Understanding Immigration to Canada

The least precarious immigration status in Canada is that of citizen, following which is permanent resident. In recent years, we have seen the government even attacking permanent residents, as permanent residents who are convicted of a crime can lose their permanent residency. As such, it is crucial for all permanent residents to get citizenship as soon as they are eligible.Slide1-big

There are many routes through which one can become a permanent resident in Canada.

Economic Immigrants
This is the mechanism through which the government accepts those individuals felt to have education, financial assets or skills the government desires. This group includes skilled workers, those who are self-employed, those who are provincial or territorial nominees, live-in caregivers who have met conditions to apply for permanent residency and been accepted, investors, those in the Canadian experience class and entrepreneurs. In 2012, 160,819 people came into Canada as economic immigrants.

Accepted H&C claimants
Humanitarian and Compassionate claims are put in by those individuals who may have been in Canada for a number of years without status, have a family and a life in Canada. While the claim is active, the individual has no official status until the claim is accepted. In 2012, humanitarian and compassionate claims were accepted for 2,982 individuals

Family Class
Those who come along with economic immigrants but are accepted on the basis of the education and assets of the primary applicants are part of the family class. In 2012, 65,008 individuals came to Canada under this designation.

There are several groups that arrive in Canada having been pre-selected as refugees. This means that when they arrive they have both refugee status and permanent resident status. Government-assisted refugees are usually selected in refugee camps. Privately-sponsored refugees are sponsored by groups and organizations, such as faith-based institutions. Accepted refugee claimants are those who made a claim upon arrival, went through the process, and were deemed refugees based on the Immigration Refugee Board. In 2012, Canada had 23,094 new refugees. 





Temporary status migrants include visitors (71,759 in 2012), foreign students (104,810 in 2012), temporary foreign workers (213,573 in 2012) and refugee claimants (20,461 in 2012). The numbers of temporary foreign workers entering Canada each year have been steadily increasing over the past decade, having now surpassed the number of permanent residents that enter Canada. These include live-in caregivers which comprise child care workers and those caring for the elderly, largely women from the Philippines. Live-in caregivers live in the home of their employer leaving them open to abuse and in extremely precarious situations. After living and working for many years and meeting certain conditions, live-in caregivers do have a path to permanent residency. Seasonal agricultural workers are typically men, many from Mexico and the Caribbean, and they do not have a path to permanent residency. Refugee claimants are individuals who have arrived in Canada and made a refugee claim on the basis of persecution in their country of origin. Bill C-31 has created a two-tier refugee system in which individuals coming from certain “Designated Countries of Origin”* go through a fast-tracked system with shorter timelines, basically no access to healthcare and no access to appeals. Those deemed to be “Designated Foreign Nationals” are detained against their will effectively for at least 6 months, not permitted to leave Canada for 5 years, and cannot apply for PR for 5 years.  In 2012, Canada received 20,461 refugee claimants.



Individuals who are non-status or undocumented are the most precarious. They can be deported at any time and live in the fear of deportation. Even those who put in an application for inland immigration sponsorship or humanitarian and compassionate claim are still nonstatus, and can be deported, while their claim is pending.


*Designated Countries of Origin:
Australia, Austria, Belgium, Chile, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany. Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel (excludes Gaza and the West Bank), Italy, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, United States of America