Thinking about immigrating to Canada? Whether it’s the economic opportunities, the beautiful wilderness or the universal healthcare that’s calling your name, there are many reasons why so many people come to this country each year.
Discover who these immigrants are, where they come from, why Canada welcomes them, and how you can join them in moving to Canada.
Want to visit as a tourist before you make the decision to move? Get your Canada ETA visa here.
Why Does Canada Need Immigration?
Around 20% of the country’s population was born abroad. That’s 1 in 5 people!
Why does Canada accept so many immigrants? While there are many reasons, including generalised support for a multicultural society, it can also be boiled down to economics.
Along with many countries around the world, Canada has the problem of an ageing population. Due to a combination of a decreasing birth rate and increasing life expectancy, there are more older people in the country than there are children being born. This creates an imbalance in the workforce.
As older citizens reach retirement age and leave the workforce, younger workers must move in to replace them. However, there aren’t enough Canadian-born young people to fill in the gaps.
That’s one big reason international immigration is so important: to prevent labour shortages.
Growing the workforce helps grow the economy. Not only do immigrants provide companies with the human capital needed for the business to survive and grow, but they also become local consumers for the products and services the companies produce. Having more workers in the country also means more tax money to fund government programs like pension plans and healthcare.
Why Do Immigrants Come to Canada?
The Great White North attracts people from around the world. Here are some of the top reasons folks set their sights on this country:
- Economic Prosperity
As the world’s 10th largest economy, Canada is an affluent nation that draws many individuals looking for economic opportunities.
- Safety and Security
The country consistently ranks in the top 20 nations on the Global Peace Index, reflecting a safe and secure living environment.
(By comparison, its neighbour the United States does not make it into the top 100 on the same index.)
- Universal Healthcare
Residents enjoy a publicly funded, universal healthcare system that makes Canada a good place to live.
- Top-Quality Education
The country is regularly acknowledged for having one of the world’s best education systems, which many take into consideration for raising children. It is also home to several top-ranking universities for those pursuing a post-secondary degree.
- Inclusive Society
As the first country to adopt a multiculturalism policy back in 1971, Canada welcomes people from all different backgrounds and recognises that all cultures have value. There are no per-country quotas that limit certain nationalities.
Same-sex marriage was legalised in 2005 and is widely accepted as well.
How to Immigrate to Canada
Canada’s immigration policy covers 4 different types:
1. Economic Immigration
This category allows people to immigrate based on their past work experience. This is how most people move to Canada.There are programmes for skilled workers (such as Express Entry), business immigration (such as entrepreneur and investment programmes) and caregivers, as well as the Provincial Nominee Programme and others.
2. Family Immigration
The family reunification sponsorship programme allows Canadian citizens and permanent residents to sponsor their spouse, partner, children, parents and grandparents to become permanent residents. Other relatives may also qualify under certain conditions. This is the second most common avenue of immigration.
3. Refugees and Protected Persons
This category includes resettled refugees, who go through the screening process abroad before being issued a visa, and Canada asylum seekers who make their claim for asylum status after they arrive in the country, either at a port of entry or at an inland immigration office.
4. Humanitarian and Other
People who do not fit into the first 3 categories may be permitted entry at the government’s discretion.This may include cases in which the applicant can prove they have strong local ties and/or are already settled in the country. When applicable, the best interests of a child are also taken into consideration.
Each programme is explained in detail on the official government website.
Top 10 Countries for Immigration to Canada
Where do most of Canada’s immigrants come from? Let’s have a look.
Country of Citizenship
Number of New Immigrants
|9. South Korea
Source: Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, data from 2019
Let’s drill into the top 5 with a little more detail.
As you can see, India is the country most people migrate from. In fact, immigration to Canada from India has seen a large increase in recent years.
India is the country with the second-largest population worldwide, which makes for a great number of potential candidates. Furthermore, much of the country’s middle class has high levels of education, English language ability and skilled professional experience, which allow them to qualify for the Express Entry programme, a fast track for skilled workers.
Chinese immigration levels have remained more or less constant in recent years. China’s enormous population accounts for its consistently high numbers of immigrants, while the country’s relatively low number of English speakers keeps it far behind India.
Filipinos have come to the country in decreasing numbers in recent years as the number of people admitted under the Caregiver programme has been reduced.
Immigration to Canada from Nigeria is on the rise. As native English speakers, Nigerians have a distinct advantage when participating in the economic class programmes.
Immigration to Canada from the USA remains more or less stable, with occasional fluctuations. Although there is a decades-long tradition of Americans talking about moving up north to escape domestic politics, most don’t follow through. However, thousands of Americans do decide to make the move each year for a variety of reasons.
Where Do Most Immigrants Live in Canada?
Ontario is by far the province with the highest number of immigrants. This central province is home to famous cities like Toronto, Ottawa, Waterloo, Niagara Falls, and London (not that London!) There are also large immigrant populations in Quebec, British Columbia and Alberta.
Some of Canada’s most multicultural cities are:
- Toronto – also known as the most multicultural city in the world!
- Vancouver – where mountains meet the ocean. Almost half the population speaks a language other than English.
- Calgary – one of the world’s cleanest cities, located in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains.
- Montreal – the cultural capital, known as the city of festivals. The official language is French, which you can learn during the cold, snowy winters!
- Ottawa – a small-town feel with big-city opportunities.Frequently Asked Questions
There are still some questions you may need answered before you are ready to hop on the next plane and help populate the world’s second-largest country!
How Many Immigrants Does Canada Accept Each Year?
In recent times, Canada has accepted around 30,000 immigrants each year, although the exact number varies from year to year. The government sets annual targets for each of the 4 categories (economic, family, refugees and protected persons, and humanitarian and other) to control the number of people accepted in each category.
How Do You Apply for Immigration to Canada?
There are several different programmes available, depending on your personal background. For example, there are special applications if you are a skilled worker, a refugee, a founder of a start-up business, a self-employed worker, and more. Each programme has its own application process. You can learn more about all the different programmes on the official government website. Also, learn more in our article about how to immigrate to Canada with express entry.
How Do You Show Proof of Funds?
Generally speaking, you need to arrange official letters from banks or other financial organisations where you have money. The letters should describe all your bank and investments accounts as well as any debts you have, including loans and credit card debts.
However, whether or not you are required to demonstrate you have sufficient funds, as well as the amount you need to show, depends on the type of programme you are applying for. It can also vary depending on if you plan on bringing your spouse and/or dependent children. Check the requirements for your specific programme.
Is There Illegal Immigration to Canada?
While some undocumented migrants do manage to enter the country, geography makes this much less of a problem than in many other countries. Not only is it mostly surrounded by water, but the nearest landmass by sea is also a long, long journey away. That means travellers from most areas of the world have to fly in, and they are easily screened at the airport or even before boarding. However, the land border with the United States does present some challenges.
Is There an Age Limit for Immigrants to Canada?
You will not be denied permanent residence solely based on your age, even if you are over 50. However, in some programmes, your age can influence your application. For example, in the Express Entry programme, candidates between the ages of 21 and 29 are awarded the most points. But there are lots of other ways to earn points that are not tied to how old you are, so don’t let your age stop you from applying.