ICC Immigration Dashboard: Canada’s Immigration Progress and International Students Debate


By Adiba Hasan

Mid-Year Check: Permanent Residents

Canada, recently rated as the second-best country in the world, is well on its way to achieving its target of welcoming 465,000 permanent residents in 2023. According to the latest data in the ICC Citizenship and Immigration Dashboard, Canada has reached 56% of its goal, admitting 263,175 permanent residents.

January – June Actual: 263,175
Mid-Year Check: Citizenship

While PR numbers are on track with the targets set out in the latest immigration levels plan, citizenship numbers are down compared to 2022. Halfway into 2023, Canada has admitted 177,415 citizens (check out ICC Immigration Dashboard).

Citizens admitted 2023 (Jan-June Actual): 177,415

In comparison to the same time period in 2022, Canada had admitted 187,540 citizens, indicating that citizenship processing is down 5.3%. On a monthly level from May to June 2023, citizenship numbers dropped by 12%, from 42,537 to 34,474 respectively.

International Students amidst Canadian political debates

Notwithstanding the recent progress against the targets set out in the latest immigration levels plan, debates have erupted over the impact of high levels of immigration to Canada on key services and infrastructure, with housing featuring prominently. The debate has expanded to include temporary categories of immigration, in particular international students. In 2022, Canada hosted 549,260 international students, the largest cohort in Canada’s history. This year, Canada has already admitted 289,875 international students according to IRCC data, well on its way to hosting 900,000 international students altogether.

As governments grapple with housing solutions, international students have become unwitting pawns in domestic political debates. In a CBC article, Isaac Garcia-Sitton, the executive director of international student enrolment, education and inclusion at Toronto Metropolitan University stated, “Canada’s established policies, systems and processes are not strategic in scope and lack an emphasis on student well-being — favouring the recruitment of international students but not necessarily their transition or settlement once they arrive”. This issue extends beyond the international student experience to the process of transitioning to permanent residence, and eventually, on to citizenship.

Proportion of PGWP holders who became PR in 2022

Data show that international students play a crucial role in Canada’s labour market, but many also go on to build long-term futures in Canada as permanent residents. Statistics Canada reported that among the 2008 cohort of international students who were in Canada on Post-Graduate Work Permits (PGWP), 73% had become permanent residents by their 10th year in Canada. In 2022, 53,725 Post-Graduate Work Permit (PGWP) holders transitioned to becoming permanent residents, representing 12% of the 437,120 PRs admitted last year (check the ICC Immigration and Citizenship Dashboard). International students are not only a source of domestically trained talent, they are future PRs and some eventually become citizens who vote, vocalize and shape the public discourse in Canada.

Canada’s immigration landscape in 2023 is characterized by both promise and challenge. International students not only enrich the country’s labour force but also contribute to the future of the country by building their futures here as permanent residents. However, the housing crisis remains a pressing issue that demands comprehensive solutions, and policies must evolve to prioritize the well-being of all immigrants, including new permanent residents and international students. In addition, better data needs to be gathered to track the proportion of international students who become permanent residents in Canada, and furthermore, to track the number who go on to become citizens. Questions remain as to whether international students are at the forefront of the government’s mind as they build frameworks and policies such as the “Trusted Institution Framework“.

Your insights and opinions on these critical matters are valuable. We invite you to share your thoughts and join the conversation on the future of immigration policies in Canada.

Take a look at our immigration dashboard for the latest numbers on PR admissions and new citizens.

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