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Immigration in Canada: Statistics & facts

Canada has been a land of immigrants since the first European colonizers of the 16th century, a trend that continues today. Currently, annual immigration in Canada amounts to around 300,000 new immigrants – one of the highest rates per population of any country in the world. As of 2021, there were more than eight million immigrants with permanent residence living in Canada - roughly 21.5 percent of the total Canadian population. Despite (or perhaps because of) this long history of immigration, public opinion on migration levels in Canada is split: 39 percent feel that the numbers should be lower, while 34 percent are satisfied with the current level.

Immigration laws in Canada

The primary law governing immigration in Canada is the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act from 2002. There are four immigrant admission classes under Canadian immigration law: the family class, which allows citizens or permanent residents to sponsor family members for admission into Canada; the economic class, which provides entrance to applicants and their family member who are likely to contribute to the Canadian economy; the refugee class, which provides admission to refugees escaping persecution and/or torture; and the ‘other’ class which includes immigrants accepted for humanitarian or compassionate reasons. Skilled workers form by far the largest category of immigrants in Canada, accounting for over twice the number of permanent residents than people who immigrated for family reasons. In 2021 refugees comprised only around 17 percent of the annual immigrant intake. When looking at refugee arrivals by class, more than ten thousand were ‘government-assisted’, meaning the state provides assistance for up to one year with accommodation, food, clothing, and finding employment.

Unemployment and education of immigrants in Canada

As the Canadian immigration system is designed to predominantly attract skilled workers from around the world, it is probably no surprise that recent immigrants to Canada tend to be well educated, with around two-thirds having a university degree or postsecondary certification. Despite this, unemployment among immigrants has been on average one percentage point higher than that of natural-born Canadian citizens over the last decade. However, the longer immigrants have lived in Canada the more likely they are to be employed. In 2021, the unemployment rate for immigrants landed in Canada more than a decade ago was about two points lower than of those immigrants landed within the previous five years.

Immigration to Canada by country

According to the most recent census, India was the most common country of birth for foreign born people in Canada, followed closely by China. Looking ahead, India looks likely to consolidate its position with around one quarter of new Canadian immigrants in 2019 coming from the country.

Interesting statistics

In the following 4 chapters, you will quickly find the 27 most important statistics relating to "Immigration in Canada".


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