QUEBEC IMMIGRATION: HOW TO FILE AN APPLICATION WITH POOR FRENCH SKILLS AND YET BE SUCCESSFUL
On 9 September 2013, the Quebec Ministry of Immigration (MICC) has introduced new rules concerning the so called “francisation” in the context of the regulatory changes brought about on August 1st 2013 for the skilled workers.
“Francisation” is defined as an administrative tool that allows an exception to grant special treatment to the candidate whose profile is interesting for Quebec, but who does not meet the selection criteria, specifically because of poor knowledge of French. To confirm that he/she has reached the required level, the applicant (and the spouse, as the case may be) will have to submit to the MICC the results of a French language test within a certain deadline.
What is important to remember is that the immigration officer can now refer the applicant for “francisation” even at the stage of preliminary examination, as opposed to the previous procedure, when such a decision could only be taken after a selection interview. Still, the previous procedure continues to apply to candidates who have filed their application before August 1, 2013 and for which the preliminary examination has started, but the final decision has not yet been taken.
For candidates who have applied for immigration before August 1, 2013 for whom the preliminary examination has not yet started and who therefore are subject to the new selection grid, the rules are as follows:
• The single applicant must obtain a minimum score of 39 points for all factors of the grid, except for the “adaptability”.
• If the applicant is married and both members of the couple are referred for “francization”, the principal applicant must accordingly reach a minimum score of 43 points.
• If only the married principal applicant is referred for this operation, a minimum score of 47 points is required for all factors of the grid, except for the “adaptability”.
• In all cases, when counting the expected improvement of his/her French skills, the candidate must be able to obtain sufficient additional points so as to reach the pass mark for preliminary examination, i.e. 49 points for the single candidate and 57 points for the married one.
• At the time of the preliminary examination, the “francisation” is possible only if the principal applicant has already reached an advanced beginner to intermediate level 4-6 on the Quebec Scale (or A2 to B1 according to the European standards).
• No “francisation” can be used if the candidate has already demonstrated a B2 level in French.
• The expected increase must not exceed three levels of proficiency.
• A deadline of maximum 18 months is established for the candidates to elevate their skills in French to the required to level. With the required improvement in French, they must be able to obtain sufficient additional points to reach the pass mark for the preliminary examination, namely 49 points for a single and 57 points for a married applicant.
Similar rules have been established for candidates who have applied for immigration after August 1, 2013, except that they must already have a low-intermediate level (B1, i.e. skill level 5 or 6 on the Quebec Scale) at the time of the preliminary examination; also, they only have 12 months in order to improve their language skills.
To confirm that he/she has reached the required level of competence, one must submit to the MICC the results of a new test within the allowed time.
To sum up, the “francisation” is a very important solution for those who wish to avoid having their applications returned because the 20,000 applications cap had been reached before they were able to demonstrate the B2 level in French. However, to merely take that risk without consulting an authorized (by MICC) immigration practitioner, may result in a refusal for the simple reason that the immigration officer might not considered the candidate to be among “those whose socio-professional profile is interesting for Quebec”. Let us not forget that we are dealing with an “exceptional administrative measure” and that the criteria the immigration officer is using in order to decide whether to use it or not are extremely sophisticated and complex.