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|This article is part of a series|
|Immigration to Canada
History of immigration to Canada
Economic impact of immigration
Canadian immigration and refugee law
Immigration Act, 1976
Immigration and Refugee Protection Act
Permanent Resident Card
|Canadian nationality law|
|History of nationality law
Citizenship Act 1946
Oath of Citizenship
|Citizenship and Immigration Canada
"Canadians of convenience"
|Demographics of Canada|
Population by year
Immigration to Canada is the process by which people migrate to Canada to reside in the country. The majority of these individuals become Canadian citizens. After 1947, domestic immigration law and policy went through major changes, most notably with the Immigration Act, 1976, and the current Immigration and Refugee Protection Act from 2002. Canadian immigration policies are still evolving. As recent as in 2008, Citizenship and Immigration Canada has made significant changes to streamline the steady flow of immigrants. The changes included reduced professional categories for skilled immigration as well as caps for immigrants in various categories. Since 2001, immigration has ranged between 221,352 and 262,236 immigrants per annum.
In Canada there are four categories of immigrants: family class (closely related persons of Canadian residents living in Canada), economic immigrants (skilled workers and business people), other (people accepted as immigrants for humanitarian or compassionate reasons) and refugees (people who are escaping persecution, torture or cruel and unusual punishment).
Currently, Canada is known as a country with a broad immigration policy which is reflected in Canada's ethnic diversity. According to the 2001 census by Statistics Canada, Canada has 33 ethnic groups with at least one hundred thousand members each, of which 10 have over 1,000,000 people and numerous others represented in smaller amounts. 16.2% of the population belonged to visible minorities: most numerous among these are South Asian (4.0% of the population), Chinese (3.9%), Black descent (2.5%), and Filipino (1.3%). Other than Canadians of British, Irish, or French descent there are more members of Ethnic groups not classified as visible minorities than this 16.2%; the largest are: German (10.18%), and Italian (4.63%), with 3.87% being Ukrainian, 3.87% being Dutch, and 3.15% being Polish. Other minority ethnic origins include Russian (1.60%), Norwegian (1.38%), Portuguese (1.32%), and Swedish (1.07%). ("North American Indians", a group which may include migrants of indigenous origin from the United States and Mexico but which for the most part are not considered immigrants, comprise 4.01% of the national population.) One of the major issues immigrant groups faces upon arrival to Canada are ethnic penalties.
After the initial period of British and French colonization, four major waves (or peaks) of immigration and settlement of non-aboriginal peoples took place over a period of almost two centuries. The fifth wave is currently ongoing.
The first wave of significant, non-aboriginal immigration to Canada occurred over almost two centuries with slow but progressive French settlement of Quebec and Acadia with smaller numbers of American and European entrepreneurs in addition to British military personnel. This wave culminated with the influx of 46–50,000 British Loyalists fleeing the American Revolution, chiefly from the Mid-Atlantic States mostly into what is today Southern Ontario, the Eastern Townships of Quebec, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. A second wave of 30,000 Americans settled in Ontario between the late 1780s and 1812 with promises of land. Scottish Highlanders from land clearances also became landers in Canada during this period.
The second wave from Britain and Ireland was encouraged to settle in Canada after the War of 1812, and included British army regulars who had served in the war. The colonial governors of Canada, who were worried about another American invasion attempt and to counter the French-speaking influence of Quebec, rushed to promote settlement in back country areas along newly constructed plank roads within organized land tracts, mostly in Upper Canada (present-day Ontario). With the second wave Irish immigration to Canada had been increasing and peaked when the Irish Potato Famine occurred from 1846 to 1849 resulting in hundreds of thousands more Irish arriving on Canada's shores, although a significant portion migrated to the United States either in the short-term or over the subsequent decades.
The Dominion Lands Act of 1872 copied the American system by offering ownership of 160 acres of land free (except for a small registration fee) to any man over 18 or any woman heading a household. They need not be citizens, but had to live on the plot and improve it.
Also during this period, Canada became a port of entry for many Europeans seeking to gain entry into the U.S. Canadian transportation companies advertised Canadian ports as a hassle-free way to enter the U.S. especially as the U.S. began barring entry to certain ethnicities. The U.S. and Canada mitigated this situation in 1894 with the Canadian Agreement which allowed for U.S. immigration officials to inspect ships landing at Canadian ports for immigrants excluded from the U.S. If found, the transporting companies were responsible for shipping the persons back.
Clifford Sifton, minister of the Interior in Ottawa, 1896–1905, argued that the free western lands were ideal for growing wheat and would attract large numbers of hard-working farmers. He removed obstacles that included control of the lands by companies or organizations that did little to encourage settlement. Land companies, the Hudson's Bay Company, and school lands all accounted for large tracts of excellent land. The railways kept closed even larger tracts because they were reluctant to take legal title to the even-numbered lands they were due, thus blocking sale of odd-numbered tracts. Sifton broke the legal log jam, and set up aggressive advertising campaigns in the U.S. and Europe, with a host of agents promoting the Canadian west. He also brokered deals with ethnic groups that wanted large tracts for homogeneous settlement. His goal was to maximize immigration from Britain, eastern Canada and the U.S.
The third wave of immigration coming mostly from continental Europe peaked prior to World War I, between 1911–1913 (over 400,000 in 1912) and the fourth wave also from that same continent in 1957 (282,000), making Canada a more multiethnic country with substantial non-English or -French speaking populations. For example, Ukrainian Canadians account for the largest Ukrainian population outside Ukraine and Russia. Periods of lowered immigration have also occurred, especially during the First World War and the Second World War, in addition to the Great Depression.
Immigration since the 1970s has overwhelmingly been of visible minorities from the developing world. This was largely influenced in 1967 when the Immigration Act was revised and this continued to be official government policy. During the Mulroney government, immigration levels were increased. By the late 1980s, the fifth wave of immigration has maintained with slight fluctuations since (225,000–275,000 annually). Currently, most immigrants come from South Asia and China and this trend is expected to continue.
Prior to 1885, restrictions on immigration were imposed mostly in response to large waves of immigration rather than planned policy decisions, but not specifically targeted at one group or ethnicity, at least as official policy. Then came the introduction of the first Chinese Head Tax legislation passed in 1885, which was in response to a growing number of Chinese working on the Canadian Pacific Railway. Subsequent increases in the head tax in 1900 and 1903 limited Chinese entrants to Canada. In 1923 the government passed the Chinese Immigration Act which excluded Chinese from entering Canada altogether between 1923 and 1947. For discriminating against Chinese immigrants in past periods, an official government apology and compensations were announced on 22 June 2006.
Canadian citizenship was originally created under the Immigration Act, 1910, to designate those British subjects who were domiciled in Canada. All other British subjects required permission to land. A separate status of "Canadian national" was created under the Canadian Nationals Act, 1921, which was defined as being a Canadian citizen as defined above, their wives, and any children (fathered by such citizens) that had not yet landed in Canada. After the passage of the Statute of Westminster in 1931, the monarchy ceased to be an exclusively British institution. Because of this Canadians, and others living in countries that became known as Commonwealth realms, were known as subjects of the Crown. However in legal documents the term "British subject" continued to be used.
Canada was the first nation in the then British Commonwealth to establish its own nationality law in 1946, with the enactment of the Canadian Citizenship Act 1946. This took effect on January 1, 1947. In order to acquire Canadian citizenship on January 1, 1947, one generally had to be a British subject on that date, an Indian or Eskimo, or had been admitted to Canada as landed immigrants before that date. The phrase British subject refers in general to anyone from the United Kingdom, its colonies at the time, or a Commonwealth country. Acquisition and loss of British subject status before 1947 was determined by United Kingdom law (see History of British nationality law).
On 15 February 1977, Canada removed restrictions on dual citizenship. Many of the provisions to acquire or lose Canadian citizenship that existed under the 1946 legislation were repealed. Canadian citizens are in general no longer subject to involuntary loss of citizenship, barring revocation on the grounds of immigration fraud.
Emigration from Canada to the United States has historically exceeded immigration, but there were short periods where the reverse was true; for example, the Loyalist refugees; during the various British Columbia gold rushes and later the Klondike Gold Rush which saw many American prospectors inhabiting British Columbia and the Yukon; land settlers moving from the Northern Plains to the Prairies in the early 20th century and also during periods of political turmoil and/or during wars, for example the Vietnam War. In recent years, the emigration from Canada to the U.S. is very small in numbers compared to immigrants coming to Canada. However, in an interesting turn of events, between 2009 and 2011, Canada has experienced a 200% increase in immigrants moving from the U.S. to Canada due to the thriving Canadian economy and stable political and banking landscape.
In 2001, 250,640 people immigrated to Canada, relative to a total population of 30,007,094 people per the 2001 Census. On a compounded basis, that immigration rate represents 8.7% population growth over 10 years, or 23.1% over 25 years (or 6.9 million people). Since 2001, immigration has ranged between 221,352 and 262,236 immigrants per annum. The three main official reasons given for the high level of immigration are:
The level of immigration peaked in 1993 in the last year of the Progressive Conservative government and was maintained by Liberal Party of Canada. Ambitious targets of an annual 1% per capita immigration rate were hampered by financial constraints. The Liberals committed to raising actual immigration levels further in 2005. All political parties are now cautious about criticizing the high level of immigration.
Immigrant population growth is concentrated in or near large cities (particularly Vancouver, Toronto, and Montreal). These cities are experiencing increased services demands that accompany strong population growth, causing concern about the capability of infrastructure in those cities to handle the influx. For example, a Toronto Star article published on 14 July 2006 authored by Daniel Stoffman noted that 43% of immigrants move to the Greater Toronto Area and said "unless Canada cuts immigrant numbers, our major cities will not be able to maintain their social and physical infrastructures". Most of the provinces that do not have one of those destination cities have implemented strategies to try to boost their share of immigration.
According to Citizenship and Immigration Canada, under the Canada-Quebec Accord of 1991, Quebec has sole responsibility for selecting most immigrants destined to the province. Of course, once one they are granted citizenship, they can move from provinces to provinces like any other Canadian.
There are three main categories to Canadian immigration:
In 2010, Canada accepted 280,681 immigrants (permanent and temporary) of which 186,913 (67%) were Economic immigrants; 60,220 (22%) were Family class; 24,696 (9%) were Refugees; and 8,845 (2%) were Other.
Under Canadian nationality law an immigrant can apply for citizenship after living in Canada for 1095 days (3 years) in any 5-year period provided that they lived in Canada as a permanent resident for at least two of those years.
Canada receives its immigrant population from over 200 countries of origin.
|8||United Kingdom and Colonies||6,365||2.5|
|Top 10 Total||145,926||56.6|
Statistics Canada projects that, by 2031, almost one-half of the population over the age of 15 will be foreign-born or have at least one foreign-born parent. The number of visible minorities will double and make up the majority of the population of cities in Canada.
|Rank||Country of birth||Population||Portion of immigrants in Canada||Portion of Canadian population||Notes|
|2||United Kingdom||579,620||9.4%||1.9%||The official name is 'United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland'. It includes England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales.|
|3||China||466,940||7.5%||1.5%||The official name is 'People's Republic of China'. These figures exclude the special administrative regions of Hong Kong and Macau, which are included separately in this table.|
|7||United States||250,535||4%||0.8%||The official name is 'United States of America'.|
|8||Hong Kong||215,430||3.5%||0.7%||Special administrative region of the People's Republic of China.|
|17||South Korea||98,395||1.6%||0.3%||The official name is 'Republic of Korea'.|
|24||Trinidad and Tobago||65,540||1.1%||0.2%|
|25||Taiwan||65,205||1.1%||0.2%||The official name is 'Republic of China'.|
|29||Mexico||49,925||0.8%||0.2%||The official name is 'United States of Mexico'.|
|37||Yugoslavia, n.o.s.||37,205||0.6%||0.1%||The abbreviation 'n.o.s.' means 'not otherwise specified'. Includes immigrants from the former Yugoslavia who did not state which former Yugoslav country they were born in. At the time of the Canada 2006 Census, the countries that had been part of Yugoslavia included Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, Serbia and Montenegro, and Slovenia.|
|42||Bosnia and Herzegovina||28,730||0.5%||0.1%|
|44||Serbia and Montenegro||25,465||0.4%||0.1%||Now divided into Kosovo, Montenegro, and Serbia.|
|47||Ireland||22,370||0.4%||0.1%||The official name is 'Republic of Ireland'.|
|63||Australia||18,165||0.3%||0.1%||Includes Norfolk Island.|
|65||Denmark||17,360||0.3%||0.1%||Includes the Faroe Islands.|
|73||Democratic Republic of the Congo||14,125||0.2%||0%|
|75||Sudan||12,590||0.2%||0%||Now divided into Sudan and South Sudan.|
|85||United Arab Emirates||9,865||0.2%||0%|
|89||New Zealand||9,415||0.2%||0%||Includes Niue and Tokelau.|
|92||St. Vincent and the Grenadines||8,795||0.1%||0%|
|107||Palestine||6,200||0.1%||0%||Composed of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.|
|109||Macau||6,005||0.1%||0%||Special administrative region of the People's Republic of China.|
|114||Myanmar||4,800||0.1%||0%||Formerly known as Burma.|
|131||St. Kitts and Nevis||2,370||0%||0%|
|132||Antigua and Barbuda||2,340||0%||0%|
|133||Ivory Coast||2,305||0%||0%||Also known as Côte d'Ivoire.|
|135||Soviet Union, n.o.s.||2,220||0%||0%||The abbreviation 'n.o.s.' means 'not otherwise specified'. The official name of the country was 'Union of Soviet Socialist Republics'. Includes immigrants from the former Soviet Union who did not state which former Soviet country they were born in. As of the Canada 2006 Census, the countries that were once part of the Soviet Union include Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Estonia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan.|
|138||Czechoslovakia, n.o.s.||2,080||0%||0%||The abbreviation 'n.o.s.' means 'not otherwise specified'. Includes immigrants from the former Czechoslovakia who did not state which former Czechoslovak country they were born in. As of the Canada 2006 Census, the countries that were once part of Czechoslovakia include the Czech Republic and Slovakia.|
|158||Republic of the Congo||630||0%||0%|
|166||Netherlands Antilles||500||0%||0%||Now divided into Bonaire, Curaçao, Saba, St. Eustatius, and St. Maarten. At one time it also included Aruba.|
|170||St. Pierre and Miquelon||375||0%||0%|
|176||Papua New Guinea||275||0%||0%|
|181||North Korea||165||0%||0%||The official name is 'Democratic People's Republic of Korea'.|
|182||Central African Republic||160||0%||0%|
|190||British Virgin Islands||60||0%||0%|
|192||Federated States of Micronesia||45||0%||0%|
|192||Turks and Caicos Islands||45||0%||0%|
|198||East Timor||15||0%||0%||Also known as Timor-Leste.|
|198||St. Helena and Dependencies||15||0%||0%||Now known as St. Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha.|
|199||United States Virgin Islands||10||0%||0%|
|199||Wallis and Futuna||10||0%||0%|
|Others||6,220||0.1%||0%||Includes a small number of immigrants who were born in Canada, as well as other places of birth not classified elsewhere.|
|Number of immigrants granted permanent residence in Canada in 2011 by source country|
|Rank||Country||Number of immigrants admitted||Proportion of total||Notes|
|2||China||28,696||11.5%||Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan included separately.|
|10||United Arab Emirates||5,223||2.1%|
|28||Israel||1,967||0.8%||Does not include the Gaza Strip, the Golan Heights, or the West Bank.|
|45||Democratic Republic of the Congo||1,058||0.4%|
|52||Hong Kong||820||0.3%||Special administrative region of the People's Republic of China.|
|61||Trinidad and Tobago||615||0.2%|
|70||Sudan||488||0.2%||Now divided into Sudan and South Sudan.|
|76||St. Vincent and the Grenadines||447||0.2%|
|92||Palestine||261||0.1%||Includes the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.|
|103||Bosnia and Herzegovina||178||0.1%|
|129||Republic of the Congo||79||0%|
|140||Antigua and Barbuda||43||0%|
|147||Macau||29||0%||Special administrative region of the People's Republic of China.|
|150||Serbia and Montenegro||25||0%||Now divided into Kosovo, Montenegro, and Serbia. This figure does not include Kosovo.|
|155||St. Kitts and Nevis||14||0%|
|156||Central African Republic||12||0%|
|159||Tibet||0||0%||Autonomous region of the People's Republic of China.|
|Country not stated||58||0%|
Several families have recently been denied immigration to Canada because members of their family have an autism spectrum diagnosis and Citizenship and Immigration Canada felt the potential cost of care for those family members would place an excessive demand on health or social services. People with autism disorders can be accepted if they're able to depend on themselves.
In 2012 more than two hundred thousand people were admitted to Canada under the 
Estimates of illegal immigrants range between 35,000 and 120,000. James Bissett, a former head of the Canadian Immigration Service, has suggested that the lack of any credible refugee screening process, combined with a high likelihood of ignoring any deportation orders, has resulted in tens of thousands of outstanding warrants for the arrest of rejected refugee claimants, with little attempt at enforcement. A 2008 report by the Auditor General Sheila Fraser stated that Canada has lost track of as many as 41,000 illegal immigrants.