10 things to watch out for in Canadian immigration in 2021

Express Entry

If you want to move to Canada in 2021, or at least get the ball rolling on your application, there are some things you may want to look out for over the next few months. Canada’s immigration system is constantly evolving, and 2021 will be no exception. Though a pandemic rages and travel is heavily restricted right now, the Canadian government has big plans for the country — and potentially for you.

Here are some things to look out for Canadian immigration in 2021, including expected changes and some possible important events.

1. Lifting of travel restrictions

The government has stated its expectation that by September, everyone in Canada who wants to be vaccinated will be vaccinated, which bodes well for potential relaxing of existing travel restrictions that have been in place since March 2020. Non-essential travel is expected to return to some degree of normalcy at some point.

The lifting of Canada’s travel restrictions will be an enormous relief for couples separated by the pandemic, as well as for the many people outside Canada who have a Confirmation of Permanent Residence (COPR) document, but who have not yet been able to actually move to Canada and are waiting patiently to do so.

2. The big one: a federal election

With weak challengers and some wind in his sails from a robust handling of the coronavirus pandemic to date, Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau could turn his existing minority government into a majority, making it easier to proceed with its agenda. Analysts suggest that though an election is not legally required in 2021, there is a strong possibility that Canadians will head to the polls for a federal election. We’ll leave aside the politics of why that may be and jump straight to how it may affect immigration to Canada.

The current government has set a lofty target to admit more than 400,000 new permanent residents in 2021, the highest annual target in over a century, with even higher targets for the following years. Flows of temporary residents, including international students and temporary work permit holders, are also expected to increase once effective mass vaccination against the coronavirus has been achieved.

If the opposition Conservatives sneak an election win, however, they could reset the course of Canadian immigration. It’s important to remember, however, that all of Canada’s main political parties are pro-immigration in the sense that they recognise the need for Canada’s economy to welcome people from abroad and by and large (with some exceptions) value the diverse perspectives those newcomers bring. If the Liberals win, expect their Canada Immigration Levels Plan for 2021-2023 to be the blueprint for Canadian immigration in a post-Covid world, but if the Conservatives pull off a victory, expect a reduction in overall immigration intake with much more focus on economic immigration and a larger role for the private sector in deciding who gets to come to Canada.

3. When will IEC 2021 open?

The International Experience Canada (IEC) program has been a big hit with international youth for many years now, but the 2020 IEC season was a bit of a dud. No invitations were issued after March, and those who were lucky enough to be invited and approved last winter then needed a job offer in Canada to be admitted, which was never a requirement previously for working holidaymakers.

While in a normal year the IEC floodgates would have opened by now, there is no clear sign that the program will open before the pandemic is under more control. And when the IEC 2021 season does open, which we all hope it will, there’s always the possibility that it may have some special measures in response to Covid-19. There’s plenty of uncertainty and we cannot be certain what things will look like when the IEC program opens again. Potential applicants can follow our Working Holiday Newshub, where we’ll cover all the latest updates to IEC, and register their Moving2Canada GO account. GO is a personalised checklist for your IEC journey to Canada – check it out!

4. Express Entry candidates start proving French ability

Late in 2020, the Canadian government decided to award even more additional points to Express Entry candidates with French ability. Now, anecdotal evidence suggests that an increasing number of Express Entry candidates are brushing up on their un, deux, trois or even learning French from scratch with the aim of adding precious extra points to their Express Entry profile. With many of those candidates still preparing for their French exam, the true effect of these recent changes on the distribution of candidates within the Comprehensive Ranking System may not be seen for another few months.

Bonne chance!

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