Longitudinal Immigration Database (IMDB) Technical Report, 2019
3 Concepts and variables

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3.1 Immigrant status in Canada

The IMDB provides data on a subset of the immigrant population as described in Section 2. The following are the Statistics Canada definitions of the terms “immigrant” and “non-permanent resident.”

The term “immigrant” refers to persons who are, or who have been at any time, landed immigrants or permanent residents. Such persons have been granted the right to live in Canada permanently by immigration authorities. Immigrants who have obtained Canadian citizenship by naturalization are included in this category.

Non-permanent residents” are not considered immigrants, although they are a population of interest for the IMDB as described in Section 2. In the IMDB, the term “non-permanent resident” refers to persons from another country who have a work or study permit or who are refugee claimants. They are allowed to be in Canada for the period of time indicated on their permit.

3.1.1 Immigration to Canada: An overview

A Canadian Megatrends article, 150 Years of Immigration in CanadaNote 1, released in 2016, summarizes the fluctuation in immigration levels and source countries over the past century. Migration to Canada has been continuous since the country’s foundation. More than 17 million immigrants have settled in Canada since 1867. The number of landed immigrants has been increasing from the low 200,000s in the 1990s to over 250,000 in the early 2010s. The proportion of Canadians who are foreign-born has increased from 14.7% in 1951 (2.06 million people) to 21.9% in 2011 (7.5 million people).

As per section 95 of the Constitution Act, 1867 federal and provincial governments have shared jurisdiction over immigration. Additional guidelines are set out in the 2002 Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) Note 2, which provides the goals and strategic direction for immigration policy adopted by the Government of Canada and administered in part by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). Prior to 2002, the Immigration Act, 1976 served as the primary legislation regulating Canadian immigration.

Under IRPA, the Government of Canada is in charge of “establishing admission requirements, setting national immigration levels, defining immigration categories, determining refugee claims within Canada, reuniting families and establishing eligibility criteria for settlement programsNote 3” in all provinces and territories except Quebec. The province of Quebec has full responsibility of its immigration levels, programs, and policies under the Canada-Quebec Accord Relating to Immigration and Temporary Admission of Aliens. However, the federalgovernment continues to select and process immigrants sponsored by family and protected persons in Canada and refugee claimants to QuebecNote 2.

Permanent residents are defined as “persons who have been admitted to live in Canada on a permanent basis and who have the right to work and study in Canada, but have not become Canadian citizens.”Note 3 Under IRPA, there are three overarching categories of immigrants: economic immigrants, family members, and refugees.

Permanent residents are eligible to become citizens of Canada when they meet certain requirements. The first is a residency requirement, whereby the permanent resident must have been physically in Canada for a set period of time. Permanent residents must also be older than 18 years of age; in the case of minors, the application must be made simultaneously (concurrent) with one or both parents or after one or both parents have become a Canadian citizen (non-concurrent). Permanent residents must have fulfilled their tax filing obligations to Canada. Permanent residents aged 14 to 64 years must also show proof of proficiency in at least one of Canada’s official languages and must pass a citizenship test (IRCC 2016; Government of Canada 2016).

The IRPA stipulates that all foreign nationals, except permanent residents, who enter Canada must have a temporary resident visa. Temporary resident visas are issued to workers and students “in a way that maximizes their contribution to Canada’s economic, social and cultural development and protects the health, safety and security of Canadians” (IRCC 2015, p. 7). Non-permanent residents are able to apply for permanent residency through different programs, and may have an advantage over applicants abroad if they have Canadian education credentials and / or work experience.

As regards refugee claimants, “the Refugee Protection Division (RPD) is the division of the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB) that hears claims for refugee protection made in Canada and decides whether to accept them” (IRB 2015). In the IMDB, these claimants are classified as non-permanent residents with a refugee claimant permit.

3.2 Target population and coverage period

The IMDB is a database that includes:

The database also provides information on permits for immigrants who were non-permanent residents prior to their admission as permanent residents.

The T1FF covers “all persons who completed a T1 tax return for the year of reference or who received CCTB (Canada Child Tax Benefits), their non-filing spouses (including wage and salary information from the T4 file), their non-filing children identified from three sources (the CCTB file, the births files, and an historical file) and filing children who reported the same address as their parent”. Family information is created based on a census family concept: parent(s) and children living at the same address (Statistics Canada 2019).

The IMDB brings together, via probabilistic record linkage (Section 4), administrative data from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) and the tax files from the T1 Family File (T1FF).

Figure 1 Source of IMDB Conent

Description for Figure 1

Socio demographic information is available at admission for immigrants or for non-permanent residents

The IMDB is made up jointly of Immigration Administrative Data, as well as Longitudinal Tax Data and Other Administrative Data.

Immigration files have been greatly enhanced to respond to users’ needs:

  • Settlement service data
  • Citizenship acquisition date
  • Temporary resident permits for international students, temporary foreign workers and asylum claimants
  • Syrian refugee flag
  • Express entry points (selection characteristics of economic immigrants)

Tax files have also been enhanced:
Wages and salaries (derived from T4) – more timely data (2017 wages data available now for 2016 IMDB)

Children family data from T1FF – allows analysis of immigrant families and intergenerational economic mobility

Note: See glossary of terms for definitions of acronyms. The source for this figure is Statistics Canada.

3.3 Admission variables

Immigrants are admitted into Canada under a number of programs, each of which has specific objectives. These programs specify the conditions under which immigrants are admitted into the country and the type of settlement assistance they may receive. Consequently, analyses that guide public policy should usually take this information into consideration. To answer a variety of research questions, the IMDB comprises a number of variables related to the admission of immigrants, which are all derived from two main concepts: admission category and type of applicant.

3.3.1 Admission category

The admission category refers to the name of the immigration program or group of programs under which an immigrant was first granted the right to live in Canada permanently by immigration officials since 1980. Over the years, immigrants have been admitted into the country under several dozen different programs. In an effort to make these data easier to use, the IMDB provides users with a number of variables that comprise aggregate programs with similar objectives. The highest level of aggregation is based on the three main objectives of Canada’s immigration policy: contribute to the country’s economic development, reunite families, and protect refugees.

Classification of admission category of immigrant

Figure 2 Admission Category Classification

Description for Figure 2

Figure 2 is a summary of the Admission Category Classification of Immigrants. Immigrants are broken into 4 categories: economic immigrants, immigrants, sponsored by family, refugee, and Other immigrants. From economic immigrants, you can enter through worker programs, business programs or provincial and territorial nominee. Immigrant sponsored by family can be given permanent resident status on account of their relationship as spouse, partner, parent, grandparent, or child. Refugees include Protected persons in Canada or dependents abroad or Resettled refugees. Other immigrant would include Public policy or humanitarian and compassionate case or other immigrant who is not included elsewhere.

Note: See glossary of terms for definitions of acronyms. The source for this figure is Statistics Canada. Economic immigrants

The purpose of admitting economic immigrants is to help achieve the first immigration policy objective stated above: contribute to the Canadian economy. Economic immigrants are covered under three main program groups: worker programs, business programs, and provincial and territorial nominee programs.

Economic immigrant

Immigrants selected for their ability to participate in the labour market are admitted under worker programs.

Once their skills and professional experience have been evaluated, they are divided into four main categories:

  1. Skilled workers selected based on their skills and experience working in management or professional positions, in technical jobs, or in skilled trades.
  2. Skilled tradespeople selected based specifically on their skills and work experience in an eligible skilled trade. This category differs from the skilled workers category as applicants are required to have a valid offer of employment from a Canadian employer or a certificate of qualification from a Canadian provincial or territorial organization.
  3. Immigrants admitted under the Canadian Experience Class differ from the two first groups in that they are required to have work experience in Canada acquired in a managerial or professional position, a technical job, or a skilled trade.
  4. Live-in caregivers and caregivers can obtain permanent resident status if they have provided in-home care in Canada for a given period to children or people with special needs such as the elderly, people with a physical handicap, or someone suffering from a chronic illness.
  5. Atlantic Immigration Pilot Program (Please see below for a short description)
  6. Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot (Please see below for a short description)

Atlantic Immigration Pilot Project

This program helps to find skilled immigrants to immigrate to Atlantic Canada to fill positions that have not already been filled locally. It is an employer-driven programme, meaning that the employers are demanding foreign skilled workers because there is a need for stable skilled foreign workforce in Atlantic Canada. This is path (gateway) to permanent residency for international graduates and for skilled foreign workers wanting to live in one of Canada’s four Atlantic Provinces.

It is also open to international graduates wanting to go Atlantic Canada upon their graduation. The candidate can be either living abroad or temporarily in Canada.

There are three sub-programs:
-Atlantic International Graduate Program
-Atlantic High-skilled Program
-Atlantic Intermediate-skilled Program

In order to participate in the aforementioned program requirements must be met, both on the end of the employer as well the candidate.

Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot

The aim of the Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot is to spread the benefits of economic immigration to smaller communities by drawing skilled foreign workers who want to work and thrive in rural communities. Unlike the Atlantic Pilot Project, the Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot is a community-based approach. This means that communities as a whole apply to be hosts and are selected based on three major criteria:
-Whether there is the economic need for immigration
-Whether the resources and the community partners are there to be put into the project
-Whether the federal government already has existing settlement partners and resources in the community

The purpose of the immigration programme is to help fill the local community’s labour market needs and support the region’s economic development. By welcoming and supporting immigrants, communities help to persuade them to stay in a smaller rural community.

Retention rates should be higher based on:
-Working with their community-based partners
-The involvement of other federal government partners
-The participation of the provincial and territorial governments

The community, as well the candidate, must reach the Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot program’s requirements in order to participate in the program.

Economic immigrants admitted into Canada under a business program are divided into three main categories:

  1. Entrepreneurs selected for their skills and their ability to either own and manage a business, or to establish an eligible business in Canada. Some have a minimum net worth, while others are required to have the backing of a designated organization for their business idea.
  2. Investors given permanent resident status provided they make a significant investment in Canada. These investments are allocated to participating provinces and territories in order to stimulate economic development and create jobs.
  3. Self-employed workers who are given permanent resident status provided they have the ability—and the intention—to create their own job in Canada and to make a significant contribution to the Canadian economy. This is a broad category that also includes people who intend to make an important contribution to the country’s sporting or cultural landscape (i.e., as an artist, actor, writer, or professional athlete).

The final main category under which economic immigrants are admitted into Canada are provincial and territorial nominee programs. As the name implies, this category is for immigrants selected by a province or a territory for their ability to contribute to the local economy by meeting specific labour needs. They are assessed based on selection criteria relating to education, work experience, and their specific skills. All participating provinces and territories have their own selection criteria for their fields of interest (students, business people, skilled workers, or semi-skilled workers). Family sponsorship

The admission of immigrants sponsored by family members is intended to reunite families; this allows Canadian citizens and permanent residents to sponsor their relatives. Immigrants admitted under these programs can be given permanent resident status on account of their relationship as spouse, partner, parent, grandparent, or child.

Under certain conditions, immigrants admitted under these programs can also be sponsored by reason of another family relationships, such as young siblings, nieces and nephews, and orphaned grandchildren. Canadian citizens and permanent residents living in Canada can also sponsor someone on the basis of a relationship other than the ones listed above.

Finally, there are cases in which immigrants who would not otherwise have qualified under any other program were sponsored by a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident living in Canada, and who were exceptionally granted permanent resident status on humanitarian grounds.

For additional information Immigrant sponsored by family Refugees

The third and final objective of Canada’s immigration policy is the protection of refugees, or people who have a well-founded fear of returning to their country of origin. This category includes people who have good reason to fear persecution based on race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinions (refugees as defined by the Geneva Convention). It also includes people who have been seriously and personally affected by civil war, armed conflict or a massive violation of human rights. Some refugees were already in Canada when they applied for refugee status for themselves and for family members who were with them in Canada or abroad. Others were abroad and were referred for resettlement to Canada by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (HCR) or another referral organization. Referred immigrants receive resettlement support from government sources, organizations, individuals, or private sector groups, or combined support from the Government of Canada and private sector stakeholders.

For more information, please visit Refugees Other immigrants

In addition to the three key objectives listed above, Canada’s immigration policy gives immigration officials a certain degree of discretion to grant permanent resident status under a program for people who are neither economic immigrants, sponsored by a family member nor refugees. This program is for applicants such as immigrants who are exceptionally granted permanent resident status on humanitarian grounds or on the basis of public interest considerations.

For more information, please visit Other immigrants

3.3.2 Type of applicant

In addition to the admission category, the IMDB gives users access to information on applicant types. This information indicates whether the immigrant is listed as principal applicant, spouse or dependent on the application for a permanent resident visa.

As a general rule, information on the type of applicant is used for analyses to study economic immigrants. Since the principal applicants admitted under these programs are selected on the basis of their ability to contribute to the Canadian economy, it is helpful to separate them from their spouse and dependents, who were not assessed for this ability. Isolating principal applicants from other types of applicants makes it possible to study the efficiency of these programs more directly.

However, with regard to family reunification and refugee protection, the purpose of the immigration policy is the same for all applicants, regardless of type. In the case of immigrants admitted under these two objectives, the concept of “applicant type” takes on more of an administrative value.

This value is particularly pronounced for immigrants with principal applicant status, which does not systematically depend on the legal relationship between the applicants requesting permanent residence. For instance, for the “sponsored spouses and partners” admission category, the spouse is listed as the principal applicant, although “spouse” does not appear as the type of applicant on the application for residence. In addition, for the “sponsored children” admission category, principal applicant status is assigned to one of the children, while the others are listed as dependents. Finally, in certain circumstances, applications for permanent residence can be processed on two fronts: from Canada for the principal applicant and from abroad for the other family members. This type of process exists for live-in caregivers and protected persons in Canada. In these cases, a family member applying from abroad is given principal applicant status, even if he or she is the spouse of an immigrant whose application submitted in Canada has been previously approved.

3.3.3 Policy Changes over time

The IMDB contains over 35 years’ worth of data on immigrants admitted to the country. However, policies and programs have undergone many changes during this time. New programs have been created, others  abolished, and in some cases, selection and eligibility criteria were changed. Therefore, a person admitted as a skilled worker in 1980 was not necessarily assessed on the same criteria as a skilled worker admitted in 2000. Although every effort was made to create aggregate programs that are as similar as possible, IMDB users should be aware of these differences when drawing conclusions about various admission cohorts.

The most striking change implemented during the period covered by the IMDB is undoubtedly the replacement of the Immigration Act, 1976, by the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, which came into force in 2002. While both of these laws cover the same three key groups (economic immigrants, family sponsorship, and refugees), the administration of these programs has undergone many changes under these laws. In addition, program administration was also modified based on sociodemographic needs and priorities set by successive governments within these two legislative frameworks. As a result, it is strongly recommended that data users with an interest in a specific program or a number of admission cohorts find out more about policy and program changes relevant to their field of study.

It should be noted that it may take a few years for the impact of an administrative change to be observed in the database. For instance, when a new program is created, it may take several months or years from implementation (i.e., the date on which applicants can apply) to the time immigrants are first admitted into the country under the new program. The same can be said about abolished programs. There may well be a delay between the time when all the applications have been studied and all eligible applicants have entered the country, and the time when abolished programs vanish completely from the statistics on annual admissions.

3.3.4 PNRF admission category variables

A variety of admission category variables exist in the PNRF. These are described in the immigration component of the IMDB dictionary. This section provides additional information on some of these variables.

The most detailed is IMMIGRATION_CATEGORY, which includes over 100 categories that existed at any point from 1980 to the present IMDB. An aggregated version of the information available in the variable IMMIGRATION_ CATEGORY is available in the derived variable IMMIGRATION_CATEGORY_CENSUS, which contains fewer categories.

The aggregate variable IMMIGRATION_CATEGORY_CENSUS, is a categorization in line with Statistics Canada’s standard used in the Census of Population. However, it does not make clear that some immigrants were admitted through the Backlog Clearance and Administrative Review programs. These programs expedited the processing of immigrants in the late 1980s, in response to geopolitical crises abroad that affected temporary residents’ ability to return to their countries (e.g., Tiananmen Square protests and dissolution of the USSR and Yugoslavia). The result of not separating these categories is that these individuals, processed quickly and with distinctive criteria, are not comparable to other immigrants processed in the same categories. To identify immigrants admitted through these programs, users should refer to the variables BACKLOG_CLEARANCE_IND and ADMINISTRATIVE_REVIEW_IND (available in the PNRF_EXTRA, for landing years prior to 2014).

The user may also use the immigration aggregate information from the IMMIGRATION_CATEGORY_ROLLUP2, available in the PNRF_EXTRA for immigrants landed up to 2013. This variable was designed to provide consistent reporting across different policy / regulation changes (i.e., Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (2002) and Immigration Act, 1976) and to maintain specific immigration programs (i.e., skilled workers) over time. This variableoffers the detailed information on backlog clearance and administrative review. Detailed grouping information for derived variables is available in the IMDB immigration data dictionary.

Another consideration with the admission category variables is their relation to type of applicant (PNRF variable FAMILY_STATUS). As a general rule, the principal applicants are the individuals being assessed on admission criteria under each of the categories, while their accompanying spouse and dependents are admitted automatically with the principal applicant (although the spouse’s language skills can be an asset to economic category immigrants’ applications as well). In the rollup variable, some of the admission categories explicitly state whether they represent (1) principal applicants or (2) spouses and dependents, while other categories (i.e., Immigrant sponsored by family) must be cross-referenced with the FAMILY_STATUS variable to determine an individual’s status as a principal applicant or as a spouse / dependent.

Two categories constitute exceptions to the above: Live-in Caregiver Dependents and Refugee Dependents. When cross-referenced with FAMILY_STATUS_ROLLUP, these variables contain principal applicants as well as dependents. This can happen when the principal applicant is already in the country and his or her dependents submit a separate application for permanent residence from abroad. As each separate application must have a principal applicant, even a nominal one, one of the dependents (usually the spouse) is considered the “principal applicant” for the dependents’ application. There is, however, no difference in processing between the principal applicants, spouses, and dependents in these two admission categories.

3.4 Variables of interest

The IMDB is an extensive database, providing researchers with a myriad of variables to study outcomes related to immigrant characteristics and various long-term impacts. The number of variables exceeds 600 variables on the largest tax files (with roughly half at the individual level and half at the family level of aggregation). The Integrated Permanent and Non-permanent Resident File (PNRF) contains over 50 variables. While the exact definitions of these variables are covered in the immigration component of the IMDB dictionary, some of the more nuanced concepts warrant elaboration in this report. The following sections discuss geography, time, education and intended-occupation variables to provide further insight into the meaning and use of these variables. More detailed information on income variables can be found in the tax component of the IMDB dictionary. New variables were added to the 2016 IMDB, which include Syrian refugee resettlement waves (SYRIAN_RRW), Express Entry (EXPRESS_ENTRY_IND) and the year and month of citizenship (CITIZEN_YEAR and CITIZEN_MONTH).

Variables in the PNRF refer to immigrants’ characteristics at admission or upon reception of a temporary resident document, while variables in the tax files refer to characteristics at taxation year. Whereas some variables are available in both files, the taxation variables are subject to changes over time. For example, age is available in both files and is expected to change in the tax file each year. Immigrants’ marital status (MARITAL_STATUS) and destination province (DESTINATION_PROVINCE) upon application for permanent residence can also be different from the marital status (MSTCO) and province of residence (PRCO) when tax returns are filed. For variables not expected to change through time, the PNRF should be used for consistency.

3.4.1 Geography variables

The IMDB enables the study of immigrant taxfiler mobility and retention in Canada over time. It is to be noted that complete outmigration cannot be captured, as there is no requirement for immigrants or filers to declare that they have left, or will be leaving, the country. Both the PNRF and tax files contain various measures of geographic location that allow researchers to establish an intended destination at admission and subsequent area of residence for immigrants. In the PNRF, intended destination is measured at the provincial, census metropolitan area, census division, and census subdivision levels. These variables originate from a self-reported destination at admission on the immigration application. Unlike the T1FF geography variables, the landing file variables are available only for the geographies defined in the latest available census; this means that they reflect only the most recent census boundaries.

The other geography available on the landing file is province of nomination, available for provincial nominees. The province indicated is the one under whose criteria the applicant has been admitted; however, it does not necessarily correspond to the province-of-destination variable.

Under geographies of origin, the country variables on the  landing file indicate the individual’s country of birth, country of citizenship, and last residence at the time of admission. It should be noted that these geographies may not be comparable over time, as national boundaries change from year to year. Some examples include the dissolution of the USSR, Yugoslavia, and Czechoslovakia; the union of Sikkim and India and of Vietnam and North Vietnam; and the creation of South Sudan.

Some individuals in the  landing file report their country of birth as Canada. Normally, those who are born in Canada are granted citizenship at birth and do not need to apply for permanent residency. Those on the  landing file who are born in Canada are most likely individuals born to foreign diplomats while residing in Canada who later chose to apply for permanent resident status.

A number of geographic variables in the T1FF datasets refer to slightly different notions of geographical location from the landing file. The most detailed geography in the T1FF is available at the census tract level; it is derived from the postal code of the mailing address (PSCO_). The postal code generally indicates the address of residence at tax filing in the spring of the following year. The mailing address may also refer to a business, such as an accounting firm or a law firm, and is not necessarily the person’s current address. As a result, the province of residence on December 31 of the tax year (PRCO_) may not be the same as the province (PR__) derived from the mailing address. This distinction is important, as using the derived census geography variables (e.g. CMA, CSD) may not correspond to the province of residence on December 31 (PRCO_); however, it should correspond to the province code (PR__). The PRHO_ variable indicates an alternative to the mailing address and exists only for 2008 and subsequent years. Moreover, while the variable named taxing province code (TXPCO_) is, by definition, the same as the province of residence on December 31 (PRCO_), the taxing province code (TXPCO_) is less reliable (a known data quality issue exists with this variable, where both missing values and Newfoundland and Labrador are coded as “0”). For more information regarding the quality of geography variables please refer to Section 7.

Using the tax file variables to study geographic mobility amongst immigrants requires careful consideration of timing in making inferences about relocation and location of work. A researcher’s guide to studying mobility and retention is included in Appendix D.

3.4.2 Time variables

“Landing year” and “tax year” are time variables often used to produce tables and perform analyses using the IMDB. The  landing year is the year when the immigrant was granted permanent resident status, while the tax year is the tax filing year.

It is recommended that “landing year + 1” be counted as the first year of income, as it is the first full year in which the person will be in the country. Taxes filed in the year of landing  should be interpreted with caution. First, about 50% of each landing cohort first files taxes in the landing year (proportion based on taxfilers from integrated immigrants). Secondly, taxes filed in the same year as landing may not represent a full year of income. An individual who landed in October 2010 will have only three months of income to declare in the spring of 2011, while an individual who landed in January 2010 will have 12 months of income to declare.

It is also possible to see taxes filed for individuals after their year of death, for example, in cases where the deceased person’s relatives file taxes on his / her behalf. The variable Family Type (FCMP_) from the T1FF would be used in such cases. Please refer to the data dictionary for more details.

For example, Table 1 illustrates possible scenarios and describes which records should be included in a study to evaluate the socio-economic outcomes of the 1995-to-2000 immigrant cohort five years after landing. In order for a record to be included, the immigrant must have landed in any year from 1995 to 2000 and filed taxes five years after landing. This analysis would include the following IMDB records: IM19952 and IM19963.

Table 1
Example defining a cohort of interest
Table summary
This table displays the results of Example defining a cohort of interest. The information is grouped by IMDB_ID (appearing as row headers), Landing_Year, Available tax years and Included in scope of study (appearing as column headers).
IMDB_ID Landing_Year Available tax years Included in scope of study
IM19801 1980 1982 to 2013 No, landed prior to 1995
IM19952 1995 1988 to 2011 Yes
IM19963 1996 1996 to 2013 Yes
IM19974 1997 2010 to 2013 Yes, but no tax files available 5 years after landing
IM20095 2009 2011 to 2013 No, landed after 2000

One of the shortfalls of using administrative tax data is a lack of precision with respect to timing. Apart from the year for which taxes are declared, no timing variables exist in the T1FF. This presents difficulties for studying job and unemployment spells, timing of relocation, and marriage. It also makes it difficult to distinguish self-employed individuals who are also seasonal employees from those who concurrently earn income from both sources. Despite these limitations, decisions about timing can still be informed by keeping in mind the following considerations.

Since the previous year’s taxes are typically filed in the spring of the subsequent calendar year, some uncertainty may arise with respect to the specific year in which a change in address occurred. For example, Person A could file 2011 taxes with a mailing address in Toronto, and could then file his or her 2012 taxes with an Ottawa mailing address. It may be inferred that Person A lived in Toronto when filing 2011 taxes in the spring of 2012 and lived in Ottawa in the spring of 2013. Person A could have moved either in 2012, after filing the previous year’s taxes, or in the first few months of 2013 prior to filing his or her 2012 taxes. If Person A moved between provinces, the variable for the province of residence on December 31 (PRCO_) could be useful in narrowing down the year of the move, since it relates to this person’s province of residence as at December of the tax year. It should be noted that the mailing address does not necessarily correspond to the location of residence.

3.4.3 Education variables

Several variables in the landing file, such as years of schooling and education qualifications, allow education at landing to be measured. The former takes the form of a write-in answer to the question "How many years of formal education do you have?" The latter is phrased as "What is your highest level of completed education?" options are provided. The derived "Level of Education" variable combines information from the two.

Data quality issues were identified with these education variables since 2011. For example, a significant proportion of individuals in these years did not state their education qualifications or years of schooling and were coded as "0" ("None") on EDUCATION_QUALIFICATIONS and YEARS_OF_SCHOOLING instead of "Missing." In 2011, up to 35% of immigrants stated that they had no education qualifications, compared to roughly 10% in the 1990s. The education variables for 2011 to 2019 were imputed to resolve data quality issues. For more details on the imputation, see Section 7.3.

3.4.4 Intended-occupation variables

IRCC collects the intended occupation from the record of admission and assigns it a classification according to 2011 National Occupational Classification (NOC) codes in the landing file. These are broadest at the skill level, with a five-digit NOC codes being the most specific (see dictionary appendix for full definitions).

While intended occupation is also considered to be a good proxy of the individual’s source-country occupation, caution is recommended. In order to list a specific intended occupation, applicants must prove that they have obtained the necessary education qualifications, as well as at least one year of experience in the field. As a result, this is considered to be a conservative measure for the intended variable after arrival by IRCC, as these requirements are quite stringent. For example, students completing a degree in engineering cannot list their intended occupation as engineer (given their lack of work experience) and are instead classified as students. Additional variables such as labour market intention (LM_INTENTION) and skill level (SKILL_LEVEL) can be used to obtain information on an individual’s source-country field of work. Also, it should be noted that the intended occupation field is mandatory for principal applicant immigrants within the economic categories. For all other immigrants, this information may not be as reliable as a measure of their intended occupation.

3.4.5 Other IMDB variables

Only variables that require detailed explanation and can present the most difficulty for analysts were included in Section 3.4. For further details on the variables included in the IMDB, please refer to the IMDB dictionaries. The tax component describes the variables included in the IMDB_T1FF files while the immigration component describes the variables included in the other files. These dictionaries are available to data users, or can be obtained upon request by writing to Statistics Canada at STATCAN.infostats-infostats.STATCAN@canada.ca.

IMDB data users should be aware that data from the immigration files and the tax files are collected at different times and that, in some instances, individuals’ characteristics evolve with time. As a result, the marital status and the composition of a person’s family might change through the years and consequently differ between the PNRF and the T1FF. The variables to use for analysis depend on the subject of the study.

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