Canada is on track to meet its goal of welcoming 401,000 new immigrants in 2021.
This afternoon, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) released new data showing that 23,375 people were granted permanent residence in February. IRCC data previously indicated that Canada welcomed nearly 25,000 immigrants in January. In total, Canada has already welcomed 48,000 new permanent residents this year. By comparison, Canada welcomed 50,600 new immigrants in the first two months of last year.
The release of IRCC data next month is likely to show that Canada welcomed more new immigrants by the end of March 2021 than during the same period in 2020. The reason is that the system of immigration from Canada has stabilized as immigration declined significantly last March due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The pandemic meant that Canada fell short of its goal of welcoming 341,000 immigrants in 2020. Instead, it only welcomed 184,370 immigrants last year. To help alleviate this shortfall, Canada's Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino announced in October the most ambitious immigration plan in the country's history. The country aims to welcome 401,000 new permanent residents in 2021, which would equal the record reached in 1913.
Immigration to Canada was booming before the pandemic, with the country welcoming between 25,000 and 35,000 new immigrants per month.
The primary way Canada is looking to meet its 2021 immigration levels plan target is to transfer those already here to permanent residence.
Groups like temporary foreign workers and former international students can earn more points on many of Canada's more than 100 economy-class courses. Many of these pathways are only accessible to applicants with Canadian experience. For example, the Canadian Experience Class program is the primary vehicle through which the country transitions these individuals to permanent residence.
In February, IRCC hosted the largest Express Entry draw ever, inviting more than 27,000 CEC applicants to apply for permanent residence. Express Entry is Canada's primary way of welcoming economy class immigrants and accounts for about a quarter of the country's immigrant arrivals each year.
In addition to people in transition from within the country, Canada is seeking to welcome from abroad those who are exempt from its COVID-19 travel restrictions.
For example, sponsored family members of Canadian citizens and permanent residents are currently among those eligible to travel to Canada. The levels plan foresees the arrival of just over 100,000 family class immigrants this year.
It remains to be seen when others already approved for permanent residence will be allowed to move to Canada.
We should expect permanent resident new arrivals to pick up steam in the second half of this year. Immigration to Canada is highest during the warmer months of spring and summer. In the context of the pandemic, that means those who are eligible to immigrate to Canada could delay their arrival until the warmer months. Additionally, many of the people in Canada who received an invitation to permanent residence last year and in the first semester of this year are likely to be officially granted permanent resident status by the end of 2021.
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