2021 is expected to be a good year for immigrants considering permanent residence in Canada.
On February 24, 2021, Bloomberg interviewed Minister Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). In unambiguous terms, Minister Mendicino declared that Canada is on track to meet its ambitious immigration targets for 2021.
Current immigration targets were introduced on October 30, 2020, by the Trudeau government, in the Immigration Levels Plan for 2021-2023. IRCC intends to admit 1,233,000 new permanent residents over the next three years. The targets for 2021 are 401,0000 new admittances.
The aim is to sustain economic growth with robust immigration levels that promote post-pandemic recovery and offset long-standing economic and fiscal shortfalls caused by an increasingly aging population and low birth rates.
One of the negative impacts of COVID-19 lockdowns and travel restrictions is that shortfalls in high-skilled labour supply developed in significant industries. These skills-gaps were previously filled mostly by foreign workers, but who were barred in 2020 from entry to Canada due to global travel restrictions. The ongoing skills demands are primarily in the labour markets for transportation, health services, and construction trades, though there are regional variances throughout Canada.
In the short-term, much of these shortfalls can be resolved by increasing permanent resident targets focusing on skilled professionals. In the long-term the policy to increase immigration is wagering that Canada’s economy will recover to its full strength after COVID-19, requiring a growing labour force.
The good news, according to Minister Mendicino, is that IRCC is almost 40% ahead of the projected intake required by February to meet its 2021 targets.
Recent activity by IRCC undoubtedly supports this claim. In January, they admitted 26,600 new permanent residents. On February 13, 2021, they issued 27,332 Invitations to Apply (ITAs) for permanent residence to candidates whose profiles were in the Express Entry selection pool, IRCC’s application processing platform.
Candidates invited on February 13, 2021 were eligible exclusively under the Canadian Experience Class program, as IRCC prioritizes permanent resident approvals to candidates who are already in the country. This is due to ongoing COVID-19 travel restrictions still in place.
While Canada’s borders continue to remain closed to non-essential travel, travel restrictions are expected to be lifted throughout 2021. Immigrants issued permanent resident visas are already exempted.
IRCC is therefore projected to make many similar high-volume ITA issuances throughout the next three years for all permanent resident programs, principally the Federal Skilled Worker Program, Federal Skilled Trades Program, and Canadian Experience Class again. Candidates with their profiles in the Express Entry selection pool will have a higher than usual probability of receiving an ITA during that period.
As Senior Immigration Consultant, Kieran Verboven leads the Cambridge LLP Immigration Practice Group. He is a member in good standing with the ICCRC, holds a Bachelor of Arts from McGill University and has extensive experience representing Canadian immigration and refugee clients since 2007.
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