New PEQ laws will come into effect Dec. 31 and students are scared
With Quebec updating its PEQ (Programme de l’expérience québécoise) immigration laws in January, the CSU Legal Information Clinic (LIC) hosted an information session to give international students an opportunity to learn more about the new laws.
David Chalk, an immigration lawyer who frequently works with the CSU, was the event’s guest speaker; he detailed a number of the possible ways to immigrate to Canada, but focused primarily on the PEQ. Walter Chi-yan Tom, manager of the Legal Information Clinic, hosted and organized the event.
The current PEQ laws do not require international students to complete any skilled or full-time work before applying for permanent residency; however, after Dec. 31, 2020, that will change.
Students will be required to complete at least one year of full-time skilled work after completing their degree in Quebec to be eligible for Quebec residency.
When the new rules were announced, there was a promise made that students who came to Canada under the old rules would be grandfathered out. That promise is no longer being honoured.
“They did grandfather temporary foreign workers, but they did not grandfather international students,” said Tom.
The changes were supposed to occur in June of this year, but a series of student-led protests pressured the CAQ to push the deadline back to Dec. 31.
The changing rules have made it difficult for many students to plan for their future in Canada. In the Q&A portion of the info session, many students asked if they would be able to apply for the PEQ under the current rules if they graduate this fall.
Students who graduate this year and are able to get the required certifications and documents will be able to take advantage of the old rules.
“But if you’re graduating only after the fall semester, it will be a pretty tight squeeze,” said Tom.
If these students cannot get the required documents from the university before the end of the fall semester and apply prior to the 31st, they won’t be accepted under the new rules.
“Unless the universities are going to make an exceptional effort to get all this out to the students,” said Tom.
At the moment, it is difficult for students to understand whether they meet the current requirements at all.
“The government of Quebec has done very funny things with this because they are only putting out the new form on their website, even though the rules are not yet enforced,” said Chalk.
Tom highlighted how important it is for the CSU to host these events and keep students informed.
“The CSU is all about empowering students, defending the rights of international students because [they] are the most vulnerable in Concordia, anyone who has temporary immigration status that can be taken away in an instant.”
In terms of students’ reactions to the changes, “They are freaking out,” said Tom.
“The reason why [international students] are here is so they can get their permanent residence. They believed they had a chance of getting permanent residency based on the rules when they came in.”
About 50 students attended the event, which was hosted as a livestream on YouTube. For students who wish to view it it can be found on the CSU’s YouTube channel.
Update: Dec. 10: After lengthy discussions with the CSU graphic designer, who requested @the.beta.lab’s original graphic be removed since it included a version of the CSU’s old logo. The Concordian agreed to replace the original graphic with documentation from the live event.