Canada is still on pace to welcome 401,000 new immigrants in 2021

IRCC’s March data shows Canada has landed over 70,000 new immigrants in the first quarter of this year.

Canada landed 22,425 new permanent residents in March 2021.

Data released by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) earlier this week shows the country welcomed over 70,000 new immigrants in the first quarter of this year. This Q1 2021 figure is well above the 30,000-40,000 newcomers Canada had been landing per quarter since the start of the pandemic.

IRCC is guided by the most ambitious immigration plan in the country’s history. In late October 2020, the department’s minister, Marco Mendicino, announced the 2021-2023 Immigration Levels Plan.

Canada aims to welcome 401,000 new immigrants in 2021 which would tie the record set in 1913. It looks to welcome even more newcomers over the next two years.

By way of comparison, Canada welcomed just 184,000 immigrants last year, due to coronavirus disruptions, which was well short of the 341,000 newcomers it welcomed in 2019.

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The rationale of the current levels plan is to welcome high levels of immigration to support Canada’s post-pandemic economic recovery.

In light of its COVID-19 travel restrictions, Canada is prioritizing transitioning temporary residents to permanent residence during the pandemic.

The main way IRCC is doing this is by holding Express Entry draws that target individuals currently in Canada. Express Entry is the primary way Canada welcomes economic class immigrants. The economic class accounts for nearly 60 per cent of the new immigrants Canada admits each year.

Express Entry draws have targeted Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) and Canadian Experience Class (CEC) candidates. The CEC has comprised the overwhelming majority of successful Express Entry candidates in 2021.

On February 13, IRCC invited 27,332 CEC candidates to apply for permanent residence, which was almost six times larger than the previous Express Entry draw record.

In addition, IRCC launched six new permanent residence streams last week that aim to transition some 90,000 essential workers and international graduates to permanent residence. The English-speaking international graduate stream reached its quota of 40,000 applicants in just over 24 hours.

The record-level Express Entry draws and these six new streams will provide IRCC with a significant tailwind by the third and fourth quarters of 2021 that will support its 401,000 target.

Many of those within Canada invited under Express Entry last year and the first half of this year will get their permanent resident status by the end of this year. In addition, IRCC has recently stated it aims to land at least 40,000 essential workers and graduates by year’s end.

Moreover, there is a significant seasonal component to Canadian immigration. Permanent residence landings tend to increase over the warmer spring and summer months. Despite travel restrictions, there remains the possibility that those allowed to immigrate to Canada will do so over the coming months when the weather is more favourable.

IRCC’s fast start to this year in combination with the aforementioned tailwinds put Canada in position to achieve its 401,000 target this year.

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