In 2018, Canada received 320 000 new immigrants on a long-term or permanent basis (including changes of status), 11.9% more than in 2017. This figure comprises 29.9% labour migrants, 54.6% family members (including accompanying family) and 14.2% humanitarian migrants. Around 153 000 permits were issued to tertiary-level international students and 246 000 to temporary and seasonal labour migrants.

India, the Philippines and China were the top three nationalities of newcomers in 2018. Among the top 15 countries of origin, India registered the strongest increase (18 000) and the Philippines the largest decrease (-5 800) in flows to Canada compared to the previous year.

In 2019, the number of first asylum applicants increased by 5.3%, to reach around 58 000. The majority of applicants came from India (5 200), Mexico (5 100) and Nigeria (3 000). The largest increase since 2018 concerned nationals of Mexico (1900) and the largest decrease nationals of Nigeria (-5 600). Of the 47 000 decisions taken in 2019, 52.7% were positive.

The Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot was launched in January 2019 in 11 rural and northern communities to help fill chronic labour shortages and enhance retention, combining jobs with career development potential and connections to settlement services. The pilot builds on existing economic initiatives to the regions, such as the Atlantic Immigration Program.

Canada launched the new Agri-Food Pilot in May 2020. This three-year economic pilot aims to help address persistent labour shortages in the agri-food sector, particularly in the meat processing, mushroom and greenhouse crop production, and livestock raising industries. This Pilot will attract and retain experienced workers by providing them with an opportunity to become permanent residents, and help employers fill full-time, year-round positions.

In June 2019, Canada launched two new Caregiver pilots to replace the expired caregiver pilots. These address vulnerabilities experienced by in-home foreign caregivers, including a clear and more direct pathway to permanent residence; an occupation-restricted open work permit; and immediate family members may also accompany them, reducing family separation.

The innovative Economic Mobility Pathways Project is advancing the goals of the 2019-2021 Strategy on Resettlement and Complementary Pathways, for skilled refugees to immigrate to Canada through existing economic pathways. In June 2020, a new commitment scaled up the Project to admit 500 individuals over the next two years and to further research building a sustainable complementary pathways model.

Until recently, asylum claim volumes in Canada had been trending upwards for years, creating a backlog of claims. The Canadian government made significant investments in 2019 to enhance the capacity and efficiency of the asylum system and to manage irregular migration at the Canada-US border.

To support successful newcomer settlement and integration, the Canada government has signed more than 750 agreements for projects to be delivered by more than 500 service provider organisations in 2020-25, including 20 new Francophone organisations. A specific focus of settlement supports is on visible minority newcomer women to address challenges in joining Canada’s labour market.

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic measures, the 2020-22 Immigration Levels Plan was announced in March 2020. The Plan continued with modest growth in the planned number of new permanent residents: 341 000 admissions in 2020, to 351 000 in 2021, and 361 000 in 2022. In light of the pandemic, Canada continues to monitor the impacts on admissions throughout 2020 and in future years.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Canadian government implemented a number of migration-related measures to protect the health and safety of Canadians while facilitating essential services and non-discretionary or non-optional travel. Measures include: allowing asylum seekers in Canada to apply for asylum via e-mail; exemptions to travel restrictions for approved new permanent residents, workers and students; easing work limits for international students working in an essential service; enabling new temporary foreign workers to work in Canada while upholding mandatory quarantine measures; facilitating existing temporary foreign workers to change employers in Canada; extended timelines to restore temporary resident status; allowing foreign nationals already in Canada to initiate an asylum claim for protection via email rather than in person; continuing critical settlement and resettlement services; and conducting virtual citizenship ceremonies.

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