Canada Releases 2021-2023 Immigration levels plan

Last week the Government of Canada released its 2021 – 2023 immigration levels plan. This is an important document that the government releases that describe its immigration targets for the next three years, both in terms of overall immigration numbers, and how many immigrants will be accepted through each of Canada’s immigration programs.

The new levels plan reconfirms Canada’s commitment to encouraging immigration. Canada’s previous levels plan indicated immigration levels increasing slightly each year, and in general remaining in the low 300 thousands per year. The recently announced levels plan anticipates total immigration levels over 400 thousand for each of 2021, 2022 and 2023. The government expects that approximately half those immigrating to Canada will do so under an economic program (including Express Entry and the Provincial Nominee Programs) the remainder will arrive as refugees, or as members of the family class.

There are several explanations for the increase in comparison to the previous levels plan. One factor is that the current government of Canada is supportive of immigration, viewing it as beneficial to Canada’s economy and society. Unlike some other countries the Canadian public also has a generally positive view of immigration and is therefore more likely to be accepting of higher immigration levels. Finally the new levels plan likely includes a certain amount of ‘catch-up’ from the unusual year that 2020 has been.

Although Canada has continued to invite, and to process immigration applications throughout the COVID-19 pandemic the numerous travel restrictions in place in Canada and around the world have meant that many applicants who have been approved to come to Canada have been unable to do so. As a result, although Canada has been inviting and accepting a record-high number of potential immigrants in 2020, actual arrivals have been dramatically less than in 2019. It is reasonable to expect that as the effects of the pandemic on global travel are lessened immigrants previously approved will arrive in greater numbers.

Ultimately the new levels plan serves to confirm two things about Canadian immigration: Canada remains committed to welcoming large and increasing numbers of immigrants in the years to come, and Canada’s economic immigration pathways will continue to be a substantial contributor of Canada’s overall immigration totals.

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