Dictionary, Census of Population, 2021
Immigrant status

Release date: November 17, 2021Updated on: October 26, 2022


Immigrant status refers to whether the person is a non‑immigrant, an immigrant or a non‑permanent resident.

Statistical unit(s)


Reported in

2021 and 2016 (25% sample); 2011Footnote 1 (30% sample); 2006, 2001, 1996 and 1991 (20% sample).

Reported for

Population in private households

Question number(s)

Derived variable: Question 21a) and immigrant status obtained from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada's (IRCC) administrative records.


The standard classification for immigrant status is "non‑immigrant," "immigrant" and "non‑permanent resident."


The immigrant status variable is derived from the responses to the citizenship question (question 21a) and immigrant status obtained from IRCC's administrative records. Before 2021, immigrant status was asked on the census questionnaire.

Within the immigrant status variable, the three categories are defined as follows:

"Non‑immigrant" includes persons who are Canadian citizens by birth.

"Immigrant" includes persons who are, or who have ever been, landed immigrants or permanent residents. Such persons have been granted the right to live in Canada permanently by immigration authorities. Immigrants who have obtained Canadian citizenship by naturalization are included in this category.

In the 2021 Census of Population, "immigrant" includes immigrants who were admitted to Canada on or prior to May 11, 2021.

"Non‑permanent resident" includes persons from another country with a usual place of residence in Canada and who have a work or study permit or who have claimed refugee status (asylum claimants).

Family members living with work or study permit holders are also included, unless these family members are already Canadian citizens, landed immigrants or permanent residents.

To better understand the relationship between the concepts of immigration, place of birth and generation status, please refer to Figure 2.5.

To better understand the relationship between the concepts of immigration and citizenship, please refer to Figure 2.6.

For more information on the citizenship question in the 2021 Census of Population, refer to the definition of citizenship.

For more information on immigration variables, including information on their classifications, the questions from which they are derived, data quality and their comparability with other sources of data, please refer to the Place of Birth, Generation Status, Citizenship and Immigration Reference Guide, Census of Population, 2021.


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