Where are new Canadian citizens coming from?

Asheesh Moosapeta
Published: March 16, 2023

In the next three years, Canada will welcome more than 1.45 million new immigrants across its immigration streams—in the hopes of settling and assimilating these newcomers to strengthen the economy, demography, and culture of the country.

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The arrival of immigrants is crucial to the continued health of Canada. The country hopes to not just integrate newcomers as permanent residents, but eventually as citizens who have strong ties and vested interests in Canada’s development and growth.

As a country largely comprised of immigrants, it can be pertinent to learn where the Canadians of tomorrow hail from, especially considering the newest immigration targets. The latest IRCC data yields some interesting insights into this question.

Top Source countries of 2022

In 2022, 374,554 permanent residents became Canadian citizens.

This is a huge increase from 2021, which saw little over a third of that number (137,079) transition to citizens—and a moderate increase from pre-pandemic numbers (250,000 new citizens welcomed in 2019)—a good sign that Canada’s immigration system is returning to normal functioning, and addressing domestic needs as required.

The most frequent country of birth among new citizens in 2022 was India, followed by the Philippines and then Syria, respectively.

The top ten birth countries of permanent residents (PRs) who transitioned to Canadian citizens are detailed below:

  1. India (59,503 PRs transitioned to citizens);
  2. Philippines (41,540 PRs);
  3. Syria (20,355 PRs);
  4. Pakistan (15,188);
  5. Iran (13,082);
  6. Nigeria (12,670);
  7. People’s Republic of China (10,722);
  8. United States of America (9,215);
  9. France (8,163); and
  10. Iraq (7,692).

India remains in top spot

For a second year in a row, India has been the top source of new Canadian citizens. In 2021, Canada welcomed 20,866 new citizens from India—displacing the Philippines which had prior been the biggest source country for new citizens.

Within the last four years the top ten source countries of Canadian citizens have not much changed, however there has been a re-ordering of the countries. Of note has been the growth in Syrian PRs who have transitioned to citizens in recent years (third biggest source country). This is a sharp departure from 2019, when Syria did not feature at all in the top 10.

The same can be said about Pakistan, which (similarly absent from 2019’s top 10 source countries) is today the fourth most popular country of birth among new Canadian citizens. Formerly in the same territory was the People’s Republic of China, which has fallen from fourth in 2019 to seventh in 2022.

What is the pathway from PR to Citizenship?

Once landed as a PR, those looking to become Canadian citizens must assess whether they are eligible to apply for citizenship, and when they can do so.

To be eligible for Canadian citizenship as a PR, one must:

  • Be a permanent resident of Canada;
  • File taxes if necessary;
  • Pass a Canadian citizenship test (if between the ages of 18-54);
  • Prove language skills (if between the ages of 18-54);
  • Meet Canada’s physical presence requirements;

If all other factors are met, a PR applying for citizenship must have spent at least three of the last five years (1,095 days) physically in Canada to be eligible for citizenship (unless under exceptional circumstances).

If an applicant has spent time in Canada as a temporary resident or protected person, they can count each day in Canada under this status, as half a day towards the physical presence requirement (with a cap of 365 eligible days towards the physical presence requirement).

Children under 18 who are applying must still be PRs but can waive the physical presence requirement.

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