#ImmigrationMatters: Canada’s immigration system

#ImmigrationMatters: Canada’s immigration system


How we select, screen and set up immigrants for success in Canada.


Canada’s immigration system: an overview

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Transcript: “Canada’s immigration system: an overview”

Video length: 1 minute, 41 seconds

Bright ambient piano music plays throughout.

The scene opens on a close-up of 2 people talking, and pans out to a diverse group of people standing outside talking together. Among them is a woman (Maria).

Narrator: Immigration is an important part of the Government of Canada’s plan to keep our economy growing.

The scene transitions to a map of Canada.

Narrator: If it weren’t for immigrants, many employers would have trouble finding enough qualified workers to fill available jobs.

“Hiring” signs pop up in several places on the map.

Narrator: This is because Canadians are living longer and having fewer children. There are more people retiring than there are young Canadians entering the job market.

A couple waves from in front of their house to their child, who is boarding a school bus. The school bus drives away with only a few children on board.

Narrator: This also means there won’t be as many workers paying taxes to support our social services, such as pensions and health care. That’s why Canada has a plan for immigration.

The bus drives by a retirement home. On the front porch, a nurse serves hot tea to a resident.

Title screen displays: “Selection”.

Narrator: Every year, the Government of Canada sets targets for each category of immigrant we allow into the country. The majority of immigrants who come to Canada are selected for their ability to contribute to our economy. Canada also has spaces in the immigration plan to reunite families and to help the world’s most vulnerable.

Text displays: “Immigration categories”.

A pie chart displays 3 categories: “Economic contribution” (approximately 60%), “Reuniting families” (approximately 25%), and “Refugees and humanitarian” (approximately 15%).

Title screen displays: “Screening”.

Narrator: Before they arrive, Canada thoroughly screens immigrants to make sure they are in good health, have not committed serious crimes, and don’t pose a security risk. The health and safety of Canadians is the Government of Canada’s top priority.

We are in front of Maria’s computer screen. As Maria scrolls through her file, text displays on the computer screen: “Medical Test”. Maria scrolls more and text displays on the computer screen: “Fingerprints and Photo (Biometrics)”. A greyscale fingerprint turns green as the text displayed underneath changes from “Biometrics Requested” to “Biometrics Received”. A check mark appears in a box beside the word “Done”. Maria scrolls again to the section “Criminal Record”. The record shows “Clear” in green.

Title screen displays: “Success”.

Narrator: When immigrants succeed, Canada succeeds. That’s why we fund services to help immigrants settle in their communities.

Maria is standing in an office with her employer, and they shake hands.

The scene transitions to a classroom. Maria is sitting at a desk and raises her hand.

Narrator: Settlement services help immigrants adapt to life in Canada and put them on the path to becoming Canadian citizens who give back, work, pay taxes and feel at home in Canada.

The scene transitions to Maria, proudly holding a small Canadian flag in one hand and a citizenship certificate in the other.

The scene transitions to a community garden. Maria plants a flower.

The scene transitions to Maria with her spouse. They pose for a photo in front of their new home.

Narrator (also displayed): Learn more about how immigrants enrich our communities at Canada.ca/immigration-matters.

The text changes to “#Immigration Matters”.

The Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada corporate signature is shown on a black background, followed by the Canada wordmark.

How are immigrants selected?

We follow a plan for immigration that helps distribute the benefits of immigration across the country. We select immigrants for their economic contribution, for their humanitarian needs and to reunite families.

Every year, we set targets for the number of immigrants we allow into the country for each immigration category. We give the public, provinces and territories, and businesses and organizations that help immigrants settle in Canada an opportunity to let us know what they think about the targets before they are finalized.

Canada plans to welcome 485,000 permanent residents in 2024 and 500,000 in 2025. Starting in 2026, the government will stabilize immigration levels at 500,000 to support economic growth while balancing with the pressures in areas like housing, healthcare and infrastructure. This works out to about 1.3% of our population.

Provinces and territories select a growing number of immigrants in the economic category, as well. Under the Canada–Quebec Accord, Quebec is responsible for selecting economic immigrants and some of the refugees that come to the province.

In recent years, Canada has changed the ratio of the various kinds of immigrants to focus more on the economic category.

Immigrants admitted to Canada between 2011 and 2016

According to the 2016 Census, among recent immigrants admitted to Canada between 2011 and 2016, approximately 6 in 10 were admitted under the economic category, nearly 3 in 10 were admitted under the family class, and approximately 1 in 10 were admitted to Canada as refugees.

Immigrants admitted to Canada in the 1980s

The situation is different for immigrants who were admitted during the 1980s and were still living in Canada in 2016. A smaller proportion were economic immigrants: 4 in 10 immigrants were admitted under this category, while over 3 in 10 immigrants were sponsored by family, and approximately 2 in 10 immigrants were refugees.

How are immigrants screened?

To protect the health, safety and security of Canadians, all potential immigrants are carefully screened before they can come to Canada.

Anyone applying to live permanently in Canada must provide

  • a police certificate or criminal record check
  • their photo and fingerprints (biometrics)

Screening makes sure anyone who immigrates to Canada

  • hasn’t committed a serious crime
  • doesn’t pose a risk to Canada’s security
  • hasn’t violated human or international rights
  • is in good health (determined by a medical exam)
  • has a valid passport or travel document

How are immigrants set up for success?

Success in Canada starts with the selection process.

Through our economic immigration category, we choose skilled immigrants who are able to settle in Canada and contribute to our economy.

Our Express Entry system helps us manage how skilled immigrants come to Canada. Our sophisticated points system predicts how immigrants will do in Canada.

All the following details are considered in the points system:

  • language skills
  • education
  • work experience
  • a valid job offer
  • a nomination from a province or territory

Only candidates with the highest scores are sent invitations to apply to immigrate.

Success is sustained through settlement services.

We want newcomers to succeed and add value to our culture and society. That’s why we fund services to help immigrants settle in their communities.

There are more than 500 settlement service organizations across Canada. They help all newcomers

  • learn about life in Canada and their community
  • get language training
  • find work
  • make connections with established immigrants and Canadians

Settlement services help newcomers adapt to life in Canada and put them on the path to eventually becoming Canadian citizens. Under the Canada-Québec Accord, Quebec is responsible for providing settlement services to its immigrants.

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