Canada saw 22,425 new permanent resident arrivals in March, the third-highest monthly immigration total since COVID-19 travel restrictions were imposed.
The latest federal government figures show Canada welcomed 70,500 newcomers in the first three months of the year, compared to just over 69,000 in 2020 – a solid start on its way to an ambitious target of 401,000.
January to March was easily the most prolific quarter for Canada immigration since the start of the coronavirus crisis.
However, the numbers are still well short of those needed for Canada to its target. If 70,500 newcomers are welcomed every quarter this year, the total would reach only 282,000 permanent resident admissions.
Ottawa is clearly expecting a major increase in the remaining three quarters, boosted by the new pathway the permanent residence launched last week, through which it expects to receive 90,000 applications from international graduates, healthcare workers and other essential workers.
Meanwhile, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has also significantly increased the numbers of Invitations to Apply being issued through Express Entry, including 27,332 in a single Canadian Experience Class draw on February 13.
These candidates, 90 percent of them already in Canada, are likely to make the transition to permanent residency in the second half of the year.
Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino remains confident Canada will hit the 401,000 target, set in the fall 2020 immigration levels plan.
“I am confident that we are doing everything we can to meet that target and we will meet that target and the reason it is important to hit that target is because immigrants create jobs … and allow us to meet our workforce needs,” he said during a virtual press conference on Monday.
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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 last year, 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.
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 international travel to Canada and the Canada-U.S. border until May 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’s vaccine campaign is now fully underway, with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau reassuring Canadians that anyone wanting to be vaccinated will have their injections by the end of the summer.