Canada sets record immigration targets

Canada has set new, record-breaking targets in a bid to attract more than a million immigrants between now and the end of 2024.

An arrow in a target
The Ottawa government’s 'Immigration Levels Plan' sets a target of 431,645 permanent residents this year; 447,055 in 2023; and 451,000 in 2024 - the highest targets ever set for Canadian immigration.And these targets come on the heels of a record-breaking year in 2021 when 405,000 immigrants settled in the country.
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International students 'a priority'

“Immigration already accounts for almost 100 per cent of labour force growth, and with five million Canadians set to retire by the end of this decade, the worker to retiree ratio will drop down to only 3:1. This is a clear sign that we have a strong economic need for increased immigration,” said the government in a statement.According to the ICEF Monitor (the Bonn-based International Consultants for Education and Fairs) international students are a top priority in the new targets, with the immigration streams that accommodate their applications expected to contribute more than half of new, permanent residents."Canada is seeing a surge of international student applications for higher education after a period of enrolment declines in the pandemic," said ICEF.Categories for international students have been increased along with caps in the Federal High Skilled visa category, which aims to offer overseas permanent residency after graduation.

Two goals

The government has stressed that its new immigration targets have two priorities: to attract the most skilled workers and students; and to assist refugees in making new, safer homes in Canada.Immigration Minister Sean Fraser explained: “This 'levels plan' is a balance of needs for our country and our international obligations."It focuses on attracting skilled workers who will contribute to Canada’s economy and tackle the labour shortage, while recognising the importance of family reunification, and helping the world’s most vulnerable populations through refugee resettlement."Our focus remains on supporting our economic resurgence through increased retention of newcomers in regions with real economic, labour and demographic challenges.”

Streamlined application process

The Canadians have been taking steps recently to streamline their processing system for immigrants, which almost ground to a halt at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic with a majority of IRCC (Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship) staff not working, according to Montreal immigration law firm Canadim."IRCC was also unable to finalise many permanent residence applications due to the travel restrictions in place. These effects of the pandemic resulted in a massive application backlog. As of October 2021, IRCC had a backlog of about 1.8 million applications,” reported Canadim.“Despite the challenges posed by the pandemic, it also paved the way for a more efficient immigration system. In the last quarter, IRCC has admitted more newcomers per month than ever seen in Canadian history.”The government has now embarked on a series of modernisation initiatives, including online application systems and advanced data analytics, and has pledged to “further increase processing capacity and plan to make 147,000 permanent residence final decisions in the first quarter of 2022 – doubling what was done in the same period last year".

Read more news and views from David Sapsted.

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