With 2020 firmly behind us, it’s time to look at the year ahead and see how Canada intends to tackle its ambitious immigration plans even as the country continues to deal with the ramifications of the pandemic and prepares to roll out a massive vaccination campaign.
Canada’s Immigration Numbers from 2020
According to Minister Marco Mendicino’s 2020-2022 Immigration Levels Plan, Canada’s intent for 2020 was to welcome 341,000 newcomers into the country with an additional 351,000 obtaining their permanent residency in 2021.
COVID derailed those plans and the first six months of 2020 saw only 103,420 new permanent residents entering the country instead of the 170,500 initially planned for.
As the first wave of COVID began to subside and stay under control, Canada continued processing immigration applications and the country saw a surge of Express Entry and Provincial Nominee Program draws with up to 5,000 Invitations to Apply (ITAs) being issued per draw.
In fact, the year ended on a high note with Canada issuing a record-breaking, 107,350 ITAs to Express Entry candidates. The highest number of ITAs issued since the program was launched in 2015.
The exact targets for 2020 may not have been met but Canada did extraordinarily well given the challenges the world is facing as it grapples with the pandemic.
Impact of COVID on Immigration and Travel to Canada
When the World Health Organization (WHO) officially declared COVID a pandemic on March 11 2020, countries around the world shut down and closed their borders. Trudeau officially closed its border to non-Canadians on March 16 2020, which had a significant impact on immigration and potential newcomers.
As the pandemic holds strong with a second, deadlier wave of COVID sweeping through the country, it is difficult to predict what will happen when it comes to immigration, travelling and tourism. What we do know however is that Canada has put out an ambitious and aggressive Immigration Levels Plan for 2021-2023 with the intention of welcoming 401,000 new immigrants this year alone!
That number will increase in 2022 to 411,000 and 421,000 in 2023.
What happens in 2021 will depend largely on how the vaccination campaign unfolds and how successful the country is at flattening the COVID curve.
What may end up happening if COVID continues to hamper the arrival of newcomers, is that Canada will see an influx of immigrants arriving into the country end of 2021 or even the following year. As provinces hold draws and the government continues to process applications, individuals may get approved for permanent residency but only come into the country once it is safe to do so.
Travel and tourism in Canada which is an important source of revenue for the provincial and federal government, also took a hard hit with the pandemic with tourism spending by international visitors at a near standstill and down by 96.2%.
Effects of the Vaccine
Given the significant negative impact on the economy and immigration, vaccines cannot come fast enough.
With the approval of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, there is hope for life returning to normal by year end. The first hurdle is to vaccinate all Canadians, the second goal is ensuring everyone who comes into the country is not carrying the virus.
To date, Canada has received 423,000 doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines and provinces are working hard to establish and launch mass scale vaccination program.
On the vaccine front, Procurement Minister Anita Anand’s office told me that as of today, Canada has received 423K Pfizer & Moderna doses— Mackenzie Gray (@Gray_Mackenzie) January 4, 2021
According to the @ctvnews Covid Vaccine Tracker, we administered 121,327 doses, or 28.6% of what we have. #cdnpolihttps://t.co/cEEwLefBaA
Once the program is well underway, Canada will likely begin lifting some of the travel bans in place, which will go a long way towards meeting immigration targets as well as reviving the country’s tourism industry.
Prime Minister Trudeau will be providing his cabinet members with new mandate letters in the coming weeks. Once Minister Mendicino receives his directives, a clearer picture will emerge on what Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada’s (IRCC) immigration plans for the future are.
Parents and Grandparents Program (PGP)
Millions of families around the world are eagerly looking forward to seeing their families again. For parents and grandparents who have been unable to visit due to the pandemic.
Canada as always is committed to keeping families together. IRCC confirmed on January 5 2021 that they have started sending out ITAs to applicants who submitted an interest to sponsor form in the fall of 2020 under the Parents and Grandparents Program. They will be sending out invitations to a maximum of 10,000 eligible applicants. Anyone who receives an ITA will need to submit their documents and application form within 60 days to IRCC.
For 2021, under the PGP IRCC is planning on accepting a maximum of 30,000 new applications for the interest to sponsor forms intake process. Dates will be made available on IRCC’s website.
If PGP is not an option or individuals don’t qualify, parents and grandparents can also apply for the Super Visa and if approved stay in Canada for two years at a time.
2021 definitely began with a lot of hope and promise that the end is in sight for COVID and if the first PNP draw of the year, held in B.C. on January 5 2021 is any indication, Canada intends to fulfill its immigration targets this year.
Now is an excellent time to speak to an RCIC to verify eligibility for any one of the many immigration programs available or simply to plan a visit to Canada.