To start with, we must first clarify whether immigration is regulated by the federal or provincial governments. Section 95 ofThe Constitution Act of 1867 attributes to the provincial Legislature, or provincial governments, the powers to enact laws in relation to immigration, subject to any laws adopted by the Parliament of Canada, or the federal government, in connection with the same. Essentially, provincial laws in the matter of immigration shall apply unless otherwise repugnant to any federal statutes adopted by the Parliament of Canada. In other words, what this means is that our constitution splits the powers and competence over immigration between the federal and provincial governments.
More specifically, as for the legal landscape in Quebec and as discussed earlier, both the federal and provincial statues are applicable: the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, a federal Act, and an Act respecting immigration to Quebec, the provincial counterpart. Therefore, in the matter of immigration, one will need to consider the foregoing laws and all of its associated regulations to be able to paint a complete portrait of the Quebec immigration legal landscape.
Now, what are the desired objectives of both the federal and provincial government of Quebec in regulating immigration? Both the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and Act respecting immigration to Quebec objectives are similar in nature. Section 3 of the former outlines several key goals sought by the Parliament of Canada which I textually reproduce herein:
(a) to permit Canada to pursue the maximum social, cultural and economic benefits of immigration;
(b) to enrich and strengthen the social and cultural fabric of Canadian society, while respecting the federal, bilingual and multicultural character of Canada;
(c) to support and assist the development of minority official languages communities in Canada;
(d) to support the development of a strong and prosperous Canadian economy, in which the benefits of immigration are shared across all regions of Canada;
(e) to see that families are reunited in Canada;
(f) to promote the successful integration of permanent residents into Canada, while recognizing that integration involves mutual obligations for new immigrants and Canadian society;
(g) to support, by means of consistent standards and prompt processing, the attainment of immigration goals established by the Government of Canada in consultation with the provinces;
(h) to facilitate the entry of visitors, students and temporary workers for purposes such as trade, commerce, tourism, international understanding and cultural, educational and scientific activities;
(i) to protect the health and safety of Canadians and to maintain the security of Canadian society;
(j) to promote international justice and security by fostering respect for human rights and by denying access to Canadian territory to persons who are criminals or security risks; and
(k) to work in cooperation with the provinces to secure better recognition of the foreign credentials of permanent residents and their more rapid integration into society.
As you can see, some of the aforementioned objectives have a political connotation and may as a result be driven by popular demand and pressures on our elected representatives. As for the Quebec Legislature, pursuant to Section 3 of the Act, reproduced integrally, the below shall guide the selection of foreign nationals in Quebec:
(a) to contribute to the enrichment of the socio-cultural heritage of Québec, to the stimulation of its economic development and to the pursuit of its demographic objectives;
(b) to facilitate the reuniting, in Québec, of Canadian citizens and permanent residents with their close relatives from abroad;
(c) to enable Québec to assume its share of responsibilities regarding the reception of refugees and other persons in a particularly distressful situation;
(d) to favour the coming, among foreign nationals who apply therefor, of persons who will be able to become successfully established in Québec;
(e) to facilitate the conditions of the stay in Québec of foreign nationals wishing to study, work temporarily or receive medical treatment, having regard to the reasons for their coming and the capacity of Québec to receive them.
Clearly, there are certain common guidelines that transpire from both the federal and provincial statues: (1) economic and social enrichment, (2) facilitate the reuniting of families, (3) strengthen the educational and scientific activities. One’s application may be more favorably treated if the applicant’s personal circumstances are in line with the above objectives as set forth in the subject immigration statues.
However, every three years, there is public consultation on the planning in respect of permanent immigration to Quebec allowing the opportunity to rebuild consensuses around the key objectives of the Quebec immigration policy. In 1990, the National Assembly unanimously adopted a policy statement further defining Quebec’s key immigration objectives: (1) recovery of its demographic situation, (2) economic enhancement, (3) protection and survival of its French character and (4) openness to the world. As a result, new wave of immigration to Quebec shall be analyzed and treated according to the immigration policy applicable at that point in time and a different weight may be given to each of the aforementioned policy objectives.
To sum up, for an applicant to be admitted to immigrate to Quebec, the society must benefit in the aggregate unless otherwise admitted for humanitarian reasons. In the event that it is viewed that an applicant may be a potential burden on the collectivity or will be unable to positively contribute to the provincial demographic recover or economic enhancement, the process may become more tedious and difficult.
I’ve briefly given you an overview of the objectives pursued by the federal and provincial government in the matter of immigration. Please remember that there are many other factors that are considered as for a legal standpoint in reviewing one’s application for immigration into Quebec. In the event you have any particular questions with respect to your own personal situation and circumstances, I highly recommend that you seek professional advice.