2020 was quite the year! The Coronavirus pandemic circled the world, causing mass disruptions around the globe. Canadian immigration law was certainly not immune to this as we saw the implementation of travel restrictions, an unprecedented closure of the Canada-US border to all non-essential travel, mandatory quarantine periods, and increased processing times – just to name a few!
Through all the uncertainty, Canada has remained committed to welcoming immigrants and has made every effort to continue administering immigration programs in a safe manner throughout the pandemic. Recognizing the important contribution of immigrants in Canada throughout all sectors of the economy, including our health care system, the newly released 2021-2023 Immigration Levels Plan announced by the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, highlights the importance of strategic immigration on the country’s economy as we look to recover from the economic damage caused by the pandemic.
So, what does 2021 have in store for Canadian immigration? In this newly tabled Levels Plan, Canada announced they intend on welcoming over 401,000 permanent residents in the next year, with over half of admissions coming from economic immigration streams, both federally and provincially. These economic programs will ensure eligible immigration candidates that match both the country’s federal and regional labour shortages are targeted to support economic growth and recovery.
Family reunification will also remain a top priority of Canada’s immigration programs. Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada has increased their resources allocated to processing spousal sponsorship applications by 66% in an effort to process applications efficiently and reduce the length of time families are separated due to immigration procedures. While Canada’s 2020 Parent and Grandparent Sponsorship program was delayed due to COVID-19, the Canadian government has indicated they intend on re-opening the program this year and increasing the number of applications they will process from 10,000 in 2020 to 30,000 applications in 2021.
Of course, health and safety remain a top priority, and Canada continues to strengthen health screening measures at ports-of-entry. All air travellers over the age of 5 are now required to present negative COVID test results to the airline prior to boarding international flights to Canada, and all travellers must continue to follow the country’s mandatory isolation period upon entry.
While the past year brought challenges that nobody could have anticipated, 2021 brings with it a sense of hope as we move forward in our attempts to break free from the constraints of COVID-19. As our knowledge expands and vaccination campaigns are implemented worldwide, we hope to soon see the positive results of our efforts. Meanwhile, Canada continues its commitment to welcome new immigrants to the country.
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