January was a record month for Canada immigration since the start of the COVID-19 crisis, with 24,665 new permanent resident admissions, according to new federal government statistics.
The figure is 2,000 short of the one given by Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino in a February Bloomberg interview but is still the newest immigrants welcomed since February 2020. Canada first imposed coronavirus travel restrictions in March 2020, causing immigration numbers to plummet.
The January figure is more than double the 10,795 newcomers welcomed in December 2020, and effectively equal to the 24,695 new permanent residents recorded in January 2020, before travel restrictions had been put in place.
In the same Bloomberg interview, Mendicino said the number of newcomers admitted up to the middle of February was 40 percent ahead of where Canada needs to be to hit its 2021 target of 401,000 new permanent residents.
He told Bloomberg that Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) had ‘sprinted out of the gates’ with its permanent resident admissions at the start of 2021.
The figures are the latest indication that Canada is serious about meeting its ambitious targets of welcoming more than 400,000 newcomers in each of the next three years.
It follows an unprecedented Express Entry draw earlier in February that saw 27,000 invitations issued to Canadian Experience Class candidates, dwarfing the previous single draw record of 5,000 ITAs. The draw saw the minimum Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) score drop to 75, also an unprecedented record low.
Canada’s strategy is to invite candidates already in the country on a temporary basis, accounting for 90 percent of those invited in the recent record draw.
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Strict COVID-19 restrictions on non-essential international travel imposed by Ottawa since March 2020 dramatically cut the number of newcomers by almost half in 2020, to 184,370 from 341,175 in 2019.
Despite the restrictions still being in place, Canada has once again displayed its ability to pivot its immigration policies to attract newcomers to help foster the economic recovery as the coronavirus crisis abates.
Canada has enhanced screening measures and pre-arrival testing for anyone entering the country’s land or air borders and a 14-day quarantine for non-essential travellers.
As of Monday, February 22, all travellers coming to Canada by air for non-essential reasons need to stay in government-designated hotels for three days at their own costs after getting a COVID-19 test.
Ottawa recently extended its restrictions on non-U.S. international travel to Canada until April 21, and its restrictions on those from the United States until March 21.
Canada currently has exemptions in place for the following people, provided they are travelling for a non-discretionary reason.
- Seasonal agricultural workers, fish/seafood workers, caregivers and all other temporary foreign workers.
- International students who held a valid study permit, or had been approved for a study permit, when the travel restrictions took effect on March 18, 2020. More international students will be allowed to travel from October 20 under a new exemption.
- Permanent resident applicants who had been approved for permanent residence before the travel restrictions were announced on March 18, 2020, but who had not yet travelled to Canada.
- Immediate family members of Canadian citizens and permanent residents are also exempt if entering to be with an immediate family member for at least 15 days.
- Extended family members of citizens and permanent residents, plus foreign nationals travelling on compassionate grounds.
Canada has been plagued by COVID-19 vaccine delivery issues but the country’s prime minister has reassured Canadians that anyone wanting to be vaccinated will be able to do so by the end of September.