2021 Year In Review: Looking at Canada’s Immigration Policy

Last Updated on February 23, 2023

Over the past year, Canada has made great efforts in continuing to grow its immigrant population. In August alone, 37,780 new permeant residents were reported to have arrived in Canada. Immigration has proven to be one of Canada’s most valuable solutions to countering the effects of an aging population and diminishing workforce.

Even while the world has been forced to contend with the COVID-19 pandemic and increased travel restrictions, Canada’s government has continued to expand on policies that welcome immigrants into the country and ensure that more individuals can live and work where they want.

Through the digitization of many aspects of the immigration process and the creation of pro-immigrant government policies, Canada is on-track to meet its goal of accepting 401,000 immigrants by the end of 2021. Immigrant-friendly policies in Canada provide employers with expanded access to a steady supply of high-skilled talent which has transformed the demographic makeup of Canadian cities, making the country an attractive location for companies worldwide.

Political Leadership in Canada – Pro-Immigrant Attitudes

Currently, around one-fifth of Canada’s population is comprised of foreign-born people, and immigrants account for around one-quarter of Canada’s present labor force. Since the early 2000s, Canadian leadership has steadily increased the number of immigrants accepted each year, and the Canadian government has made great efforts in ensuring that it embraces a policy of multiculturalism and openness towards immigrants.

Under the current Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, and the Liberal Party, immigration has increased while the country grapples with an aging population and decline in birthrates. These trends towards higher immigration acceptance are likely to continue, especially after the re-election of Prime Minister Trudeau in September 2021.

Digitization of Immigration Pathways in Canada

Since 2015, the Canadian government has utilized an online application system to manage Canadian permanent resident applications. This system, known as Express Entry (EE), is designated to facilitate the express immigration of skilled migrant workers in Canada and is a point-based system. The system regulates four categories of immigration: the Federal Skilled Worker Program, the Federal Trades Program, Canadian Experience Class and Provincial Nominee Program. All four categories are critical to the success of the entire Canadian immigration system.

The IRCC has introduced enhancements and made new plans to other aspect of the country’s immigration system. In October 2020, IRCC released the Government of Canada’s Immigration Levels Plan for 2021-2023. They introduced the Levels Plan as a means of providing a path for the responsible increase of immigration targets to aid the Canadian economy in its recovery from COVID-19 and to counteract an aging workforce population and low birth rates.

The primary goal of the plan is to increase the number of immigrants accepted into Canada each year. The 2021 target goal is to welcome 401,000 new permanent residents. In 2022, the goal is 411,000 and in 2023, 421,000. IRCC organized the Immigration Levels Plan by immigration category or class in an effort to reach its targets. This year, IRCC set the goal of admitting 108,500 economic immigrants grouped into categories such as federal high skilled immigrants, federal business immigrants and immigrants through the Provincial Nominee Program or the Atlantic Immigration Pilot Program.

The Global Talent Steam has been one of the many solutions that Canada has created as a measure for attracting more immigrants. Part of Canada’s Temporary Foreign Worker Program, this stream was designed to help Canadian employers hire skilled foreign workers for specific jobs when Canadian citizens cannot be found. Canada has also placed particular value on attracting young, highly educated, skilled professionals in order to remedy the effects of an aging population.

Both the Provincial Nominee Program and Atlantic Immigration Pilot Program offer skilled foreign workers pathways to permanent residency in Canada and have played a significant role in increasing the foreign population in Canada over the last year.

IRCC has prioritized the development of technology and the digitization of immigration processes over 2021. For instance, IRCC implemented advanced data analytics to sort and process temporary resident visa applications from countries with a high volume of applicants. Through this system, patterns are recognized to help accelerate the work of IRCC employees and allow for better and more informed decisions to be made throughout the immigration process.

This system also ensures that applicant’s personal information is better protected by only using relevant and needed information for the application. Privacy impact assessments are also conducted to ensure that personal data is protected.

Influence of COVID-19 on Immigration

Last year was a difficult time in immigration for Canada and the globe, as border restrictions and pandemic precautions led many countries, including Canada, to accept fewer immigrants than normal. Despite the terrible effects of the pandemic, this downfall has served to highlight the significance of immigrants and their contributions across all sectors of the economy.

This year in Canada, immigrants have made contributions in supporting the Canadian economy, aided in the development of infrastructure and transformed the overall demographic of the country. Immigrants have found jobs in the Canadian health-care system, Canadian technology companies, farms and more. As entry restrictions ease and world borders begin to reopen, this trend is expected to continue with even more immigrants contributing to the Canadian workforce.

Since March 2020, Canada’s borders remained closed to international travelers, with very few exceptions. However, with the rollout of new vaccines and high vaccination rates around parts of the globe, Canada has begun slowly reopening its borders to some international travelers. In September of 2021, Canada announced the reopening of its borders to international travelers from several countries worldwide. Canada has continued to loosen border restriction, quarantine requirements and testing requirements for travelers, especially to those who are fully vaccinated.

The reopening of its borders will allow the country to continue to attract and welcome more migrants in the coming months and year.

Refugees and Humanitarian Immigrants

Over the past year, Canada has made humanitarian efforts that have also increased immigration to the country. Under the 2021-2023 Plan, Canada set the goal of admitting around 57,500 immigrants in 2022 that are considered refugees, protected persons under humanitarian and compassionate grounds.

The Economic Mobility Pathway Pilot has also served to welcome refugees with specialized talents and skills into the country, while improving the narrative of refugees and their contributions.

Future of Immigration in Canada

A year into the Immigration’s Level Plan, Canada’s immigrant population has substantially grown, and it will continue to grow over the next two years. During this time, the government has already announced plans to further improve current immigration streams and systems as well as introducing new programs and pathways for immigrants.

Ultimately, this past year has demonstrated the significant role that immigrants play within Canada, helping to improve the economy, bring innovative ideas, new skills and diversify Canada as a whole.

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Envoy is pleased to provide you this information, which was prepared in collaboration with Jim Yang, who is the Immigration Manager, Canada, at Envoy Global.

Content in this publication is for informational purposes only and not intended as legal advice, nor should it be relied on as such. For additional information on the issues discussed, consult an attorney at one of the two U.S. Law Firms working with the Envoy Platform or another qualified professional. On non-U.S. immigration issues, consult an Envoy global immigration service provider or another qualified representative.