Arriving and departing permanent and non-permanent residents

Within the report, CIBC notes how there were 471,771 new permanent residents to Canada in 2023, with a target of 485,000 in 2024 and 500,000 in both 2025 and 2026. That’s about 1.2% of Canada’s current population. Except for 2020, these targets have historically been achieved and are not expected to be revised lower. Here, the situation is relatively straightforward.

Adjusting for visas issued already in Canada on a temporary basis, about 1% population growth is locked in for 2024, 2025 and 2026 in the federal government’s immigration targets.

However, the situation is slightly more complicated regarding non-permanent residents. Net additions in 2023 were 804,901, while visa issuances are still rising for this year. Between January and April, the number of foreign students rose by 13.6% relative to the same period last year.

The number of workers is up by 10.5%, and for asylum seekers has risen by no less than 65.9%.

According to Tal, the current pace of growth for new student visa holders will almost certainly slow due to current measures that have been put in place. As a result, the stock of valid international student visa holders will likely decline by year-end, from 1.04 million in 2023 — the question that remains is by how much.

Notable exemptions from the announced caps for Master’s, PhD, as well as elementary and secondary students may result in a more modest overall decline than some forecasts.

“More important is the fact that for the targeted decline of non-permanent residents to work we need to see a spike in the number of departures of existing visa holders, especially students who are now restricted in their hours of work and visa renewals,” Tal writes.

“Implementation has time lags and those restrictions were not evident in departure numbers for Q1.”

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Impact is higher population growth and a strain on resources, including rentals

While CIBC predicts a significant reduction in visas issued for students for the remainder of 2024, bank analysts also suggest that expiring student and work visas may not translate into the desired slowdown of population growth.

“The retention rate of temporary visa holders appears to be rising. This likely reflects a combination of seeking economic security by retaining current jobs, continuing aspirations of permanent residency and the promise of a special pathway for qualified 'illegals'/expired visa holders for those that cannot qualify currently for permanent residency,” Tal wrote.

“Accordingly it’s hardly surprising that an increasing share of students are seeking asylum.”

In fact, Tal predicts asylum seekers will be the source of the greatest growth in the population in 2024. If that growth rate extends to year-end, there would be close to 240,000 asylum claimants, which is 95,000 greater than in 2023.

Statistics Canada counts all expired visa holders as having left the country for 120 days — only those expired visa holders applying as asylum seekers or approved for other visas will appear in Stats Can population numbers.

By including expired visa holders for 120 days, rather than 30 days as it was before July 2021, there will be a greater lag in assumed departure.

**Bottom line

2024 might see population growth between 2% to 3% — potentially double the rate hoped by many, with obvious implications for rent inflation and economic growth,” Tal writes. “The hope is that 2025 and 2026 will see more of the desired softening.”

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Nicholas completed his master's in journalism and communications at Western University. Since then, he's worked as a reporter at the Financial Post, Healthing.ca, Sustainable Biz Canada and more. Aside from reporting, he also has experience in web production, social media management, photography and video production. His work can also be found in the Toronto Star, Yahoo Finance Canada, Electric Autonomy Canada and Exclaim among others.

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