Exploring the reasons behind immigrant departures from Canada

Asheesh Moosapeta
Published: February 12, 2024

Canada is among the most sought-after countries to immigrate to, due to the country’s exceptional quality of life, robust healthcare and education system, and liberal ethic of multiculturalism.

However, Canada is not always the last stop on an immigrant’s journey. A new study released by Statistics Canada has found that more than 15% of immigrants left Canada within 20 years of landing.

Discover if You Are Eligible for Canadian Immigration

Using longitudinal data spanning from 1982 to 2017, the study found that 17.5% of immigrants left Canada within 20 years of landing but looking at the data another way, this means more than 80% of immigrants who landed in Canada over the same period chose to stay.

A smaller proportion (5.1% of immigrants) left Canada just five years after landing. However, several factors influenced whether an immigrant decided to leave Canada or not.

Note: for the purposes of this study, the words “immigrant” and “landing” are technical terms used by Statistics Canada. “Immigrant” refers to newcomers who have received permanent residence (PR) status. Meanwhile “landing” refers to an immigrants first arrival in Canada after receiving their status, or to a virtual landing (if newcomers were already in Canada upon receiving PR).

What factors determined whether an immigrant left Canada or not?

Emigration, which is the act of leaving one’s home country (in this case Canada) to live and settle somewhere else occurred most often three to seven years after immigrants landed in Canada.

Common traits among immigrants who left Canada were:

  • Those born in Taiwan, the United States, France, Hong Kong, or Lebanon were to most likely over the study period to emigrate. Conversely those born in the Philippines, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, or Jamaica were the least likely to leave;
  • Those who never had children in their tax family were more likely to emigrate than those who did; and
  • Those admitted under investor and entrepreneur categories are more likely to emigrate, while immigrants admitted under refugee or caregiver categories were less likely to do so.

The study also concluded that emigration seemed to follow a clear “gradient” based on education level: that is to say, immigrants who were more educated were far more likely to leave Canada than those who had lower levels of education.

Lastly the study noted that immigrants who held a temporary status (i.e.: worker or student) in Canada, before receiving PR were especially likely to leave after landing; however, this could further be attributed to other characteristics already discussed (such as a higher level of education).

Why might these immigrants be leaving Canada?

Though Canada is one of the most immigrant-friendly nations in the world, there may be certain reasons why these newcomers are choosing to leave the country after being granted PR.

One well-documented reason is problems integrating in the Canadian labour market.

Other reasons may include problems adjusting to Canadian culture or languages, Canada’s harsh winter weather, and personal reasons for immigrants (like the death of a loved one, or a unique employment opportunity abroad). Older immigrants may also emigrate from Canada to retire in their country of origin.

Yet another reason may be that these newcomers always planned to leave. The study takes the specific example of immigrants from Hong Kong, many of whom may have taken advantage of new transportation and communication technologies to maintain a dual presence—essentially capitalising on Hong Kong’s economic opportunity, while also benefitting from Canada’s excellent quality of life.

Still, even considering these factors, most immigrants choose to stay in Canada, and even obtain Canadian citizenship. Canada’s multiculturalism continues to provide fertile ground for immigrants from all walks of life to settle in the country. In addition, with rising immigration levels in coming years, the country has doubled down on accreditation procedures to help new immigrants integrate better into the workforce—while also increasing investment into settlement services, to ensure that newcomers are supported by the government in their quest to integrate into Canada’s economy, culture, and wider society.

Discover if You Are Eligible for Canadian Immigration

Share this article
Share your voice
Did you find this article helpful?
Thank you for your feedback.
Subscribe to our newsletter
Did you find this article helpful?
Please provide a response
Thank you for your helpful feedback
Please contact us if you would like to share additional feedback, have a question, or would like Canadian immigration assistance.
  • Do you need Canadian immigration assistance? Contact the Contact Cohen Immigration Law firm by completing our form
  • Send us your feedback or your non-legal assistance questions by emailing us at media@canadavisa.com
Related articles
Canada Dental Care Plan will soon open to more Canadian residents
Newcomer families with children may now qualify for free dental care.
IRCC now issuing invitations for Parents and Grandparents Program
A mother and son smiling towards the camera, with the backdrop of a city behind them.
The state of the Express Entry pool: April 2024
A collage of a group of people preforming various actions in a single photo
IRCC introduces new temporary policy for PR applicants from Hong Kong
A picture of Nan Lian garden in Hong Kong
Top Stories
Canada’s immigration system proposes changes to the PGWP
The top three universities in Canada according to the 2025 QS World University Rankings
Live Webinar: A Clear Path to Academic Achievement in Canada Redefined
Join our free newsletter. Get Canada's top immigration stories delivered to your inbox.
Subscribe
More in Live Webinar
Live Webinar: A Clear Path to Academic Achievement in Canada Redefined
Attain a great score on your language assessment and increase your chances of admission to a Canadian university.
Watch the Webinar: Finding your first job in Canada
While the prospect of finding employment before arriving in Canada may seem overwhelming, we're here to help and provide useful tips that may help you along this journey.
Watch the Webinar: CAEL – Test Structure and Strategies to Help You Ace the Speaking Component
Watch the Webinar: Tax Tips for Newcomers
Filing Taxes
Link copied to clipboard