Canada experienced a momentous year for immigration in 2021. Despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Canada welcomed more new permanent residents into the country than in any other year in Canadian history. 2022 should be an interesting year for immigration in Canada as the country continues to grapple with COVID-19 and the Omicron Variant.
During the initial stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, Canadian immigration numbers fell dramatically as travel restrictions and other challenges resulted from the unprecedented situation. Immigration in terms of the number of permanent residents admitted into Canada in 2020 was 184,500, a large drop from the 341,000 permanent residents that were admitted in 2019. The Canadian Government was determined to increase the number of admitted permanent residents in 2021 because of the lower number in 2020 and announced this intent in the Immigration Levels Plan that was unveiled in 2020.
In 2021, 401,000 new permanent residents were welcomed to Canada, representing a massive increase over the number of admitted new permanent residents from 2020, showing that Canada has adapted to some of the strain caused by the pandemic.
Going forward, Canada’s plan is to admit even more permanent residents year over year. The Immigration Levels Plan for 2021-2023 calls for 411,000 new permanent residents to be admitted in 2022, and 421,000 new permanent residents to be admitted in 2023. However, these figures may be altered when Canada unveils the next Immigration Levels Plan for 2022-2024, as the previous Immigration Levels Plan called for 351,000 immigrants in 2021, before being updated to the 401,000 figure that was reached. This shows that the numbers can change from plan to plan, and based on the extra uncertainty in these times, it would not be surprising to see the figure change when the next Immigration Levels Plan is revealed. The 2022-2024 Immigration Levels Plan should be unveiled in February, at which point we will be able to determine if Canada will continue to welcome record numbers of new immigrants into the country each year.
Earlier this year, the Canadian Government announced a temporary public policy that exempted some foreign nationals who are applying to come to Canada from the medical exam that is normally required when foreign nationals are immigrating to Canada. On June 30, 2021, Canada changed the medical examination policy by allowing some foreign nationals who were to enter Canada to be exempt from the examination until December 28, 2021. In-Canada permanent residence applicants were exempt from an additional immigration medical exam if they have applied or are applying for permanent residence, already reside in Canada, completed an immigration medical exam in the last five years and an Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada officer found the completed medical exam to be low risk or no risk to public safety.
Now, Canada has extended the exemption for permanent residence applicants who meet the requirements until March 31, 2022. Family members of applicants who meet the criteria for the exemption may also be eligible for an exemption under the policy if they meet the requirements as well. The exemption on medical tests should make immigration processing easier for the federal government, and with immigration already at all-time highs based on 2021, any extra efficiency will help process the extra applications.
Throughout 2020 and 2021, international travel rules for Canadians and foreign nationals who sought to enter Canada changed continuously, leaving many unaware of the entry requirements involved to enter the country.
In December, the 72-hour testing exemption for travelling to the United States from Canada and back was repealed, and the rules are set to change again on January 15. Starting on January 15, most foreign nationals travelling into Canada will need to be fully vaccinated on arrival in order to enter Canada. This includes many people who would have been able to enter prior to the change on account of the essential designation for their travel, such as students, some foreign workers and family members of Canadian citizens or permanent residents.
In the future, it is likely that the travel rules, including the testing requirements, will change again at some point. Currently, given the current challenges with the Omicron Variant, it is likely that we will see more restrictions on travel than a relaxation of the regulations, but later this year, it is possible that we will see some of the more stringent rules for travel into Canada be lifted if COVID-19 rates go down worldwide.
Express Entry is one of the main ways that immigrants who wish to become permanent residents come to Canada, as it allows immigrants to apply for permanent residence based on how they can contribute to the Canadian economy.
In 2021, the COVID situation in Canada caused changes to the Express Entry system. For example, applicants under the Canadian Experience Class and Provincial Nominee Program were accepted into Canada. However, applicants under the Federal Skilled Worker and Federal Skilled Trades Programs were not issued invitations under Express Entry in 2021. It is possible this trend will continue because many applicants under the Canadian Experience Class and the Provincial Nominee Program are already located within Canada, which makes it easier for Canada to issue invitations to them.
It is possible this trend will continue into 2022 depending on how the pandemic progresses. However, future applicants may want to try to apply for permanent residence under the Canadian Experience Class or the Provincial Nominee Program based on how Express Entry was handled in 2021.
Garson Immigration Law is a firm exclusively dedicated to the practice of immigration law. We successfully guide clients through the immigration process, with an eye toward the ever-changing regulations in light of COVID-19. We will work to find an effective solution for your individual immigration needs and ensure you are positioned for success with respect to your application.
The immigration lawyers at Garson Immigration Law are continuing to monitor the immigration fallout in Canada and the U.S. in relation to COVID-19 and will provide updates as the situation develops. If you have any questions about if you will be able to travel during these uncertain times, do not hesitate to reach out to us online or by calling us at 416-321-2860.
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