Canada’s new permanent resident intake continues to suffer as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
New Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) data shows Canada welcomed 15,025 new immigrants in September 2020.
This is low compared with the 35,000 immigrants Canada welcomed in September 2019.
Overall, Canada has welcomed about 143,500 immigrants between January and September which means it is on pace to fall short of 200,000 immigrants by the end of the year. In the first nine months of 2019, Canada welcomed 264,000 immigrants and over 341,000 total last year.
Days before Canada announced it would close its borders to many international travellers in March of this year, immigration minister Marco Mendicino stated the country would target an additional 341,000 new immigrant arrivals in 2020.
Canada will not be able to achieve this target for three major reasons. First, the pandemic has also disrupted the immigration system. Social distancing measures have affected everything from the ability to complete official language tests such as IELTS or CELPIP, to submitting biometrics, to obtaining visas from Canadian government authorities. Secondly, thousands of confirmation of permanent residence (COPR) holders who are exempt from Canada’s coronavirus travel restrictions remain stuck abroad because their COPRs have expired during the pandemic. Third, Canada’s coronavirus travel restrictions do not allow individuals who obtained their COPR after March 18 to enter Canada unless they fall under an exemption.
At the same time, the pandemic is temporary and Canada confirmed two weeks ago that it remains committed to welcoming high levels of immigration moving forward.
In late October, Mendicino announced Canada would significantly increase its immigration targets to compensate for the fall in immigration this year.
Under its new 2021-2023 Immigration Levels Plan, Canada will aim to welcome over 400,000 immigrants per year moving forward which will be the highest levels in Canadian history.
To enable it to achieve these targets, IRCC has been hosting Express Entry draws mostly on a bi-weekly basis throughout the pandemic. The two most recent Express Entry draws have seen 4,500 invitations to apply for permanent residence issued in each draw which is tied for the highest levels per draw since Express Entry launched in January 2015.
Express Entry is Canada’s flagship system for managing skilled worker applications.
The second major way Canada welcomes skilled workers is through the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP).
PNP draws have also occurred regularly throughout the pandemic and earlier this week Canada’s largest province, Ontario, held a draw.
In all, Canada’s provinces issued nearly 3,000 provincial nominations in October.
Canada is set to fall short of 200,000 new permanent residents this year for the first time since 1999.
Nonetheless, the immigration system continues to operate and new candidates are able to enter the Express Entry pool and submit applications through the likes of the PNP and other economic class programs.
This is due to language tests such as IELTS and CELPIP being available, as well as educational credential assessment (ECA) organizations such as World Education Services (WES) being operational. Individuals who do obtain COPRs can expect to enter Canada once travel restrictions are modified or are lifted altogether following the widespread distribution of coronavirus vaccines.
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