June sees a shift in immigration as over 35,000 new immigrants completed their landing in Canada, for the first time since the start of the pandemic
With the start of the pandemic, everything around the world was paused, including immigration.
For the first time since March 2020, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) was able to complete the landings of over 35,000 newcomers in June 2021 and welcome them into Canada.
With less than five months left in 2021, Minister Marco Mendicino remains committed to ensuring Canada meets its goal of welcoming 401,000 newcomers into the country this year.
This number is higher than the initial target for 2021 which was 341,000, in an attempt to balance the steep decline in immigration numbers of 2020.
While it is an ambitious target, it is not an impossible one. In 1913, when immigration in Canada plummeted as a result of World War I, the federal government welcomed over 400,000 new immigrants into the country. A record number for that time and one that has yet to be beaten in over 100 years.
Even though there is precedent, there are valid concerns about whether Canada can do it again. Especially since IRCC has only welcomed 143,000 new permanent residents from January 2021 to June 2021.
If the federal government is serious about reaching its goal (which they are!) they’ll need to complete an average of 43,000 new landings from July 2021 to December 2021, so a total of 258,000 landings.
Before the pandemic, an average of 25,000 to 35,000 newcomers would arrive in Canada on a monthly basis, therefore the 43,000 landings is quite a challenge.
However, this has been a very unpredictable year when it comes to immigration and pre-pandemic comparisons may not be relevant.
The federal government has issued thousands of invitations to eligible candidates, held large scale draws with historically low scores, immigration requirements have been eased; all in an effort to increase the number of immigrants flowing into the country.
So there is no reason to doubt that things will pick up speed in the last two quarters of the year. There are also a few factors that will help move things along.
For one, approximately 23,000 applicants who currently hold a Confirmation of Permanent Residence (COPR) can now move to Canada since some restrictions were lifted on June 21, 2021.
Six new streams for permanent residency have been established by IRCC a couple of months ago. These streams have been designed specifically to allow international student graduates and essential workers who are currently living and working in Canada, to remain in Canada.
IRCC plans to welcome 90,000 new immigrants through the six streams.
Finally, it is no secret that IRCC has been holding frequent rounds of invitations and issuing Invitations to Apply (ITA) to Express Entry candidates from the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) and Canadian Experience Class (CEC) programs.
Each draw is resulting in thousands of invitations being issued with very low Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) scores. So far, IRCC has issued almost 100,00 Express Entry invitations.
The targeting of PNP and CEC only has been done very deliberately as approximately 90% of CEC candidates are already living in Canada. Therefore, their landings can easily be completed before the end of the year.
Minister Mendicino’s office has also stated that IRCC processed 45,100 new permanent residency applications in the month of June. The highest amount of applications processed ever.
This is a good indication IRCC has enough staff and resources to process a similar number of applications in the coming months.
However, administrative issues are also trying up valuable resources as IRCC begins the laborious process of contacting thousands of applicants with expired COPRs in order to make arrangements for their landings. Each applicant has to be contacted individually to ensure they have the right documents and information in hand.
Should things stay as they are and continue on this path, we can be hopeful that Canada will meet its target. Unfortunately, the issue with COVID-19 has always been its wholly unpredictable and volatile nature. It’s difficult enough to predict what the situation will be a week from now, much less a month down the road. Especially if borders continue to stay closed.
For instance, flights from India have still not resumed which is having a significant impact on the immigration numbers since Canada receives an extremely large number of newcomers from India every year.
A new strain of the virus; the Lambda variant, first detected in Peru, could also lead to further restrictions and border closures and put a stop to landings in an effort to curb the spread.
One of the biggest positives is that almost 70% of the Canadian population has been fully vaccinated with both doses and over 80% have received at least one dose. With millions of new doses continuing to arrive, it is just a matter of time before most of the country is fully vaccinated.
With high vaccine rates, Canada will be well protected and will be able to lift most of the restrictions in place, including those related to immigration.
While the low number of landings from the first half of the year is concerning, we have no doubts that the second half will see record highs as all the effort of the past few months finally come to fruition.