So you decided to make your stay in Quebec a bit more permanent. The process for doing so is a bit involved, but nothing that someone with a high-school diploma cannot manage to do. Remember though that if you have the money you can always choose to hire a law-firm to fill out the forms for you. You gain their experience, you lose some money, but you should always remember that your application will never get preferential treatment because of that.
Enough ranting, let's get to business.
Before you apply:
- Evaluate your chances of being selected by Quebec using the official tool for doing so. Don't be silly and pay anything to those websites that will "evaluate your file" for a "small fee".
- If you want to know the details or want to compute your "score", there exists an official document (the law, in French) that is behind the official website. To answer question 1.3, you will also need the liste des domaines de formation, which contains the number of points that Quebec awards for each type of specialization that you have. Otherwise, the calculation of your score is pretty straighforward. Just be realistic in your estimation of your language skills.
- Depending on the number of points that you get, you'll either be rejected, will be invited for an interview, or given a CSQ straight away. See the next step for more on how the number of points influences your "path".
- If you're a foreign student studying in Quebec, there are special rules applicable to you. For one, you can actually apply in Montreal (instead of your home country). Secondly, you can apply before finishing your studies (up to 12 months before, to be precise). Also
"The requirement that workers should be available to enter the job market will be deemed met if, at the time of your application, you are within 12 months of completing your program of study."
- What this means is that you don't need to show work experience in order to qualify as a skilled worker! But having the work experience won't hurt you either.
- If you're a PhD student, the rules get a bit more special, because PhD programs can "last forever" (in their words) . You can apply for a CSQ anytime after you're done with the coursework required for your program, but not earlier than 12 months after you started your PhD. Note that qualifying exams (called "predoc" at University of Montreal) count as "coursework", as I found out during the process. Basically, you can apply when you're an "all but dissertation" PhD student.
- You won't find the rules applicable to PhD students anywhere on the website. I got this information by attending a session organized by the Ministere at my school and by confirming this information over email with the Ministere. You don't have to take my word for it, just email or call them to verify that you can apply. In fact, it is a really good idea to do so, it'll save you some trouble (and, possibly, $390).
The application for a Certificat de Selection du Quebec (CSQ):
- Fill out the application form. Be smart, avoid the ink and fill it out on your computer. The linked pdf is fillable: just save it somewhere on your computer and fill it out by opening it from there (don't fill it out in your browser). One can actually save intermediate versions of the pdf, which is nice.
- The form itself is very straightforward. Be realistic about your language skills. It might bite you later on if you overestimate your knowledge of either languages (if you have to go to an interview). Underestimating is also not recommended, as you might end up needlessly at an interview. Ask your friends to give you an honest opinion.
- If you have no friends :), you can use the official guides for that: in English and in French.
- Attach all the required forms and documents. The page is very detailed and well-done, so I don't have that many comments about it. In my case, I attached a letter saying that I did my undergrad in English and my grad studies in French, as supporting documents for my self-evaluation of language skills. This seems to have done the trick, they didn't ask for more.
- Be sure to sign the Contrat relatif a la capacite financiere, as it's an important piece of paper. I made the mistake of filling out Section C and I was asked to send another copy, but with Section B filled out instead, so be careful.
- Attach payment. I paid by credit card, it allowed me to see when they started processing my file (this is when they charge the card).
- Be sure to have certified copies of everything that's not an original and translated versions of documents that are not in French or English. See notes below for help on both issues, if you're in Quebec.
- In principle, if you have doubts about the completeness of your application, contact Immigration Quebec. There are many ways: in person, phone, email, fax, snail mail. If you're a foreign student in Quebec, you can also try to schedule an appointment with the Service aux etudiants etrangers who, in principle, could look at your file and tell you if anything's missing. The lady (a certain Ms. Quan) who's supposedly doing this was always unreachable and never answered any of her messages, so take this info for what it's worth...
- Send your application with a traceable service (registered mail, xpresspost, or courier) so that you know it arrived safely. Make photocopies of everything you send.
Additional (potentially time-saving) tip
At one of the information sessions that the MICC organized at our school, they also mentioned that one can do the following trick when applying for a CSQ. You can complete the whole Application for Permanent Residence (IMM 0008 and the required schedules) and send it with your application for a CSQ. What the MICC will do is it will stamp your PR application with the date of receipt by the MICC. This is so that when you send the application to Buffalo, it gets into the queue as if it was sent to them on the day you applied to the CSQ. Neat, eh?
I'm pretty sure though that the MICC send this so-called "lock-in" date directly to Buffalo, but it won't hurt doing the above anyway.
How do I get certified copies of documents in Quebec?
Getting certified copies of (basically) anything is easy and cheap in Quebec. In this province, they have these so-called commissaires a l'assermentation (commissioners for oaths), who can certify copies of documents. The easiest way to find them is to go to your local Town Hall (Hotel de Ville) and ask if they offer these services. Call ahead to be sure that someone is there. You will need
- to bring the originals,
- the copies,
- an ID,
- proof of residence,
- to be sane (they have to check that you're not deranged :)),
- and be prepared to pay up to $5 per document/sheet of paper.
How do I find a translator in Quebec?
The Quebec ordre des traducteurs has tool for that. Their search engine / directory is pretty self-explanatory. Expect to pay $25-30 for simple one-page documents, and $5 or so for each additional copy.