Canada welcomes over 300,000 new arrivals so far in 2022

Updated: Sep 27, 2022 | Tags: Canada Immigration, Canada Visa

Over 300,000 people have become permanent residents of Canada in 2022 so far, according to statistics released by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). This figure puts Canada within reach of its announced target of over 431,000 permanent residents by the end of the year. If Canada is able to reach or even exceed this immigration target in 2022, it will be the highest number of new arrivals on record, exceeding even the previous highest year, 2021. To give some sense of the scale of the increase, even the current total for 2022 is higher than overall immigration in some previous years.

Achieving immigration goals

These new numbers reflect the latest step in a long series of steady increases for the country's immigration goals. March 2022 saw the announcement of Canada's Immigration Levels Plan for 2022 to 2024, which specified a target of 431,645 new permanent residents, with totals increasing through 2024. This was in line with previous Immigration Levels Plans created by the Liberal government, which sought to combat shortages of high-skilled workers by encouraging immigration not only from workers in high-demand fields but also by international students. Although the target numbers were ambitious, success in the previous year's targets increased confidence, especially in view of the dramatic difference between the successes of 2021 and the effect of Covid-19 on immigration in 2020. As a result of travel restrictions, office closures and other factors, Canada welcomed only around 184,000 new arrivals in 2020. This low rate of immigration meant that Canadian population growth dropped to its lowest level in over a century, a particularly severe setback in a year with a target of over 300,000 new arrivals.

Despite these setbacks, Canadian immigration levels are now climbing once more. This is partly a natural consequence of the relaxation of pandemic restrictions and partly a result of changes in how IRCC processes permanent residence applications. Whereas applications previously required in-person appointments, which had to be suspended to protect both applicants and employees from Covid-19, applications will now be processed completely online. In addition, IRCC plans to hire 1,250 new employees in order to speed up processing of residency applications. Processing speed has long been a concern for IRCC, and Covid exacerbated the problem even further. Many IRCC employees were furloughed to protect them from the pandemic, further slowing the By late October 2021, the agency had built up a backlog of around 1.8 million cases. Processing these older applications quickly and efficiently is key to hitting the ambitious targets Canada has set for itself in 2022 and onward.

Immigration strategy in the post-travel-restriction era

Because international travel was restricted for much of 2020 and 2021, most new permanent residents in 2021 were applicants who were already resident in Canada, including applicants in Provincial Nominee Programs (PNP) or members of the Canadian Experience Class (CEC). The effect of this change can be seen in the increase of new residents who had previously worked in Canada. In 2020, according to Statistics Canada, around 67% of new permanent residents had previously worked in Canada, compared to just 33% in 2010. As travel restrictions ease, however, new applicants are coming from a wider range of different categories. However, the PNP will continue to play an important role in Canadian immigration, with 83,500 spaces earmarked for PNP applicants in 2022. This number will rise to 93,000 in 2024.

Canada's ambitious immigration goals are a response to a number of economic and demographic trends. With unemployment levels at historic lows, the nation's labour market continues to experience high demand in a wide range of fields, with over a million job vacancies requiring applicants. Additionally, Canada's ageing population means that large numbers of Canadians will reach retirement age in the coming years, requiring a new supply of workers to support them and maintain the tax base. As native-born Canadian birth rates decline, the most obvious source for these new workers and taxpayers is immigration. The majority of Canada's population growth and almost all of its labour force growth result from immigration.

Who are the new arrivals?

In addition to helping the economy overall, immigration is crucial to key sectors of Canadian society such as health care. Immigrants make up over a third of key workers in the field, including physicians, dentists and pharmacists.

New arrivals don't just benefit the Canadian economy, however; they're also earning more than ever before. Recent reports by Statistics Canada show that earnings by new immigrants have risen substantially, while the employment gap between immigrants and native-born Canadians has also narrowed significantly compared to 2010.

Canada's new permanent residents come from all around the world, but some regions have contributed an especially large number of applicants. Over 68,000 of 2022's new permanent residents – so far – have come to Canada from India. This makes India by far the largest source of new permanent residents, with more than five times the number of new arrivals of second-place China. Other nations with a high number of new permanent residents include Afghanistan, Nigeria and the Philippines.

A bright future for immigration to Canada

With Canada possibly on track to meet or even exceed its 2022 immigration targets, the goals outlined in the Immigration Levels Plan seem increasingly feasible. A second year of record immigration totals would demonstrate the effectiveness of new IRCC procedures and build confidence in IRCC's ability to maintain the numbers of new arrivals needed to support Canada's economy.