Immigration activists accused Quebec of violating the rights of foreign students by refusing to recognize their French proficiency certificate.
International university students who wish to remain in the province as a Canadian permanent resident after studying have to jump through several hoops.
One of those is meeting French language standards through the Quebec Experience Program (QEP), which then leads to the Quebec Selection Certificate, a requirement to become a Canadian permanent resident for those who want to reside in Quebec for five years.
Through this route, students must take a course through school boards which offer certificates upon completion.
However, the immigration ministry has recently reversed the certificates of several hundred students, according to immigration lawyer David Chalk.
“The province has designated some courses that are offered by school boards, and now seems to think that those standards in those courses are not the standards they would like to see,” Chalk said.
Chalk added the immigration ministry appeared to have started reviewing certificates in August 2016, but as of March, they began handing rulings on French proficiency.
Students who have had their certificates annulled, received a letter from the ministry demanding they pass verbal exams.
During the test, according to Chalk, students sit down with an examiner (who does not work for the ministry), who tests them on comprehension and general knowledge.
Students must score seven or higher on the comprehension section, and six or more on general knowledge.
If they don’t pass, students cannot apply for Canadian permanent residency through the Quebec Selection Certificate, meaning they cannot stay in Quebec.
Activists added that the letters the students received, accused them of committing fraud.
Chalk rebuked the claims.
“For [the government to welcome international students through QEP] for several years now, and then pull the rug out from them and accuse honest people of lying seems to me like an unwise course of action,” Chalk said.
Fo Niemi, the executive director of the Center for Research-Action on Relations (CRARR), announced he will submit a complaint to Quebec’s ombudsman.
If the ombudsman rules in favour of CRARR, then they can take their complaint to Quebec’s human rights commission.
Meanwhile, there are up to 15 cases before judicial review, according to Chalk.
The Ministry of Immigration did not return Global News’ request for comments.
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