for applicants to the Quebec Experience Program (PEQ).

Today, Minister of Immigration, Francisation and Integration, Simon Jolin-Barrette backtracked on enforcing these changes for people who are already in Quebec and participating in the program. The PEQ is an immensely popular program and the CAQ's tightening of its rules and procedures would have left many foreign students in the lurch. 

Along with yesterday's announcement that new arrivals to Quebec will only receive services in French, the government quietly reformed the PEQ, slashing the number of professions that qualify from 500 to 162. This announcement and the changes weren't approved by CAQ leader Francois Legault, according to CBC News. 

Critics warn that these reforms will hurt key industries in the province such as technology and computer science. In many cases, these are world-renowned programs that have historically attracted many immigrants to study in Quebec.

Jolin-Barrette claims that he had a change of heart after hearing the testimony of foreign students who will be affected by the changes to the PEQ.

The PEQ is a program that allows foreign students to apply for permanent residency once they graduate. This fast-track to residency is immensely popular and allows foreign students to work and live in the province of their choice. 

Translation:Yesterday, neither PM Legault nor the #CAQ leader were able to look into the eyes of the victims of their decision. This morning, in the face of a massive media crisis, the government was forced to partially backtrack on this shameful immigration reform.

Jolin-Barrette bowed to public pressure as thousands of students and Quebecers reacted negatively to the news. Originally, the reforms would've forced students to leave the province and uproot their lives. 

The Minister will now allow those who are still in school to finish their studies and qualify for the PEQ. Changes will still be made, however, and new students will not have the same benefits as before. 

Essentially, the reforms will funnel every foreign student who graduates in Quebec to apply for residency through the Skilled Worker Program rather than the PEQ. With even more restrictions in the Skilled Worker Program, many students feel that they'll have to leave the province.

READ ALSO: The CAQ Says New Arrivals To Quebec Cannot Receive Government Services In English

According to the program, graduates must meet the following criteria: 

  • Demonstrate advanced intermediate knowledge of spoken French;

  • Undertake to provide for their basic needs and, where applicable, those of their spouse or de facto spouse and dependent children included in their application for permanent selection, for a minimum period of three months;

  • Be at least 18 years old, hold a valid passport and, if they are applying from Quebec, be legally in Quebec at the time of application;

  • Intend to settle in Quebec to hold a job;

  • Have stayed temporarily in Quebec for the primary purpose of studying and have respected the conditions of their stay;

  • Have completed at least 900 hours of full-time study in Quebec or, if their attestation or diploma attests to over 1,800 hours of study, they must have lived in Quebec for at least half of the duration of their study program;

Translation: Heard in an open line ... "I'm not racist, but it's normal that immigrants have fewer rights than Quebecers" ... Bravo, everyone...

When asked if students would be eligible for a "grandfather clause," Jolin-Barrette dismissed the question and said that his new plan is bold and ambitious. 

As mentioned, the Minister apparently didn't get approval from the CAQ brass to proceed with these reforms. Which begs the question, was it really the public who put pressure on Jolin-Barrette or was it his bosses?

It's important to note that students who are still in school will still be able to qualify for the PEQ, so long as they meet the selection criteria. 

Students, however, are still highly confused and worried about their futures in a province that once welcomed them with open arms. 

Many critics are accusing the CAQ of installing highly authoritarian and divisive measures in an effort to stop immigration in the province.

The CAQ hasn't been shy about its heavy-handed approach to immigration reform and has installed numerous controversial rules and regulations.

This isn't the first time that the CAQ or its members have backtracked on hastily announced changes.

It will be interesting to see to what extent the CAQ and Jolin-Barrette reform the PEQ rules and regulations. For many people, it seems counterintuitive, backwards, even, to impose such strict regulations on foreign students who can provide a huge boon to the job market in Quebec. 

The CAQ is simultaneously taking a full-frontal assault from Anglophone minority groups and immigrant minority groups so the next few months will certainly be interesting for the province. 

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