Longitudinal Immigration Database (IMDB) Technical Report, 2019
1 Introduction

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The Longitudinal Immigration Database (IMDB) is a comprehensive source of data that plays a key role in the understanding of the economic behaviour of immigrants. It is the only annual Canadian dataset that allows users to study the characteristics of immigrants to Canada at the time of admission and their economic outcomes and regional (inter-provincial) mobility over a time span of more than 35 years.

The IMDB combines administrative files on immigrant admissions and non-permanent resident permits from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship CanadaNote (IRCC) with tax files from the Canadian Revenue Agency (CRA).

IRCC administrative records contain exhaustive information about immigrants who were admitted to Canada since 1952 and non-permanent residents issued permits since 1980. Tax records for 1982 and subsequent years are available for taxfilers.

The IMDB was designed to provide detailed and reliable data on the performance and impact of immigration programs. Being a database of immigrants and non-permanent residents (both taxfilers and non-taxfilers alike), the IMDB can be used to answer both broad and very specific research. The database also provides information on pre-admission experience, such as work or study permits. Its major strength is that it allows for the analysis of socio-economic outcomes over a period long enough to assess the impact of immigrant characteristics upon admission, including admission category, education, and knowledge of French or English, on outcomes. Moreover, annual information on place of residence allows for the investigation of secondary migration (immigrants’ subsequent relocation in Canada). It is to be noted that yearly updates of the IMDB are independent from one another. From year to year, there have been changes to data processing, including updates to the unique person identifier (IMDB_ID). 

As created, the IMDB includes multiple files: one file for each tax year since 1982 (e.g. IMDB_T1FF_2018), two files containing immigration characteristics at the person level (e.g. PNRF_1952_1979 and PNRF_1980_2019), one permit file for non-permanent residents (NRF_PERMIT_1980_2019), and the NRF_PERSON_1980_2019, which includes summary information at the person level for non-permanent residents. The IMDB is updated annually via record linkage techniques described in this report. Each year an additional tax year is added, and new admission and non-permanent resident permit data are added to the database.

Recently, the content of the IMDB has been expanded. The IMDB now includes citizenship acquisition since 2005, as well as express entry data.  There have been several new modules integrated into the IMDB: wages, children, and settlement. As well, there has been a file structure change- the taxfilers and the non-taxfilers were merged in one file called PNRF_1980_2019. Non-taxfilers can be filtered by using the FIRST_TAX_YEAR variable.

The IMDB files are available only to the members of the Research Data Centres (RDC), Statistics Canada researchers and deemed employees. This is to ensure that proper confidentiality measures are taken to protect privacy and ensure confidentiality. Information from the IMDB is available to the public through annual aggregated summary tables produced and published by Statistics Canada. Additionally, external researchers may request ad hoc tables and analyses; Statistics Canada provides these services on a cost-recovery basis.

This report will discuss the IMDB data sources (Section 2), concepts and variables (Section 3), record linkage (Section 4), data processing (Section 5), dissemination (Section 6), data evaluation and quality indicators (Section 7), comparability with other immigration datasets (Section 8), and the analyses that are possible with the IMDB (Section 9).

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