Canada’s immigration numbers in 2023 continue the solid and positive trends witnessed in 2022. The government’s renewed commitment towards Immigration was seen in the 2023-2025 Immigration Levels Plan, with an overall Planned Permanent Resident Admission target of 465,000 for 2023. This was no more evident than in the honourable Immigration minister- Sean Fraser’s words expressing the essential role Newcomers played in filling Canadian labour shortages, bringing new perspectives and talents and enriching society as a whole.
This projected target for 2023 is set to eclipse the record of 437,000 permanent residents welcomed into Canada in 2022.
So, with half the year gone, it’s time for a quick recap of the past six months and the various milestones and answers to the looming question- can Canadian Immigration meet the lofty targets set for the year?
A Brief Recap of the Immigration Levels Plan 2023-2025
Canada admits Newcomers under various categories depending on their eligibility and ability to meet certain conditions. The allotted admissions under each category for 2023 are as follows:
|Economic (Express Entry categories, Provincial Nominee Program etc.)||266,210|
|Family (Parents and Grandparents, Spouses/ Partners and Children)||106,500|
|Refugees and Protected Persons||76,305|
|Humanitarian and Compassionate causes||15,985|
|Overall Planned Permanent Resident Admissions||465,000|
The Immigration Numbers so far
Statistics Canada’s data for the first quarter of 2023 showed a population growth of 292,232 from the year’s start. More remarkably, 98% of the growth is a direct result of permanent and temporary Immigration into the country. The exact immigration numbers were 145,417 in the first quarter, the highest ever for a single quarter.
Another significant milestone was surpassing the 40 million population mark on June 16, 2023.
Major Province wise Immigration numbers in early 2023
Ontario received over 60,828, or 41.8% of all immigrants, into Canada during the first quarter of 2023.
Alberta had the second-highest population growth rate in the first quarter of 2023, with 35,932 new residents- temporary and permanent, added through International Immigration.
International Immigration grew British Columbia’s population by 40,840 during the first quarter of 2023.
International migration accounted for an additional 8606 individuals during the first quarter of 2023, up from 4932 during the first quarter of 2022.
A monthly recap of important events in 2023
International Experience Canada
In January, Canada opened the application pool for its IEC program- a flagship program that grants qualified youth from 36 partner countries access to employer-specific and open work permits in Canada. The aim for 2023 is to expand the program’s intake to 90,000 applicants.
First Express Entry draw of 2023
The first Express Entry draw of 2023 was held on January 11, issuing Invitations to apply to 5,500 candidates from the Canadian Experience Class, Federal Skilled Worker Program and the Federal Skilled Trades Program. The minimum CRS score was 507.
The Pearson Test of English gets approved for Canadian immigration applications.
In February 2023, the Pearson Test of English became the third IRCC-approved language test for immigrants from the economic category after the IELTS and CELPIP.
New Application trackers for Express Entry and PNP launched.
As part of its digitalization efforts, the IRCC launched new online Application Status Trackers for applicants to Express Entry and Provincial Nominee Programs in 2023. The long-awaited move will help the transparency and accessibility of the respective programs.
IRCC approves monthly medical insurance instalments for Super visa
The IRCC walked back its annual up-front insurance payments for Super visa applicants in 2023, owing to the financial burden it placed on candidates. The process has reverted to monthly instalments for Super visa medical coverage payments.
The popular Super visa allows Canadian residents and citizens to reunite with their foreign parents and grandparents in Canada with provisions for multiple entry and 5-year-stays at a time, over 10 years.
Visitors can obtain work permits with valid job offers.
The Canadian work permit also received a rework in 2023, with the IRCC now allowing legal visitors with a job offer and positive or neutral LMIA to apply for and obtain a work permit while in Canada. Previously, applications for work permits were generally made before the applicant arrived in the country. The change is part of Canada’s attempt to address labour shortages.
Historic month for Express Entry
The IRCC issued 21,667 Invitations to Apply in the month of March-the highest figure ever recorded in the Express Entry program’s history since its inception.
PSAC strikes and their effect on Immigration
The Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) strikes 2023, which lasted till May 1 temporarily affected the IRCC’s ability to process applications, in-person appointments, and citizenship and passport services. The strikes were a temporary bump on an exemplary year with the IRCC on pace to break its immigration records.
Work experience requirements reduced for Caregivers
Catering to Canada’s aging population, the government has halved the work experience required by caregivers applying for permanent residency from 24 to 12 months, starting April 30, 2023. The change will apply to applicants from the Home Child Care Provider and the Home Support Worker pilot. As of July 2022, the number of Canadians aged 65 years and older was 7,660,605 of the estimated 38 million total.
Dangers of fraud
April 2023 was an eye-opener for many prospective immigrants and international students on the dangers of fraudsters and scams. Owing to an unfortunate chain of events, over 700 Indian students face deportation due to faked admission offer letters issued by consulting firms back in India.
Changes to Express Entry Proof of Funds requirement
The IRCC changed the Proof of Funds requirement under the Express Entry class. As of the latest update, Applicants applying under the Canadian Experience Class or having prior authorization to work in Canada along with a valid job offer no longer need to show proof of funds.
The updated table of the minimum required funds required for the Federal Skilled Worker program and Federal Skilled Trades program are as follows:
|Family members||Required funds in CAD|
|For any additional family member||$ 3,706|
Category-based draws for Express Entry
2023 saw the launch of the IRCC’s new category-based Express Entry draws that focus on applicants with:
- A strong French language proficiency
- Work experience in:
- STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) professions
- Trades (carpenters, plumbers and contractors)
- Transport and
The move aims to keep Immigration aligned with the needs of the Labour market. The first targeted Express Entry draw of June saw Invitations issued to 500 healthcare workers who qualified with a minimum Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) score of 476.
A second healthcare category-based draw held in July saw over 1500 ITA’s issued to healthcare professionals with a minimum CRS score of 463.
The IRCC also held its first targeted STEM draw in July 2023, with 500 ITA’s issued to STEM workers with a minimum CRS score of 486.
New work permit for US H-1B visa holders
Another major development in June 2023 was the introduction of new work permits for holders of American H-1B visas. The new work permit, which aims to improve labour mobility in North America, allows H-1B visa holders in the US to apply for and receive open work permits in Canada for up to three years. Additionally, their family members are eligible to accompany them and apply for temporary resident visas.
Removal of limits on the length of study programs for work permit holders
In another boost for Temporary Foreign workers interested in educational opportunities, the IRCC has removed the limit on the length of study programs they can enrol in without a study permit. The new change is temporary and will only be valid for three years. Prior to this move, Temporary workers were only allowed access to study programs of six months or less without a study permit.
New Tech Talent strategy
The government introduced a new Tech Talent strategy in 2023 to support Canada’s leading role in the Tech sector. The four pillars of this strategy include moves to:
- Develop a new Innovation Stream under the International Mobility Program for highly skilled individuals.
- Promote Canada as a destination for digital nomads.
- Creation of specialized work permits for H-1B holders in the US to come to Canada.
- Improving existing tech immigration programs like the Global Skills Strategy and the Start-up Visa program.
Pathway to Permanent residency for displaced Ukrainians in Canada
Canada continues to aid in resettling displaced Ukrainians more than a year after the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The Canada-Ukraine Authorization for Emergency Travel (CUAET) allows Ukrainians and their family members to stay in Canada for up to 3 years as temporary residents with prioritized study and work permit facilities. So far, 171,523 Ukrainians have arrived under this program between March 17, 2022, and July 22, 2023.
The government will also launch a new Pathway to permanent residency starting October 2023 that will accept Ukrainian nationals having temporary resident status with one or more family members in Canada.
Marc Miller, the new Immigration minister
July’s reshuffling of the cabinet saw the appointment of a new immigration minister Marc Miller, a Member of Parliament from Montreal who previously served as Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations. He takes over the reins from Sean Fraser- now the Minister of Housing, Infrastructure and Communities.
International Students- Amendment to off-campus work hours policy
Canada is quickly staking its claim as one of the top educational destinations in the world, ranking as the most popular study-abroad option in a survey conducted by Times Higher Education. The IRCC has been aiding this meteoric rise through many facilities and benefits meant to entice and attract the brightest international students.
One of the most visible measures was the decision to temporarily adopt a work-friendly off-campus work authorization policies that allow international students to seek off-campus work opportunities. To qualify for off-campus work, students will have to meet the following prerequisites:
- Be a full-time student of a Designated Learning Institution (DLI)
- Be enrolled in a post-secondary academic, vocational or professional training program or a secondary-level vocational training program for Quebec.
- Have a study program at least 6 months long that leads to a degree, diploma or certificate.
- Have started studying in the program
- Have a Social Insurance number
The policy allows qualified students to work up to 20 hours per week during regular semesters or full-time during scheduled breaks over the course of the year.
Temporary Foreign Workers and Temporary Visitors
To compensate for a tight labour market yet to fully recover from the pandemic, the Canadian government has permitted employers in seven sectors experiencing labour shortages to hire up to 30% of their workforce through the Temporary Foreign Worker Program for low-wage positions. The move includes measures to maintain their maximum duration of employment for up to two years.
The government has also cut down the average processing times for Labour Market Impact Assessments (LMIA) down to 29 days nationally, compared to 40 days at the start of the year; Also, more than 56.5% (108,592) more files have been processed in the first quarter of 2023 as compared to the same period in 2022.
Like all massive operations, the Canadian immigration system has been plagued by Backlogs that delay and impede the timely functioning of various processes. Tackling the issue was one of the IRCC’s priorities going into 2023. The IRCC aims to process at least 80% of applications within services standards.
So far, of 2,263,000 total applications in all IRCC inventories, 1,462,700 are within service standards, with 801,000 exceeding the service standards. A further breakdown shows 68% of Temporary residence applications within service standards, 53% of Permanent residence applications and 76% of citizenship applications.
The Story so far…
Canada’s immigration plans have been off to a flying start in 2023, breaking many new records and is primed to meet the expectations laid out by the Immigration Levels Plan- barring severe abnormalities. More importantly, the IRCC has set about certain measures to improve the efficiency and overall comfort of immigration applicants.