May 26, 2023

Immigration to Canada by Country: Where are Canada’s Immigrants Coming From?

Posted by David Di Paolo - Bellissimo Law Group PC

Immigration policy in Canada has varied throughout the decades, from the exclusion of Chinese immigrants starting in the 1920s, to the detention of Japanese immigrants during World War II. In recent decades, the country has fostered a much more welcoming approach to foreign nationals.

In the 2023-2024 Departmental Plan, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) Sean Fraser detailed the Ministry’s intention to accept between 410,000 and 505,000 new permanent residents in 2023, an increase from the 2022 target of 431,000 [1]. Such lofty expectations do raise the question: where will all these immigrants come from?

As of the 2021 Census [2], immigrants made up more than one-fifth of the Canadian population – over 8 million of the 36,328,475 Canadians – and non-permanent residents added another near million. Of those more than 8 million immigrants, more than half (4.3 million) had immigrated from Asia, with India, the Philippines, and China leading the way. Nearly 2 million had immigrated from Europe (464,000 from the United Kingdom and 204,000 from Italy), more than a million from North and South America (256,000 from the United States and 145,000 from Jamaica), and over 800,000 from Africa (led by Morocco, Nigeria, and Algeria, all around 80,000). The Census also showed that the “recent immigrant population” (of over 1.3 million people) shows a trend towards more immigrants of Asian and African descents (823,000 from Asia, 206,000 from Africa), while immigration from the Americas (154,000) and Europe (134,000) has become less prevalent (immigration from Oceania lagged well behind, at just over 9,000 people).

In 2022, according to an IRCC release [3], Asia and Africa continued to be the top sources of immigrants to Canada. Ranked by population of permanent residents, the following 10 countries sent the most immigrants to Canada:

  1. India (118,095 immigrants)
  2. China (31,815 immigrants)
  3. Afghanistan (23,735 immigrants)
  4. Nigeria (22,085 immigrants)
  5. Philippines (22,070 immigrants)
  6. France (14,145 immigrants)
  7. Pakistan (11,585 immigrants)
  8. Iran (11,105 immigrants)
  9. United States of America (10,400 immigrants)
  10. Syria (8,500 immigrants)

Those ten countries add up to 62% of the 436,000 permanent residents that came to Canada in 2022. While none of these countries are particularly surprising – China and India being the two highest populated countries in the world; Afghanistan, Iran, and Syria experiencing turmoil and destabilization; France’s connection with Quebec; and the United States’ proximity to Canada – the most surprising exemption may well be Ukraine, given the ongoing invasion by the Russian forces. However, although more than 82,000 Ukrainians arrived in Canada between January 2022 and November 2022, they arrived so as temporary residents under the special immigration measures [4].