Canada immigration applications to fell in the first quarter of this year compared to the same period last year, possibly indicating a future drop in newcomers to the country.
The latest data from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) reveals immigration applications dropped 12 per cent, to only 73,358 in the first quarter of this year, compared to 83,691 for the same three-month period in 2022.
Even more dramatic is the 39.3 per cent drop in the monthly average number of applications in the last quarter of last year, 40,312, compared to the only 24,453 in the first three months of this year.
Fuelling the overall drop in applications are significant reductions in the number of applications from foreign nationals from some countries that are important sources of new permanent residents to Canada.
In the first quarter of this year, the number of applications from the Philippines plummeted by 28 per cent, to only 5,040, compared to 6,988 for the comparable period last year.
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Immigration applications from China also dropped by 11 per cent during those time periods, from 4,641 to 4,150, and applications from Iran were down a whopping 40 per cent, to 1,398 from 2,328.
Applications from Columbia fell 37 per cent, to 716 in the first three months of this year from 1,139 in the first quarter last year, those from Nigeria decreased by 46 per cent to 2,571 from 4,722, and applications from Somalia were down by 83 per cent, to only 210 from 1,268.
Those six countries alone accounted for 7,001 fewer applications in the first quarter of this year compared to the same period in 2022, or 67.7 per cent of the decrease in applications.
A drop in immigration applications can be a leading indicator of a future drop in immigration to Canada.
And the pace of immigration to Canada did ease off for the second consecutive month in March from the record high set in January.
Immigration to Canada started off strong this year right out of the gate with 50,905 new permanent residents in January, a monthly level of immigration unseen since at least 2015.
Monthly Rate Of Immigration To Canada Slowed For Second Consecutive Month In March
Since then, the monthly influx of new permanent residents has fallen steadily. In February, Canada welcomed 2.5 per cent fewer new permanent residents, 49,645, than in January. Then, in March, the rate of immigration dropped even further, to 44,780 new permanent residents, a slip of 9.8 per cent.
But Canada is still poised to welcome vastly more new permanent residents than the IRCC’s target.
In the first three months of this year, Canada welcomed 145,330 new permanent residents, putting the country on track to set a new record of 581,320 immigrants this year if that trend continues throughout the rest of 2023.
In its 2023-2025 Immigration Levels Plan, Ottawa has planned for 465,000 new permanent residents for this year, 485,000 new permanent residents in 2024 and another 500,000 in 2025.
The projected rate of immigration this year would be 25 per cent more than the IRCC’s target for this year and even 16.2 per cent above the highest level of immigration set out in the current Immigration Levels Plan, the target for 2025.
By the end of March this year, Canada had welcomed 27.7 per cent more new permanent residents than in the comparable three months last year when 113,800 newcomers came here.