January 8, 2022BY Admin

An assessment of Canadian Immigration of 2021

An assessment of Canadian Immigration of 2021

ANALYSIS: In 2021, the coronavirus outbreak continued to have an impact on Canada’s immigration system.

The coronavirus pandemic struck Canada’s immigration system in 2020, and while matters have now stabilized, the pandemic forced IRCC to make significant changes in 2021.

In 2021, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) faced a number of challenges. Despite all of this, the federal government mandated IRCC with landing 401,000 new permanent residents this year. Immigration application long delays were increasing, many new arrivals such as Confirmation of Permanent Residence (COPR) applicants needed to wait in limbo overseas, COVID case levels are too high at home and around the world, vaccination rates remained low, travel restrictions and Canada’s public health measures poses great difficulties for newcomers looking to enter the country, and despite all of this, the federal government mandated IR.

Early in the year, the IRCC decided that the best approach to achieve this aim was to convert as many temporary residents in Canada to permanent residents as possible. In retrospect, the warning indications of this shift in policy at the start of the year were evident, but in the lack of official IRCC policy announcements, stakeholders were left speculating. While IRCC sent Express Entry invites to all candidates until the end of 2020, it began 2021 by focusing on Canadian Experience Class (CEC) applicants, as 90% of them live in Canada.

On February 13, 2021, the IRCC’s strategy for meeting its 401,000 newcomer target became increasingly clearer. On that Saturday, IRCC held the most extraordinary draw since the beginning of Express Entry in 2015. It felt obligated to issue a statement explaining the decision, inviting all 27,332 Express Entry applicants in the pool to apply for permanent residence. The IRCC also stated that once the COVID situation eased, it hoped to welcome more persons from outside.

In May, IRCC went even further to assure that it would meet its 401,000 newcomer goal by launching six temporary streams that would allow up to 90,000 critical workers and overseas students in Canada to apply for permanent residence.

By June, IRCC had increased its processing capability and was releasing 35,000 permanent residents every month (mainly from within Canada), surpassing 45,000 monthly landings in recent months.

The agency triumphantly announced last week that it had set a new record for permanent resident landings in a calendar year in Canada. While the approach of focusing on in-Canada landings has helped IRCC meet its targets and hundreds of thousands of people achieve their objective of becoming permanent residents, it has come at a cost.

The IRCC’s backlog has increased to 1.8 million requests, owing in part to the agency’s approach of prioritizing applicants from within Canada. IRCC is taking longer than normal to process the documentation of many COPR holders and candidates for permanent residence, study, employment, and visitor visas. Candidates for the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP), which made up the majority of Express Entry immigrants prior to the pandemic, are still waiting for their names to be picked from the pool. Furthermore, the in-Canada approach has slowed Canada’s population and labor force growth, contributing to some of the highest levels of job vacancies in the country’s history.

Many factors beyond IRCC’s control continue to limit its effectiveness, including COVID case numbers and government lockdown procedures in Canada and overseas, as well as the Canadian government’s travel rules. For example, the Canadian government’s decision earlier this year to block flight arrivals from India, Canada’s biggest source country of newcomers (a ban that has since been removed), provided a significant challenge for IRCC.

IRCC has fought to keep the immigration process running despite significant obstacles. It announced a policy in January permitting holders of a Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) to apply for a one-time renewal to get an open work permit. The goal was to offer people already in Canada additional time to gain the necessary job experience to be allowed to apply for permanent residence. In the fall, for example, it encouraged 30,000 sponsors to apply for the Parents and Grandparents Program.

Of course, the elected government of the day shapes such policies. The Liberal Party of Canada was re-elected to a third straight mandate in September. They have supervised huge increases in Canada’s immigration levels since taking office in 2015, from over 260,000 new permanent residents at the time to over 400,000 currently.

Post-election, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau named Sean Fraser, a Nova Scotia lawyer, as the new Minister of Immigration.

Trudeau sent Fraser a fresh immigration mandate letter earlier this month. Continuing to oversee increased immigration levels, improving application processing times, reintegrating 40,000 Afghan refugees, and reuniting families together more rapidly are among Fraser’s marching orders.

This year is coming to a close in the same way it began. COVID levels are rising in Canada and around the world, causing more worry. Nonetheless, the Canadian government sees immigration as a critical component of the country’s economic and social rehabilitation.

Despite the fact that the pandemic will proceed to pose challenges for IRCC and newcomers alike, the pandemic has had no effect on Canada’s overarching immigration policy goals, which means that the entry of permanent residents, temporary workers, overseas students, and tourists should eventually return to normal, and will likely increase pre-pandemic levels once the worst of the crisis has passed.

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