Immigration interrupted: RBC Economics predicts Canada falling short of 2021 target of new permanent residents

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      RBC Economics sees Canada welcoming 275,000 new permanent residents in 2021.

      If this forecast is on the mark, the number will fall short of the country’s target of 401,000 arrivals this year.

      Permanent residency provides immigrants who have been approved to settle in Canada a path to citizenship.

      A report by RBC economist Andrew Agopsowicz notes that immigration in 2021 will look more like last year.

      In 2020, Canada saw 184,000 new permanent residents enter the country.

      The number is just over 50 percent of the 341,000 that was targeted at the beginning of 2020.

      Agopsowicz recalled that in response, the federal government announced new targets for 2021 through 2023.

      The targets could see over 1.2 million new permanent residents over this period.

      “However, announcing these targets, especially for 2021, may be putting the cart in front of the horse as strong headwinds limiting the number of newcomers are still in play,” Agopsowicz wrote.

      Agopsowicz’s paper titled ‘Canadian Immigration Interrupted: A Look Ahead Into 2021’ was released Tuesday (February 16).

      The paper cited a number of factors behind the decline in the number of new permanent residents to Canada.

      One is about border restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

      According to the RBC economist, border restrictions will “remain in effect into the foreseeable future”.

      This means that “with few exceptions, only those who are the immediate or extended family of Canadians or permanent residents may enter the country”.

      Second, there are “significant” delays in processing applications by the federal government’s agency responsible for immigration.

      While processing capacity by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada has “improved since the beginning of the pandemic, results are not promising”.

      Third, Agopsowicz noted that applications for permanent residency are down.

      “The number of new applicants for permanent residency has decline[d] significantly – on pace for less than 50% of 2019 levels in the second half of the 2020,” the economist stated.

      Other categories such as family sponsorship “continue to lag significantly behind”.

      “Coupled with processing delays, this implies that even if borders open up soon, it will still take time to increase the flow of new immigrants back to pre-pandemic levels,” Agopsowicz wrote.