'It's a bit weird': She's French, but Quebec denies residency over language

A graduate student from France says it’s a “bit weird” she was denied permanent residency in Quebec after the province said she was unable to demonstrate adequate proficiency in the French language.

Emilie Dubois moved from France to Quebec in 2012, to complete her doctorate at Quebec City’s French-language Laval University.

After Dubois completed her doctorate in January 2018, she applied for a selection certificate under the Quebec experience program, which allows foreign students with a qualifying diploma or work experience in the province to fast-track their residency applications.

In December 2018, Dubois received some unexpected news.

The province told her she had not demonstrated adequate knowledge of the French language, a requirement to obtain the selection certificate, because part of her thesis on cellular and molecular biology was written in English.

Dubois explained that only one out of the five chapters in her thesis was in English because it was based on an English article she had published for a scientific journal.

“In science, we are used to sharing our work and knowledge with the community and this is usually from English-speaking jaws,” she told CTV’s Your Morning on Friday. “This is just another way to work in science.”

Even though the 31-year-old scientific graphic designer had completed her doctorate at a French-language school, the province’s immigration ministry said her level of French wasn’t enough to obtain the certificate because the thesis chapter in English meant she hadn’t completed the entirety of her studies in French.

Undeterred, Dubois set out to prove her command of the language by taking a French test recognized by the ministry.

She passed the test, but it still wasn’t enough.

Dubois said the ministry sent her a letter this past spring informing her they were maintaining their earlier decision concerning her residency.

“When I got the answer I was a bit lost,” she said.

While Dubois has been working as a self-employed scientific illustrator and designer, she said she’s considering becoming a “qualified worker,” or employee of someone else, so she can reapply for residency before her three-year work permit expires in March 2021.

Dubois said she’s hopeful the province will reconsider its decision after a member of the Coalition Avenir Quebec government tweeted that her case was being reviewed.

Catherine Dorion, Dubois’ local member of the national assembly, has also offered to help her in her cause.

In the meantime, Dubois said she’s just waiting to see if her residency application proceeds so she can stay in Quebec with her partner and puppy.

“It’s a bit weird, but I’m really hopeful that things will be solved,” she said.