An account of how, in the face of a hostile pandemic environment, Canada managed to accomplish the highest level of immigration in its history.

According to fresh statistics received by CIC News from the IRCC, Canada exceeded its 2021 immigration target by landing 405,303 new permanent residents last year.

Only once in Canada's history has the number of newcomers reached 400,000, and it was in 1913. The start of WW1 saw an immediate decrease in the number of immigrants.

To aid Canada's post-pandemic economic recovery, the Immigration Levels Plan 2021-2023 sought to welcome 401,000 immigrants in 2021. Only 184,000 new immigrants arrived in Canada in 2020, bringing the country's population growth to its lowest level since the First World War. Before COVID-19, Canada had plans of welcoming 341,000 new immigrants every year.

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In order to fulfil its objective in 2021, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) focused on converting as many temporary residents already in Canada to permanent residents as possible. IRCC believed this step to be an effective one to meet the end goals in the face of restrictions related to travel because of COVID-19. From January through September, IRCC sponsored Express Entry lotteries that attracted large numbers of Canadian Experience Class (CEC) candidates, as one of the strategies it used to attract more permanent residents from within Canada. In May, the Immigration and Refugee Council of Canada (IRCC) unveiled six new immigration routes ("TR to PR") in an effort to attract an extra 90,000 international students and temporary foreign workers to Canada.

Most of the prospective immigrants coming to Canada are of economic class programs.Prior to the pandemic, applications from inside Canada accounted for 30% of new economic class landings, while applicants from outside accounted for 70%. In 2021, this was reversed, with 70% of passengers arriving from inside Canada and 30% from outside.

The debut of the six TR to PR streams and IRCC's massive CEC invitation rounds serve to explain why landings grew dramatically in the second half of 2021. In the first half of last year, IRCC received a substantial number of new in-Canada applications, then sped up processing by June and ended the year with upwards of 40,000 permanent residents each month.

In 2021, the number of new permanent residents arriving in Canada will be broken down by month.

In 2021, how did new immigrants do in Canada?

A total of 252,975 permanent inhabitants fell into this category. This equates to 62 percent of all immigrants arriving in 2021, which is greater than the 58 percent objective set under the 2021 immigration levels plan. In reality, Canada received nearly 20,000 more immigrants from lower-income families in 2021 than it had anticipated.

In 2021, a total of 80,990 family class immigrants arrived, far less than the 103,500 family class immigrants Canada aimed for under the 2021 levels plan. Last year, the family class accounted for 20% of new landings, falling short of the objective of 26% set by the levels plan.

In all, 60,115 permanent residents arrived in Canada as refugees and protected persons, somewhat less than the 65,000 people targeted in the plan. This amounted to 15% of all new landings, just shy of the levels plan's aim of 16 percent.

The remaining funds were classed as "All Other Immigration" by the IRCC.

CEC is the leader, accounting for over a third of all new permanent residents.

The CEC was the most popular method for new permanent residents, accounting for 130,555 persons, or 32% of all immigrants that arrived in 2021. In 2019, the CEC welcomed almost 30,000 persons, accounting for around 9% of total new arrivals.

The IRCC went into 2021 believing it would have to rely primarily on the CEC to meet its 401,000 objective. The department invited all 27,332 CEC applicants in the Express Entry pool on February 13, 2021, by far the most extraordinary draw in Express Entry's history, as an illustration of the considerable measures it took to in order to land high levels of CEC candidates. The draw was exceptional in that it produced nearly five times as many invitations as the previous record, with the lowest Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) score requirement since Express Entry's launch in 2015, and every single CEC candidate in the pool on that date receiving an invitation to apply for permanent residence.

In 2021, the IRCC only landed 8,320 workers under the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP). The FSWP was the primary program for new federal economic class landings prior to the epidemic. Under the FSWP, Canada welcomed 58,760 immigrants in 2019.

Last year's drop was due to IRCC's prioritisation of CEC and other applications received from within Canada. According to newer IRCC data, FSWP application processing has risen since December, with IRCC currently processing 800 FSWP applications each week on average.

Last year, the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) saw 53,960 landings. The PNP has been fully active throughout the epidemic, with IRCC and provinces and territories having frequent, and in some cases weekly, invitation rounds.

The transitory TR to PR program brought in 23,885 persons. This means that the majority of the 90,000 persons who applied for the program in 2021 have yet to be accepted.

The most common landings in the family class are spouses and partners. Last year, they accounted for 64,120 landings.

Where did Canada's newcomers settle?

Previous year, Ontario acquired 49 per cent of new immigrants, which is a bigger percentage in comparison with the previous 45 per cent it secured in the last pandemic in 2019. Given that the majority of these applicants live in Ontario, this can be explained in part by IRCC's reliance on the CEC.

Another big benefactor of IRCC's reliance on the CEC was British Columbia. It received 17% of all new immigrants in 2018, compared to 15% in 2019.

With almost 12% of 2021 landings, Quebec came in third, followed by Alberta with about 10%. Quebec's share remained unchanged from the previous year, while Alberta's portion dropped from 13% in 2019. Alberta's smaller proportion is due in part to the fact that it does not get as many immigrants under the CEC as Ontario and British Columbia. Manitoba and Saskatchewan's national shares fell as a result of the same factor.

Because they rely on the PNP and the Atlantic Immigration Pilot for their arrivals, the Atlantic region as a whole saw its national share fall. Nova Scotia, on the other hand, established a provincial record by receiving almost 9,000 immigrants last year.

What countries did Canada's immigrants come from?

Prior to the outbreak, the top countries of origin for incoming immigrants to Canada were the same. India will be the most significant source country in 2021, accounting for more than a third of all landings, up from 25% in 2019. The high frequency of CEC landings might explain this. The CEC is the country's greatest source of international students, with many of them becoming permanent residents.

According to IRCC statistics from January through November, the top ten nations are as follows:

  • The Indian subcontinent (32 percent)
  • China (8 percent)
  • Philippines (4.3 percent)
  • Nigeria (3.8 percent)
  • France (3.2 percent)
  • United States of America (3 percent)
  • Brazil (2.9 percent)
  • Iran (2.8 percent)
  • The Republic of Korea (2.1 percent)
  • Pakistan (2 percent)

Plan for Immigration Levels 2022-2024

Canada is aiming for 411,000 arrivals in 2022, but this figure might change when the federal government releases its revised Immigration Levels Plan 2022-2024 on Monday, February 14. The new strategy will lay out Canada's immigration goals for the next three years, as well as the admission classes and programs that will be used to achieve them.