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Characteristics of Canada's newest immigrants

Asia and Europe are the leading sources of new immigrants

Between October 2000 and September 2001 an estimated 164,200 immigrants aged 15 years and older landed in Canada from abroad as permanent residents.

Consistent with trends shown by immigration data from the 2001 Census, released January 2003, the majority of these newcomers (68%) were born in Asia, including the Middle East. Another 15% were from Europe, 9% from Africa and 6% from Central and South America and the Caribbean.

The People’s Republic of China was the leading country of birth, contributing 32,300 new immigrants to Canada. This was followed by India (25,800), the Philippines (11,300) and Pakistan (8,400).

Of these 164,200 immigrants, 66% were in the prime working-age group of 25 to 44 years. This was almost double the 38% of the Canadian-born population aged 15 years and older who were in the same age group at the time of the 2001 Census.

Economic immigrants comprised two-thirds of new immigrants

In general, immigrants entered Canada under three main classes: economic-class immigrants, family-class immigrants and refugees.

Of the immigrants included in the LSIC, economic-class immigrants made up the largest proportion (67%). The economic class comprised 56% principal applicants and 44% spouses and dependents (see survey methodology).

Principal applicants in the economic class were more likely to be men. Of the 61,600 immigrants in this category, 77% were men. Immigrant women who were admitted under the economic class were more likely to be admitted as a spouse or a dependent. Women made up 75% of the 47,900 individuals in the category of economic-class spouse or dependent.

Family-class immigrants represented about 27% of the target population included in the LSIC who landed in Canada from abroad during this period. Of these 44,100 immigrants, 6 of every 10 were women.

The smallest proportion of new arrivals, about 6%, were admitted under the refugee class. Of these 9,800 immigrants admitted on humanitarian grounds, half were men and half women.

High proportion of newcomers have university education

Overall, new immigrants who arrived in Canada during the year-long period were highly educated. Over half (55%) reported having a university education. The proportion was even higher among newcomers who were aged between 25 and 44 years (69%), more than three times the 22% of the Canadian-born population in the same age group in 2001.

Economic-class principal applicants were selected for admittance to Canada on the basis of their labour market qualifications. Therefore, the majority (84%) of these principal applicants had a university degree, while 87% were in the prime working-age group of 25 to 44 years.

Most immigrants reported knowledge of at least one official language

A majority (82%) of new immigrants reported that they were able to converse well in at least one of Canada’s two official languages when they arrived. Most of those individuals who had skills in an official language were in the prime working-age group of 25 to 44 years (88%) and were university educated (92%).

Still, 18% of the 164,200 immigrants were unable to converse in either English or French when they settled in Canada. This was partly because of the high proportion of immigrants from non-English- and non-French-speaking countries.

Immigrants who could not speak either official language on arrival tended to be older. Four in 10 immigrants aged 45 and 64 years could not speak English or French, nor could 6 in 10 seniors aged 65 years and older.

As well, women were more likely than men to have little knowledge of the official languages. About 23% of women couldn’t converse in English or French, compared with 13% of men.

Vast majority of newcomers planned to become Canadian citizens

The vast majority of new immigrants reported that they had only one country in mind when they chose to leave their homeland: Canada. Virtually all (98%) of those who came during the year-long period did not apply to immigrate to any other country.

Many immigrated for economic reasons; some came to reunite with their family. Others did not come by choice, but had to leave their homeland as refugees. The one thing that most immigrants had in common was the fact that they planned to make Canada their home. The vast majority (91%) expressed their intent to settle here permanently and become Canadian citizens.

Some six months after arriving in Canada, immigrants were making progress in building a new life in Canada. In fact, 73% of immigrants were satisfied with their new life in Canada. Only 9% were not satisfied with their experience and the remaining 18% reported being neither satisfied nor dissatisfied with their new lives.

Most immigrants (85%) had made new friends since coming to Canada, especially with people from the same cultural background as themselves. In fact, 63% reported that all or most of their new friends were from the same ethnic group. As well, 47% of the immigrants reported that they wanted to bring their relatives to Canada by sponsoring their immigration.

Canada’s immigration policy

Canada’s immigration policy has been guided by three broad objectives: to reunite families, to fulfil the country’s international obligations and humanitarian tradition with respect to refugees; and to foster a strong viable economy in all regions of Canada.

These objectives are reflected through the three main classes of immigrants under which people are admitted to Canada each year as permanent residents: family-class immigrants, economic-class immigrants and refugees.

Family-class immigrants include close relatives (spouses, dependent children, parents and grandparents) sponsored by a permanent resident or citizen of Canada who is at least 18 years of age. The sponsored immigrant can be accompanied by his or her spouse and dependent children. The sponsor must commit to provide for the maintenance of the sponsored immigrants.

People who are admitted under the economic class include principal applicants and accompanying spouses and dependants of skilled workers, business immigrants and provincial/territorial nominees. Since 1967, skilled worker principal applicants are selected for suitability for the Canadian labour force based on an assessment of their skills.

The assessment is based on a system that assigns points for age, education, work experience, intended occupation, knowledge of Canadian languages and adaptability. Additional points may be given if the principal applicant has pre-arranged employment in Canada. Business principal applicants are assessed for relevant experience as a business owner or manager.

In the economic class, spouses and dependent children are admitted along with the principal applicants, without being individually skills-tested.

Refugees can be selected from abroad (sponsored by the government or by private groups) or admitted after a determination of their refugee status after arriving in Canada as a refugee claimant. Refugees selected from abroad can be individuals recognised as Convention refugees on the basis of the 1951 Geneva Convention or individuals being re-settled for humanitarian reasons.

A refugee claimant receives Canada’s protection only when he or she is found to be a Convention refugee. The Longitudinal Survey of Immigrants to Canada does not include any refugee claimants admitted from within Canada in its population of interest.

Settlement services are offered to help newly arrived permanent residents—particularly refugees—settle, adapt and integrate into Canadian society. Under the Canadian Constitution, the federal and provincial governments share responsibility for immigration.

Several provinces and territories have formal agreements with the federal government regarding immigration. The Canada–Quebec Accord is the most comprehensive of these agreements to date.

Source: Citizenship and Immigration Canada.

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Date Modified: 2003-09-04 Important Notices