Dictionary, Census of Population, 2021
Applicant type

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


Applicant type refers to whether an immigrant was identified as the principal applicant, the spouse or the dependant on their application for permanent residence.

In the 2021 Census of Population, data on applicant type are available for immigrants who were admitted to Canada between January 1, 1980, and May 11, 2021.

Statistical unit(s)


Reported in

2021 and 2016 (25% sample).

Reported for

Persons in private households who are, or who have ever been, landed immigrants or permanent residents since 1980.

Question number(s)

Data on applicant type were obtained from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada's administrative records.


The standard classification for applicant type is "Principal applicant" and "Secondary applicant." The secondary applicant category includes "Spouse of a principal applicant" and "Dependant of a principal applicant."


Applicant type is most often used in combination with admission category, particularly with the economic immigrant categories, in which principal applicants are selected based on their ability to contribute to the Canadian economy.

For additional information regarding applicant type please refer to the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada website.

For more information on immigration variables, including information on 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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