Interest in Canadian immigration remains high: study

Kareem El-Assal
Published: January 30, 2022

A new survey of over 13,000 prospective immigrants shows that interest to move to Canada remains strong.

The survey was conducted by World Education Services (WES) Canada, a designated provider of Educational Credential Assessments (ECA) for Canadian immigration.

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In 2020, WES surveyed individuals that had submitted an ECA application to better understand how the coronavirus pandemic was impacting their Canadian immigration plans.

In August 2021, WES repeated the survey to compare responses and to see if the evolving pandemic context has impacted the motivations of respondents to immigrate to Canada.

WES reports there is no decrease since 2020 in respondents being interested in immigrating to Canada. Nearly 52 per cent of respondents said the pandemic would have no impact on their immigration plans. Nearly 93 per cent said the pandemic would either have "no impact" or make them "more interested".

In the 2021 survey, 33 per cent of respondents said they felt the pandemic would negatively impact job availability in Canada, down from the 45 per cent who felt this way in 2020. Meanwhile, 35 per cent said they felt the pandemic would have a positive impact on job availability, compared to 27 per cent who felt this way in 2020.

Some 58 per cent of respondents indicated they were more interested in immigrating to Canada due to the Canadian government and health care system's ability to manage the pandemic and care for COVID-19 patients.

Only 21 per cent stated the pandemic would delay their Canadian immigration plans, compared to 35 per cent in 2020.

On the other hand, 22 per cent said they are interested in immigrating to a country other than Canada, compared with 13 per cent in 2020.

Respondents suggested they would still have a strong desire to pursue Canadian permanent resident status even if challenging economic or personal circumstances arose. For instance, 74 per cent said that an economic recession in Canada would either have no impact or would increase their interest in gaining permanent residence. This is up from the 69 per cent that responded the same way to this question in the 2020.

They also felt more optimistic about job prospects in Canada amid the pandemic versus prospects in their home countries. Some 77 per cent said they felt COVID-19 would have no impact or a positive impact on jobs in their occupation or sector compared with 69 per cent in their home country. Just 23 per cent felt it would have a negative impact, a decrease compared to the 28 per cent who felt their would be a negative impact on jobs in their occupation or sector in Canada in 2020.

Among those considering delaying immigrating to Canada, the top three reasons cited were travel restrictions, a significant increase in Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) processing times, and a decrease in jobs in their field in Canada.

Canada was looking to welcome another 341,000 immigrants in 2020, mostly under the economic class, before the pandemic hit. It imposed travel restrictions to limit the spread of COVID which reduced new immigrant landings to just 184,000 that year.

Travel restrictions have since been lifted for the most part. However the pandemic has increased IRCC's backlog to 1.8 million applicants which has slowed processing times. Canada's economy improved in 2021 and the country currently has its highest job vacancy rate on record with nearly 1 million available jobs.

In 2021, Canada sought to land 401,000 new immigrants and achieved this goal largely by transitioning those in Canada to permanent residence. The Canadian government will announce its new Immigration Levels Plan 2022-2024 by February 14. The plan will indicate the number of new immigrants Canada will seek to welcome this year, and the categories they will fall under.

The current plan aims to welcome 411,000 new immigrants this year of which nearly 60 per cent are set to arrive under the economic class.

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