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Canada welcomed nearly 11,000 new permanent residents in May, the first sign of recovery since coronavirus restrictions severely limited arrivals.
While the increase is a sign of the start of the recovery, it is also an indication that immigration officials are processing virtual permanent resident arrivals in increasing numbers.
Officials were able to process 5,000 virtual arrivals in a week in June, showing their ability to maintain numbers despite the crisis.
New ‘arrivals’ can either be candidates already in Canada transitioning from a temporary status, or those from overseas who were approved before March 18 and are therefore exempt from travel restrictions.
Despite the green shoots of recovery emerging, immigration numbers remain significantly below pre-coronavirus levels.
February 2020 saw 28,895 arrivals, while 33,015 permanent residents arrived in May 2019. Up to the end of May, Canada has welcomed a total of 84,275 new permanent residents so far in 2020, compared to 125,870 by the same point last year.
It means Canada is increasingly unlikely to reach its target of 341,000 new permanent resident arrivals in 2020.
Restrictions on international travel are in place until at least the end of July, as the federal government looks to guard against a disastrous second wave of COVID-19 infections.
The current closure of the Canada-U.S. border is in place until July 21, although it has already been extended several times since it was initially imposed in March.
The restrictions bar entry to all except citizens and permanent residents, with some exemptions.
Canada currently has exemptions in place for:
- 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.
- 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.