Review of Canadian immigration in 2021

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Posted December 29, 2021 8:00 AM EST



The onset of the coronavirus pandemic changed the course of Canada’s immigration system in 2020 and although things stabilized, the pandemic prompted IRCC to make major adjustments in 2021.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) entered 2021 under difficult circumstances. Immigration backlogs were increasing, many newcomers such as Confirmation of Permanent Residence (COPR) holders were waiting in limbo abroad, COVID case levels were high at home and around the world, immunization rates remained low, Canada’s travel restrictions and public health measures were making it difficult for newcomers seeking to enter the country, and despite all of this, the federal government mandated IRCC to host 401 000 new permanent residents this year.

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IRCC decided earlier this year that the best way to achieve this goal was to move the greatest number of temporary residents living in Canada to permanent residence. The warning signs of this policy shift at the start of the year were evident in hindsight, but still left stakeholders in limbo in the absence of official policy statements from IRCC. While IRCC issued Express Entry invitations to all applicants to close 2020, it began 2021 by focusing invitations on Canadian Experience Class (CEC) applicants, as 90% of them live in Canada. .

IRCC’s strategy for how it sought to meet its goal of 401,000 newcomers became even more apparent on February 13, 2021. That Saturday, IRCC hosted the most outstanding draw since the launch of Express Entry in 2015. He invited all 27,332 Express Entry candidates to the pool to apply for permanent residence and felt compelled to issue a statement explaining the decision. The statement also noted that IRCC looked forward to welcoming more people from overseas when the COVID situation improved.

In May, IRCC went even further to ensure it could meet its goal of 401,000 newcomers when it launched six temporary streams allowing 90,000 essential workers and international graduates in Canada to apply for permanent residence.

By June, IRCC had increased its processing capacity and was disembarking 35,000 permanent residents per month (mostly from Canada) and in recent months it has exceeded 45,000 monthly arrivals.

Last week, the department proudly announced that it had broken Canada’s record for permanent resident arrivals in a calendar year. While the strategy to focus on arrivals in Canada has enabled IRCC to meet its goal of levels and also enabled hundreds of thousands of people to reach their goal of becoming permanent residents, it has also had a cost.

IRCC’s backlog has grown to 1.8 million applications, which it admits is partly due to the strategy to prioritize applicants in Canada. Many COPR holders and applicants for permanent residence, study, work and visitor visas wait longer than usual for IRCC to process their papers. Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP) applicants, who were the main group of Express Entry immigrants before the pandemic, continue to wait patiently for their names to be pulled from the pool. In addition, the strategy in Canada has slowed the growth of Canada’s population and workforce, which has contributed to some of the highest job vacancy levels in Canadian history.

IRCC remains limited by many circumstances beyond its control, such as the number of COVID cases and government lockdowns in Canada and abroad, as well as Canadian government travel policies. For example, the Canadian government’s decision earlier this year to ban arrivals of flights from India (a ban that has since been lifted), by far the main source of new arrivals to Canada, has been a major source of new arrivals to Canada. major hurdle for IRCC.

Despite the ongoing challenges, IRCC has strived to keep the immigration system functioning. In January, for example, he announced a policy allowing post-graduation work permit (PTPD) holders to apply for a one-time extension to obtain an open work permit. The goal was to give people residing in Canada more time to gain the work experience they need to be eligible to apply for permanent residence. In the fall, as another example, he invited 30,000 godparents to apply for the Parents and Grandparents Program.

These policies are, of course, shaped by the elected government of the day. In September, the Liberal Party of Canada was re-elected for a third consecutive term. Since taking office in 2015, they have overseen significant increases in immigration levels to Canada, from some 260,000 new permanent residents to over 400,000 today.

Following the election, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau appointed Sean Fraser, a lawyer from Nova Scotia, as the new Minister of Immigration.

Earlier this month, Trudeau gave Fraser a new immigration mandate letter. Fraser’s marching orders include continued monitoring of higher immigration levels, improved processing times, the resettlement of 40,000 Afghan refugees, and faster family reunification.

This year ends the same way it started. COVID levels are rising in Canada and around the world, leading to increased uncertainty. Nonetheless, the Canadian government continues to view immigration as an important means of supporting Canada’s economic and social recovery.

While the pandemic will continue to pose challenges for IRCC and newcomers, the overall objectives of Canada’s immigration policy are not affected by the pandemic, which means that the arrival of permanent residents, temporary foreign workers , international students and visitors are expected to eventually return to normal and will likely exceed pre-pandemic levels once the worst of the crisis is behind us.

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