2024-2026 Immigration Levels Plan

Steven MeurrensImmigration Trends

On November 1, 2026, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (“IRCC”) published its Supplementary Information for the 2024-2026 Immigration Levels Plan (the “Immigration Levels Plan”).  Under the Immigration Levels Plan, the target for new permanent residents to Canada for 2024 is 485,000.  This number will increase to 500,000 in 2025.  The permanent resident target will then stay the same in 2026.

The Immigration Levels Plan contains a detailed breakdown of planned admissions in several categories. What is somewhat remarkable is that not only will the overall admissions from 2025-2026 remain the same, but the planned admissions in each category will as well.

The Canadian government reportedly decided to freeze admission targets because of increasingly negative public sentiment towards immigration during the on-going cost of living crisis, which was starting to be reflected in political polls. While the political rationale for freezing immigration levels may be understandable, it unfortunately will likely mean difficulties for many temporary residents inside Canada who wish to become permanent residents, as well as application backlogs.

Difficulties for Temporary Residents inside Canada to Obtain Permanent Residence

In 2023 IRCC introduced category-based draws to Express Entry, in which individuals with certain language or occupational backgrounds would be invited to apply for permanent residency with lower points than general rounds of invitations.  While qualifying individuals have benefited from this, many foreign workers in the Express Entry pool have essentially been left behind.  Prior to the introduction of category-based draws, the Comprehensive Ranking Score threshold for general rounds of invitation was around 486, and trending downwards. Since the introduction of category-based draws the threshold for general rounds of invitation has been 500+.

The Immigration Levels Plan is likely to lead to a further increase in the number of Express Entry points required to qualify for a general around.  The plan calls for increasing the number of French-speaking permanent resident admissions outside of Quebec from 26,100 to 31,500 to 36,000 in 2024-2026.  With immigration levels largely staying flat during this period, it is not clear where these new French-speaking admissions will come from, other than Express Entry.

Express Entry already has a category-based draw for Francophones.  The frequency and size of these draws will likely need to increase in order to achieve the government’s new Francophone immigration targets.  Because overall levels are largely staying flat, the amount of Express Entry spots for non-Francophones will correspondingly presumably need to decrease.


The Immigration Levels Plan seems inconsistent with recent government press releases and announcements regarding new programs.  Indeed, despite the announcement of these new programs, the 2024-2026 Immigration Levels Plan is largely unchanged from last year’s 2023-2025 Immigration Levels Plan.

For example, from 2024-2026 the target for “Total Humanitarian & Compassionate and Other” will decrease from 13,750 in 2024 to 8,000 per year in 2025 and 2026.  This category not only includes Humanitarian & Compassionate Class applications, but also the new public policy permanent resident programs for Hong Kong and Ukrainian nationals. As well, in October, 2023, Marc Miller, Canada’s Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada announced that Canada would be welcoming 11,000 Colombians, Haitians and Venezuelans through a new humanitarian permanent residence pathway.  The number of people eligible to apply for this category is much bigger than the planned admission targets.

Similarly, the number of people that IRCC plans on obtaining permanent residence after successfully claiming asylum in Canada is unchanged from previous plans, despite media reports of an increase in refugee claims.  The number of resettled refugees planned for 2024 and 2025 also did not change from the previous 2023-2025 plan. This is surprising because in February 2023 Canada’s House of Commons unanimously voted to resettle 10,000 Uyghur refugees in 2024 and 2025. They do not appear to be factored into the plan.

The only way to reconcile the seeming gap between the announcement of new immigration programs with the fact that these programs do not appear to be reflected in 2024-2026 Immigration Levels Plan is that IRCC does not plan on processing these applications before 2027.  The implication is backlogs.

Mind the Gap

As with Canadian immigration levels plans, there is a tension between the number of temporary residents and the number of permanent residents admitted each year.  Permanent resident admissions to Canada are capped. Temporary residence applications are not.

One thing is clear.  If Canada plans on freezing permanent resident admissions and the number of temporary residents admitted to Canada continues to rise, then the gap between those who can come to Canada and those who can stay permanently will only increase.  This gap will likely be the major immigration issue for whichever political party wins the 2025 federal election.