Last Updated on December 14, 2020

Canada saw just over 15,000 new immigrants arrive in October, keeping pace with the month before, but still well down on 2019 levels, the latest figures show.

With restrictions in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it means Canada welcomed 158,565 new permanent residents in the first 10 months of this year, down from 295,180 in the corresponding period of 2019.

The 15,070 October newcomers effectively equalled the figure for September but there is less than half the 31,235 new permanent residents welcomed in October 2019.

New permanent resident ‘arrivals’ can either be candidates already in Canada transitioning from a temporary status or those from overseas covered by an exemption to travel restrictions.

Permanent Resident Admissions to Canada by Month

Despite the current restrictions and the impact they are having, Ottawa recently announced its plan to significantly increase immigration from 2021 to kickstart the economic recovery from the pandemic.

Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino told parliament at the end of October that immigration levels would increase to more than 400,000 in 2021, and further over the next two years.

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Current restrictions on international travel and the closure of the Canada-U.S. border are in place until at least January 21, 2021, as the federal government looks to quell the second wave of COVID-19 infections.

The restrictions bar entry to all except citizens and permanent residents, with some exemptions.

Canada currently has exemptions in place for the following people, provided they are travelling for a non-discretionary reason.

  • Seasonal agricultural workers, fish/seafood workers, caregivers and all other temporary foreign workers.
  • International students who held a valid study permit, or had been approved for a study permit, when the travel restrictions took effect on March 18, 2020. More international students will be allowed to travel from October 20 under a new exemption.
  • Permanent resident applicants who had been approved for permanent residence before the travel restrictions were announced on March 18, 2020, but who had not yet travelled to Canada.
  • Immediate family members of Canadian citizens and permanent residents are also exempt if entering to be with an immediate family member for at least 15 days.
  • Extended family members of citizens and permanent residents, plus foreign nationals travelling on compassionate grounds.

Recent news on the delivery of the first COVID-19 vaccines to Canada means a clearer picture is developing of when travel and border restrictions could be loosened.

Given the predictions being made by vaccine experts, it seems likely to be the second half of 2021 before travel normality can start to resume.

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