The Canadian government plans to invite over 401,000 new immigrants every year from 2021-2023 under the new Canadian Immigration Levels Plan. This might seem like an unachievable target, however, the government is confident that this can be accomplished.
Recently, on February 13, 2021, the government body of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) conducted the largest ever Express Entry draw by inviting a total of 27,332 applicants to the Canadian Experience Class (CEC) for permanent residence.
Canada tried to maintain its immigration levels throughout 2020. In the months leading up to the pandemic, Canada was inviting an average of 3,500 applicants every Express Entry draw (draws usually occur bi-weekly) with an average Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) score of 470. Even after the pandemic broke out, the IRCC broke the Express Entry record by inviting up to 5,000 applicants in at least 4 draws till Christmas.
This was topped by the February 13th draw. The most unusual part of the draw was that the CRS requirement was the lowest ever in history with only 75 points. Applicants who received an Invitation to Apply (ITA) only have 90 days to apply for permanent residency at the IRCC.
Once you receive the invitation, you must gather all the required documents to submit your permanent residency application. Those who were already present in Canada were required to do a “flagpole” to activate their permanent residency. The flagpole includes physically crossing the US border and doing a U-turn to re-enter Canada. However, all this has become extremely difficult because of the travel restrictions and social distancing during the pandemic.
Why Are Applicants of the Canadian Experience Class (CEC) Being Targeted?
Plenty of statistics by the IRCC and Statistics Canada shows that applicants of the CEC can integrate into the Canadian labor market quickly. This is because the CEC requires applicants to have previous work experience in Canada. Fast integration is of great importance given the economic challenges faced by Canada because of the pandemic.
The largest-ever Express Entry draw conducted on February 13 demonstrates that Canada is sure that it can achieve its immigration targets by focusing on foreign nationals that are already living in Canada with work experience in the country.
Why Is the New Immigration Target Achievable?
The Canadian Immigration Levels Plan for 2021-23 is achievable as it aims to prioritize economic immigration by inviting 60% of immigrants from economic programs, 25% from family immigration, and the remaining 15% through the refugee and humanitarian class.
The economic immigration target can be met by encouraging the transition of foreign nationals already present in the country. It can also be met by inviting skilled workers exempt from the travel restrictions.
Family class immigrants are exempt from the travel restrictions and are currently waiting for the IRCC to process their applications. Half of the refugee intake every year is already present in Canada as asylum seekers. However, this may mean that difficulties may arise for the rest of the refugees struggling to enter Canada amid the pandemic.
The IRCC can opt to adjust its target by completing the refugee quota by inviting more economic and family class immigrants.
How Will Canada Achieve the New Immigration Targets?
Canada is planning to invite 108,500 immigrants through the Express Entry system in 2021. Up until now, it has issued 37,986 invitations compared to 10,300 ITAs last year.
This indicates that if the IRCC can maintain this level in the next 2 months, they should be able to achieve their target by the end of 2021 since Express Entry applicants must file their permanent residency application within 90 days which takes around 6 months to process.
The IRCC will also be required to pursue additional measures to achieve the immigration target. The immigration plan sets a target to invite at least 80,800 applicants through Provincial Nominee Programs (PNP) and around 15,500 through other federal programs like the Atlantic Immigration Pilot Program (AIPP). Quebec will welcome around 30,000 new immigrants through its economic immigration programs.
The IRCC can allow provinces to invite the maximum number of applicants through their Express Entry aligned provincial streams. British Columbia and Ontario have been conducting slightly larger than normal PNP draws lately.
Most economic immigration programs have a processing time of 6 months, except the AIPP. Most provincial and Quebec streams have a processing time of up to 2 years. The IRCC will be required to expedite its processing times for non-Express Entry programs to have a realistic chance at achieving its target.