Immigrant flows fell sharply in 2020 due to COVID-19, OECD report finds

Posted November 14, 2021 8:00 AM EST



The COVID-19 crisis led to the largest drop in immigration to OECD countries, including Canada, on record.

This observation was presented by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in its Annual Report on migration, published Thursday, October 28.

“Migration flows to OECD countries have declined dramatically, with much of the progress in migrant integration made over the past decade wiped out in just one year following the COVID-19 pandemic “the organization said in a press release.

In 2020, 3.7 million migrants entered the twenty-five OECD member countries included in the analysis, the lowest number since 2003. This also represents the sharpest drop in immigration flows to the OECD countries never recorded, by more than 30 percent, according to the report.

This suggests that the drop could be much larger, reaching over 40 percent, due to factors such as status changes that can result in an individual’s administrative double counting.

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There were declines in all areas, affecting all categories of permanent migration in 2020.

Family migration showed the largest decline with a drop of 35 percent. Temporary employment migration also fell sharply in most OECD countries in 2020. Canada recorded one of the largest declines (-37%), with countries like the United States (-37% ), Australia (-37%), Korea (-57%) and Japan (-65%).

The number of vacation workers fell by 58 percent and intra-company transfers by 53 percent, while the flow of seasonal agricultural workers was the least affected with a drop of 9 percent.

As for the number of study permit issued in 2020, they fell sharply, by 70% in Canada and the United States, and by -40% on average in the OECD countries of the European Union.

New asylum claims in OECD countries fell by 31% in 2020 and resettlements by 65%.

The OECD report points out that in 2020 and 2021, the majority of OECD countries have reduced their immigration services. To curb the spread of COVID-19, entry bans have been imposed on foreign nationals and others in most countries.

On the other hand, a large majority of countries have also put in place temporary measures to mitigate the effects of the pandemic, such as facilitating the entry of essential workers or extending the duration of the legal status of workers already present in their territory as well as online learning for international students.

Beyond figures related to migrant flows, the report also highlights the fact that the pandemic has highlighted other existing and emerging challenges related to the integration of migrants in their host countries. For example, it has contributed to the exacerbation of pre-existing inequalities between immigrants and natives. The gap in employment rates between the foreign-born and the native-born has widened in OECD countries, and foreign-born workers have been disproportionately affected by job losses during the pandemic.

“Global and coordinated action is needed to prevent the pandemic from leading to a lasting decline in the integration of migrants. Considering the large number of people involved, such a setback would not only lead to negative economic consequences, but would also threaten social cohesion as a whole, ”said Stefano Scarpetta, OECD Director for Jobs, Labor and Social Affairs. social affairs, in a commentary accompanying the report.

As countries implement post-pandemic stimulus packages, Scarpetta stresses the importance of paying special attention to the integration of immigrants to avoid exacerbating the many disadvantages they face in labor markets. and today’s societies.

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